Before making a prediction I sometimes watch old tapes of past fights just to get an idea of what each fighter is bringing to the table. I especially do this in the big fights. When a fight is deemed by fans as 50/50 it adds even more intrigue. Not just in the predictions but in the match-up as well. A fight is just bigger and better when no one has any idea as to how it is going to play out.
That case couldn’t be more accurate when Saul Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara take the stage Saturday night on Showtime PPV. Two of Canelo’s last four fights have been pre-determined to be a 50/50 fight. Last April when he squared off against Austin Trout many thought Canelo bit off more than he could chew. He proved the critics wrong. Saturday night he will be looking to do the same thing. But make no mistake about it, though Lara carries a similar style to Austin Trout, he is better than him.
Do you remember in High School when you had to take a multiple choice test? A question came along where you had a gut feeling it was the answer and circled it, then you thought about it, and went back and switched it. Later on you would get the test back and your first answer ended up being right. Then your teacher would say to you, “Always stay with the first choice.” When Cotto first signed to square off against Martinez I predicted that Cotto would win by TKO on our Twitter page. Two days before the fight, I switched my prediction to Martinez by TKO. It was a mistake that I often made in high school as well, and one that I will not make again when picking the winner of a boxing match. I had an idea of who I would pick to win the Canelo-Lara fight before it was signed. I am sticking to my guns this time.
Erislandy Lara is the most dangerous fighter in the junior middleweight division. He has fast hands, good power, and he moves very good around the ring. To make it even more troubling, he’s a southpaw. Alongside his foe for this weekend, Lara and Canelo have pretty much wiped out the top names in the division. (Excluding Mayweather if we count him as a junior middleweight). Many consider them to be the best two junior middleweight’s in the world, so this fight is for that title if none other.
Though Lara’s style is troublesome he had a tough time against Angulo who put the pressure on him right from the bell. Lara easily fell into the ropes against Angulo even when he was just coming forward without throwing any punches. When Lara does get onto the ropes he tends to cover up, and allows himself to get it with three-four punch combos. This will not be good when Canelo decides to put the pressure on him. Canelo is a lot fast than Angulo and he hits pretty hard too. If he can get Lara to back onto those ropes the way he did in the Angulo fight then he will be on his way to knocking Lara out. Both knockdowns in the fight against Angulo were by punches he didn’t see, and both by the left hook while he was either on the inside or moving away from being on the inside. Canelo’s left hook is dangerous and Lara is going to have to stay away from it on the inside.
For Canelo to have success he is going to have to push the fight to Lara the way Angulo did. He needs to get on the inside and bang the body. Lara doesn’t fight well on the inside so it’s important that he brings the fight there. Where Canelo has a big disadvantage in this fight is in the middle of the ring, trying to box. Lara is the southpaw and he’s faster. However Canelo’s speed is underrated and his straight right hand is very good. He showed that against Trout. I’m very interested to see if Canelo can actually be the better boxer on the outside as well. It’d be dangerous to try to keep the fight there though, as his clear advantage is to put the pressure on Lara and to push him to the ropes. Lara doesn’t throw a lot of punches either so Canelo is going to be able to get away with just out punching him some rounds too. Canelo’s defense has improved so he won’t be easy to hit even for the crafty southpaw. I really don’t like the way Lara moves out of the way of danger, often dropping that right hand. I also don’t like that Canelo has chosen to box more in his last three fights. I don’t think that style favors him in this fight.
This isn’t an easy fight to predict. I tend to think Lara is the better boxer but some part of me thinks he is a little overrated in that aspect. He doesn’t throw tons of punches and I think he is going to need to in order to beat Canelo even if it turns into a boxing match. Lara spends a lot of time trying to fire counter punches but he’s very easy to push back into the ropes, in fact, he’s too easy to push back into the ropes. The judges are going to favor Canelo in close rounds as well. My turn off about Canelo is that if he decides to box with Lara and not pressure him the way he should then he could find himself losing each round by a few big punches.
My initial pick was that Canelo would defeat Lara with a TKO. I’m going to stick with that this time. I feel that Canelo will attack the body even from the outside. I think he is going to walk Lara down and easily get him onto the ropes where he will land that left hook and hurt him a few times in the fight. Lara is not hard to hit when you get close enough to him. Canelo’s speed will be noticeable and could trouble Lara even on the outside but it will be his pressure behind the jab that gets Lara uncomfortable for the entire fight. Lara’s lack of punch output is going to hurt him in this fight also. Eventually I think a left hook catches Lara and he doesn’t survive. The right pick here is probably Canelo to win a unanimous decision. (And actually win it). I’m going to go bolder. Canelo wins, but by a left hook that Lara can’t recover from.
Canelo defeats Lara by 11th round TKO
Mares defeats Oquendo by Unanimous Decision
Vargas defeats Juanma by 7th round KO
Perez defeats Herrera by Split Decision