Can Alvarez Adjust And Handle A Really Good Boxer And Technician, in Lara?

BY Frank Lotierzo ON July 07, 2014


When Saul "Canelo" Alvarez 43-1-1 (31) takes on Erislandy Lara 19-1 (12) this coming weekend, it'll mark the second time in his career where he'll be confronting an upper-tier world class boxer and technician. The last time Alvarez was in with an elite boxer, Floyd Mayweather, almost a year ago, things didn't go so good for him. In fact you could say with impunity that he was clearly in over his head and didn't win a minute of the fight, let alone a round of the 12 that he and Floyd fought.

The 23 year old supposed phenom looked lost and out of it with no hope of finding an answer very early into the bout. Mayweather's accurate and sharp punching totally stymied Alvarez and really kept him from getting off the way he needed to in order to have a chance to keep the fight close, forget about winning it. And Mayweather did that and was able to breeze through the fight without ever really putting much physical hurt on Alvarez, at least that we could see. In the main it was the clean punches he was nailed with every time he attempted to get near Mayweather that had Alvarez befuddled and in a trance for the duration of the fight.

After the bout Alvarez had the gall to say that he wasn't ready for Mayweather's tactics and didn't think that he would move and run so much. Which is a joke to anyone who saw the fight because Mayweather didn't run at all. What Floyd did was use a half side-step and basically out-boxed Alvarez from the waist up. The reality was there was no need for Floyd to run or move because Canelo wasn't doing anything that warranted Mayweather to move. Sure, it can be said that Mayweather is the best and most skilled boxer/technician in boxing today. But is he so great that Alvarez wasn't capable of winning a round or skilled enough to make Floyd a little uncomfortable at some point? And if he did, I certainly never picked up on it throughout the 12 lopsided rounds the fight drug on.

What does it say about Alvarez that Miguel Cotto, Robert Guerrero and Marcos Maidana, who represent three of Mayweather's last four opponents excluding Alvarez, competed with Floyd much better than Canelo was able to? Cotto and Maidana aren't as strong nor do they hit as hard or as accurately as does Alvarez. Yet they really forced Mayweather to work and fight in the midst of giving him two of the three toughest fights of his stellar career. And Robert Guerrero, who made his mark fighting between 126-130, who fought Mayweather at 147, actually won three rounds on all of the judges' scorecards. Does anyone really need me to highlight the fact that Alvarez is bigger, stronger, punches harder and more accurately than Guerrero? Aside from mental fortitude and toughness, Alvarez excels at everything a boxer must do to win a fight better than Guerrero. And as redundant as it is, Alvarez was one of Mayweather's easiest fights.

Perhaps Alvarez is really troubled by a good fundamental boxer. No, Lara isn't on Mayweather's level, but he's a little taller and longer and he is a southpaw. No, he doesn't have nearly the professional experience of Mayweather, but he uses his legs more and his deep amateur experience counts for quite a bit this time. And if he can punch and move without getting physically overwhelmed, he very well may give Alvarez some real trouble. Remember, we didn't learn anything from Alvarez's last fight against Alfredo Angulo, who he stopped in the 10th round. Angulo was tailor-made for Alvarez. He did everything just good enough to stay around for awhile so Alvarez could shine and sharpen up as the fight progressed. Alvarez didn't need any imagination and he didn't have to adjust for Angulo, who just came straight at him, something Lara will not do.

The 31 year old Lara is physically mature and hard having benefited from being a card-carrying member of the Cuban amateur boxing program. Granted, Lara isn't a life-taker when it comes to punching power, but nowhere in the book does it say one has to be in order to blunt and disrupt Alvarez from really trying to bring it. If Lara can land cleanly on Alvarez before he can get off with his patent two and three punch combinations to the head and body, he may be able to prevent the stronger Alvarez from walking him down and eventually working him over. Based on what we've seen from Lara against Austin Trout, Alfredo Angulo and Paul Williams, it's doubtful that Alvarez is just going to be able to cut loose at will and make Erislandy do what he doesn't want to on call.

Because of Lara's style, this is a very interesting fight for Alvarez. Everyone knows that he's the stronger fighter and harder puncher, but he sure didn't react well to getting nailed repeatedly by Mayweather, who only punches hard enough to keep his opponents off of him. If you take into account the physical advantages that Alvarez had over Mayweather last September, it's hard to digest why he was so out of the fight. Sure, I think he was bothered and weakened by the 152 pound catch-weight limit, but he was so non-competitive that he could've come in at 160 and I don't think it would've changed the outcome. One thought I have is, the size/strength advantage in favor of Alvarez might matter more this time than it did in the Mayweather fight. I think Canelo semi-panicked when he saw that, even without running, Mayweather was way too good for him. I don't think he'll freak out as much if things don't immediately go his way against Lara. Alvarez was unable to pressure Mayweather like he needed to, and Floyd had everything to do with that. If Lara can box him from the outside and disrupt his aggression, he should have a good night. However, if Alvarez should've picked up anything from losing to Mayweather, it is how he must improve at forcing the fight effectively. If he's not a deer in the headlights Saturday night after getting hit with some flush shots, he has the physicality and skill to overwhelm Lara.

The big money and establishment will no doubt be backing Alvarez this weekend when he fights Lara. As Muhammad Ali often said, Canelo has the complexion and the connection to take part in some of the future big fights that will happen in professional boxing in the near future. If he wins, I believe he'll abandon the junior middleweight division and will most likely be WBC middleweight title holder Miguel Cotto's next opponent. But first we have to find out if he has improved since losing to Mayweather and also whether or not he can adjust and impose his physicality and skill on a versatile and tough skilled boxer the likes of Erislandy Lara. Based on the last outstanding boxer he faced, it's not a given.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at


Comment on this article

brownsugar says:

Perfectly stated Frank... You leave little to the imagination...and little to elaborate upon.
Lara has legs... Lots of legs and Canelo is no Frank Kirkland slash Aaron Pryor-esque hunt-em-down-all- the-way-to-China-Town volume puncher.

Canelo has good athleticism, great combination punching ability. But he needs someone who will compliment his style in the same way Provodnikov shouldn't fight boxers with mobility like Chris Algieri. But looks great against a fighter who doesnt know to use his legs for defense

Canelo does possess a solid punch but how often will he land?

Lara has to literally spot Canelo one or two his abilities to enable him to win if the judging is fair.
Which is a big if when we are talking about a fighter who possesses as much clout as the president of Mexico.

Radam G says:

Nice writing with an intriguing ploy for Canelo. He no doubt has the right complexion to get the connection. But he's going to need some protection. I don't think that he can handle Lara's side-to-side, in-and-out misdirections.

Canelo will land the heavier punches. And if he is able to land enough, he will get a close decision victory -- likely a majority or split. Holla!

Skibbz says:

I have to disagree, if crude Angulo could do it, then Canelo will have no problems. If he works a solid plan then he will TKO the Cuban. Move with Lara to the left or to the right, if he wants to escape the ropes he will have to work his legs hard. Whilst you have him there work him to his body and make those elbows drop. He hates getting it to the body and he's remarkably easy to his with the left hook or uppercut to the body, both punches Canelo has well practised in his arsenal.

Once those hands drop, he can go in over the top with left hooks (like Angulo did) or use his monster back hand to make it lights out for Lara.

Canelo should expect to lose 2 or 3 of the early rounds, but so long as he man handles the Cuban, roughs him up and targets the body it will be an early nights work.

thegreyman says:

I agree with the article.

Canelo's footwork doesn't cut it at elite level. He was being walked down and out-positioned by Austin Trout. If he can't position himself, and control the distance properly when he's in there with Lara, I see him really struggling. And Lara's footwork is far better than Alvarez or Trout's- he was walking the latter down for 12 rounds.

Where Lara wants the fight to take place is where it will take place, and that does not bode well for Alvarez. You can't bully what you can't catch.

Canelo's defence also leaves much to be desired, though Lara's could be better too. Lara found himself being hit way too much by the dog, and Alvarez too much by Trout, and both are stylistically similar to their next respective opponents.

oubobcat says:

There has been a lot written about saying Lara'a style will cause Canelo problems. But what about Canelo's style for Lara? That's not being talked about and I think Canelo's style will cause Lara fits.

Lara had his most success against two fighters who stylistically suited him well in Paul Williams and Austin Trout. Both fighters did not bring the fight to Lara and allowed Lara to dictate tempo and set the pace of the fight. Lara was able to fight when he wanted and skilled enough to pick apart both men (Williams also made a strategic error of constantly moving toward Lara's left hand).

However, Lara has struggled when fighters have brought the fight to him and applied just some pressure. When the fight is brought to him, Lara backs up and covers up on the inside. When he backs up, is open for a straight right hand. When he covers up on the inside, holds his right hand very high exposing his rib cage to left hooks to the body. He also does not throw until he knows his opponent has definitively stopped and is out of range.

Canelo is going to press forward and be willing to lead making Lara uncomfortable. Canelo will find a home for the straight right and left hooks to the body. Canelo's left hook to the body is arguably his best punch and a punch that will be there for the taking against Lara.

Remember too, Canelo has excellent hand speed. Carlos Molina and Alfredo Angulo found Lara an easy target to hit and their hand speed is nowhere near Canelo's. Canelo will land more combinations and do more damage than they were able to against Lara.

I see Canelo breaking down Lara and eventually scoring a mid round knockout. It may even come from a left hook to the body.

thegreyman says:

The blueprint for beating Canelo is there. Mayweather showcased the perfect recipe; a step by step, 12 stage plan for taking apart Canelo.

We'll have to wait till Saturday to see if Lara has the skills to emulate that style of performance, and if he does, it will be a proven fact that Canelo can't deal with good boxers.

Skibbz says:

Come on Greyman let's not play blind to the facts. We can't assume people don't understand the situation and then throw claims around. Don't muddy the waters for those who have trouble to see!

Lara is going to drop, blow after blow Canelo isn't going to stop going to the bottom then straight to the top! Your boy Lara is going to flop! Holla!

ultimoshogun says:

I agree with Skibbs' and oubobcat's assessments. Canelo will take a page from Angulo's gameplan and work the body to get Lara to drop his hands...after that, Lara will probably visit the canvas a couple times like he did vs Angulo.

brownsugar says:

Canelo has shown us that he's crafty and resourceful. He stopped following Trout when the open scoring indicated he was comfortably in the lead and began ambushing a desperate Trout who fell into hard counters while hastily trying to close the gap.

We also can't diminish Canelo's explosive punching power and creative combinations which target the head and body in unique sequences that can be hard to anticipate.

Although Canelo is the crown jewel of the Golden Boy stable, ...the obvious hier apparent to a dying breed of superstars who became household names during an era that has only produced two or three true Kings since Del La Hoya dominated the airwaves during his prolific prime.

Canelo is much more than just another pretty face. He's a carefully guided boxer with a vision of who he is, ...what he wants to become, and roadmap showing him how to get there.

He didn't get to where he is on the strength of being the son of a living Icon like Chavez Jr.

He got there because of his unique physical appearance,...

AND the fact that he can really fight.

Floyd Mayweather scouted him out 4 years ago and tried to pick him off when he was just a 19 year old relative unknown outside of Mexico. Wisely Canelo's brain trust refused the offer.

Canelo has a good chin, and as long as his opponents name isn't Floyd Mayweather junior he can usually out-think his opponents.

I believe Canelo truly has a punchers chance to stop Lara if he can deliver enough concussive ordinance against Lara's vulnerable chin.

But I also believe Canelo is (if you take away the crowd and possible bias officiating) at a distinct disadvantage.

He's why,

Lara defends better against a caculated boxer than he does the random, berserker, attacks of a kazikame brawler who purposely trades his defense in exchange for swinging Hells-Bells for Glory in the hopes something will land.

Against boxers who actually use the sweet science, Lara is more than adequately equipped.
The Cuban school is adept at exploiting good boxing technique.

And I guarantee you that with Canelo operating with only a 67.5 reach (against a 4.5" reach and a 1.5" height advantage) he will get picked apart by with surgically precise counters.

Lara doesn't even have to run. Lara can simply hover on the outside within a few inches of striking distance and just slide out of range with one well placed step.

He doesn't event have to take punches on the arms.. Lara's movement t is that good. He floats effortlessly and his offence is integrated with his mobility.

Canelo wants to stand in front of his opponent and Gamble on his combination punching.... A tactic Lara can easily take away.

While nothing is quite that simple ... I believe Lara is just good enough to edge Canelo if he doesn't get hit .....while being patially blinded from looking at a flash bulb.

In boxing a little luck goes a long way. Canelo will need generous quantities of it to outbox Lara.
Its a great debate.

But all of our words will be have been rendered obsolete in a few days

Or maybe like RG says..."boxing is the theatre of the unexpected " and something completely out of the blue may change the course of the fight.

Listening to all of the excellent arguments I actually want to buy the fight now.
Hopefully I can resist.....May the best man win.

the Roast says:

My opinion of this fight is Canelo will be outboxed by Lara but the judges will give the Mexican moneymaker the fight by close UD. Canelo has all the right people on his side. Lara will need to outbox Canelo by wide margin and probably knock him down a few times to get a fair shake.

brownsugar says:

One thing I'll say about Canelo is that he's willing to challenge himself.. Even if he loses... He can always come back like Cotto and be remembered as the guy who took on all comers. A loss doesn't hurt Canelo if he can stay at the 154 limit and improve.

Radam G says:

One thing I'll say about Canelo is that he's willing to challenge himself.. Even if he loses... He can always come back like Cotto and be remembered as the guy who took on all comers. A loss doesn't hurt Canelo if he can stay at the 154 limit and improve.

He cannot and will not stay at 154lbs at the rate that he eats bad foods and drinks beer and sugary drinks. Five days after the fight, at below 5-foot-7, Canelo will be 90kgs. At his age, it makes no sense to put on weight like that. He is a modern-day Donald Curry with that instant, rapid weight gain from stuffing his face with waste. Holla!

oubobcat says:

He cannot and will not stay at 154lbs at the rate that he eats bad foods and drinks beer and sugary drinks. Five days after the fight, at below 5-foot-7, Canelo will be 90kgs. At his age, it makes no sense to put on weight like that. He is a modern-day Donald Curry with that instant, rapid weight gain from stuffing his face with waste. Holla!

Win or lose, I think this is the last time Canelo sniffs the 154 pound vicinity.

By the way, a lot of people are saying this is a high risk fight for Canelo and that his career is hurt bad with a loss. I don't see that. If he loses, he has the built in excuse of the weight. He can state he was drained trying to make weight and wants to start fresh at 160. He then takes a tune up fight at his new weight class and still ends up getting the big money fight with Cotto this May.

Unless Canelo gets KO'd, which I see as highly unlikely, I don't see much risk at all in him taking this fight. If he wins, he beats someone who many people think is one of the most dangerous fighters in the sport. And as I have previously stated, I think its a good move as Lara does not handle the style of Canelo well in my opinion. If he loses, Canelo has built in excuses and can move on.

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