(Photo © German Villasenor)
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Erislandy Lara had something to prove last Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada.
They had been arguing for months over who was the better fighter.
So who won?
Alvarez proved that he comes to fight, but after 45 bouts, still doesn’t know how to cut off the ring. Lara can box beautifully at times, but also has a tendency to be more roadrunner than Tasmanian devil.
Not that you could blame him for some of his extracurricular movement. Alvarez landed some hellacious body shots that Lara’s relatives in Cuba probably felt. When Lara stood his ground, he did well. He was able to connect sharply on the chin of the Mexican Icon, who, incidentally, absorbed the blows without blinking.
The decision, in favor of Alvarez, had twitter a-flutter. One person compared Lara’s darting style to that of Muhammad Ali’s. Ali used lateral movement, punctuated by a stinging jab. Lara can jab too, but also ran from Alvarez without throwing any punches.
Ali didn’t run. He moved and punched. Big difference.
The scoring of the fight provedinteresting. Judge Dave Moretti rated the bout 115-113 for Alvarez; Jerry Roth scored it 115-113 for Lara; and Levi Martinez had it 117-111 for Alvarez.
117-111 works out to nine rounds to three. That’s hard to fathom.
Most of the rounds were close and could have gone either way. Lara did land 10 more punches than Alvarez, but the redhead made up for that slight discrepancy by connecting on 36 more power shots.
For the record, this writer scored the match 114-114, a draw.
So what now? Lara wants a rematch, but Alvarez isn’t interested.
“You all saw the fight,” said Alvarez after the fight. “We would bring pressure but we didn’t expect a marathon. I wanted to give a better fight. There is saying, ‘You need a partner to make love,and in boxing you need a good partner for a better fight.”
Lara disagreed, making his case for a sequel.
“I did my fight and I won this fight,” Lara said. “I made him look bad in front of his crowd. I still have no respect for him and I want a rematch.”
The fleet footed Lara did make Alvarez miss with most of his home run shots, but, borrowing from baseball again, Alvarez is the cleanup man. Fans like his punching power. Lara hits doubles.
Don’t look for a rematch anytime soon.
Juan Manuel Lopez is a warrior. His fights are like rollercoaster rides. Saturday night was no exception. Against a fresher Francisco Vargas, Lopez engaged in warfare. He knows no other way. He landed some wicked shots, but Vargas took them. Finally, in round three, Lopez hit the canvas. He got up,of course. Sitting on his stool, glassy-eyed, Lopez, 31, wanted to fight on. His corner overruled him.
The loss was his fourth stoppage in two years. Asked later if he would retire, Lopez said he needed to talk to his family. Hopefully they tell him to quit. The former two-time champion has nothing to prove.
For Abner Mares, Saturday in Las Vegas was a night of firsts.
He was returning to the ring for the first time since suffering a devastating knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzales, 11 months ago. The fight was also his debut under the tutelage of noted trainer Virgil Hunter. His opponent, Jonathan Oquendo, is a limited but determined fighter.
The bout was competitive. Mares suffered a deep gash above his left eye in round four, but adapted and boxed his way out of trouble.
In round seven, some fans began to boo. Mares, one of the most exciting (and likeable) fighters on the planet, ignored the heckling and went on to win.
As is his custom, he admitted after the match that he wasn’t himself.
“It’s been eleven months,” Mares said. “I did feel the ring rust. Jonathan Oquendo gave me a tough fight. After this fight you will see a better Abner Mares. I will fight Jhonny Gonzalez right now and I want to fight the best. I am willing to fight anybody.”
Bouncing back from such a shocking loss is not easy. Mares got the win, and on this night, that’s all that really mattered.