Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, the red-headed Mexican sensation, was provoked into the fight against Erislandy Lara, when the uber-talented Cuban southpaw gatecrashed the post-fight press conference after Canelo’s vicious beatdown of Alfredo Angulo in March.
The 31-year-old Lara had campaigned for the Alvarez gig for quite some time and he made himself known on that night.
As the young superstar was giving his thoughts on his performance against Angulo, Lara walked onto the platform and effectively called him out. Alvarez, with all of his boyish charm and charisma, laughed off the situation. But Lara had gotten under his skin and he desperately wanted to put him in his place.
It didn’t take long for Canelo to take Lara up on his offer and the pair started their gruelling training camps and tiresome press tours.
By the time of the fight, after undergoing numerous conference calls, interviews and public meetings, both men had had enough of the talking and they were keen to get down to business.
Bright start for Lara
Lara, the 2005 World Amateur Championships welterweight gold medal winner, started the fight in imperious form. His stinging jab, pinpoint left hand and balletic footwork kept the former WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine champion off balance in the early exchanges.
The 23-year-old Alvarez (now 44-1-1, 31KO's) gradually made his way into range by slipping punches and he began to hammer Lara’s body with bone-crunching hooks. The more body blows he landed, the slower Lara’s feet became. And at the halfway point, Canelo was well and truly in the contest.
A crisp left uppercut in the seventh round opened a cut over the right eye of Lara, who appeared distracted and frustrated by the damage. Canelo ploughed on regardless and continued throwing his nasty body assaults.
As the rounds ticked by, Alvarez grew in confidence and seemingly took charge of the fight from that point until the end.
Lara (now 19-2-2, 12KO's) had gone from controlling the early part of the bout with sharp punching and fleet footwork, to running around the ring doing very little with his hands. Meanwhile, the Guadalajara native never stopped pressing the action.
With the exception of an occasional flurry from Lara in the latter stages, Golden Boy Promotions' biggest star controlled the tempo, remained on the front foot and forced the issue throughout.
Levi Martinez and Dave Moretti turned in respective scorecards of 117-111 and 115-113 for Alvarez, whilst Jerry Roth gave Lara the nod with a score of 115-113.
For all of Lara’s marvellous skills and speed, he simply doesn’t do enough. He has been guilty of coasting in the past and he paid the price last night.
"I came to fight, I didn't come to run here. You don't win by running. You win by hitting," Alvarez said through a translator. "He definitely has a great jab but you don't win a fight like that by running."
"I want to leave people with a good taste in their mouth. This wasn't the fight I expected; I wanted to go toe to toe. He didn't come to fight. He came to run. He's a great boxer - I respect him - but he has to learn how to throw more punches."
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