By Jackie Kallen
Erislandy Lara is a great fighter. With a record of 19-1-1, he is a solid, viable opponent for anyone in the top echelons of the middleweight division. On Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Vegas, he will face 43-1-1 Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who is no doubt the toughest guy he’s fought so far.
Lara landed the fight with his mouth. He demanded it. He went to press conferences and screamed at Canelo to fight him. He got the fans and media worked up. Canelo, a proud man, who seemingly fears no opponent–took the bait and agreed.
As a fighter manager, I probably would not have chosen Lara were Canelo my fighter. He is a threat to any man and appears to be especially psyched up for this He knows what a win over Alvarez would mean. The only man to thus far put a blemish on Canelo’s record was Floyd Mayweather, jr. That is nothing to be ashamed of. So far, no one on the planet has been able to put an L on “Money’s” record.
After the loss to Mayweather jr. last year, Alvarez came back earlier this year and beat a game Alfredo Angulo. That win put Canelo back in the running for another big fight. An outspoken Cuban, Lara stormed the post-fight press conference demanding this fight. And thus the match was born.
Lara is the kind of fighter who can be a spoiler. He’s a rugged southpaw who comes to fight. His only loss was a very close MD against Paul Williams in 2011. From that fight on he disposed of Ronald Hearns, Freddy Hernandez, Vanes Martirosyan, Alfredo Angulo and Austin Trout. He is clearly on a roll. He views Alvarez as a mere bump in the road. He claims to have no reservations or hesitation about the fight.
Alvarez has made it clear that he is not a fan of Lara’s brash personality and smack talk. It is not his style and he takes a far more gentlemanly approach to the sport. At 23 years old, he is nearly eight years younger than Lara, but chooses to show maturity and restraint.
In some cases, the louder, more abrasive man uses his words as a pre-fight weapon. He hopes to suitably rile up his opponent and throw him off his game. Occasionally it works. But in many cases, it backfires, having the reverse effect.
All talking aside, Lara is going to be a handful for Canelo. He is a terrific counter-puncher who has studied Alvarez extensively and knows what to expect. He and his trainer Ronnie Shields believe they have an answer for anything that Canelo brings into the ring.
Canelo, on the other hand, is training hard and trying to block out Lara’s cockiness. To most fighters, they credit the smack talk to their opponent being afraid or nervous. I don’t think that’s the case here, but I have a feeling it will throw Canelo into high gear and bring out the competitive beast in him.
May the best–not necessarily the loudest–man win.
Many boxing fans are anticipating the fight for the WBO Bantamweight title between undefeated Tomoki Kameda and the more experienced 46-2 Pungluang Sor Singyu. The Japan native Kameda currently holds the belt and his opponent from Thailand hopes to dethrone him and claim the title. Having been KOed twice before, Singyu has his work cut out for him on Saturday night.
The undercard on this show is pretty good, also. Featherweight Abner Mares (26-1-1) fights for the first time this year when he faces rugged Jonathan Oquendo (24-3). Undefeated Super Featherweight Francisco Vargas puts his 19-0-1 record on the line against 34-3 Juan Manuel Lopez.
All in all, this looks like an exciting night of boxing on Showtime.