I saw the replay of the bout between Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara that was staged over the weekend, and while I am aware of the debate as to who won the fight, my vote still goes to the Mexican.
Okay, Lara outlanded Alvarez in head punches but the Mexican connected with a lot more body punches that had more authority. And while Lara looked masterful in landing his counterpunches in some occasions, Alvarez never lost poise and stuck to his game plan of stalking the Cuban and landing combinations.
Just observe how Lara would feign occasionally or throw a jab to throw Alvarez off guard, and the Mexican did not lose his poise much of the time.
Alvarez even opened a gash on Lara’s right eye with a vicious uppercut in the fifth round. Luckily, the uppercut did not land flush on Lara’s chin—you know what I mean.
Although Lara made Alvarez miss on many occasions because the Cuban employed a somewhat effective “run and gun” tactic, I must say that I do not want to watch another fight where one of the protagonists runs much of the time, like Lara.
Lara’s run and gun tactic is not as impressive as Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s slick counterpunching moves where the American can stand and throw counters, or employ some lateral movement. I have yet to see Mayweather employ the run and gun tactic in his recent fights, so there is no point in saying that the counterpunching skills of the American and the Cuban are similar.
Okay, so what am I trying to say? It is simple—Lara isn’t the type of boxer who could blossom into a superstar if all he does in an elite-level bout is run and gun. Hasn’t Lara learned from his compatriot Guillermo Rigondeaux, who partly employed a run and gun tactic when he defeated Nonito Donaire in early 2013?
Are we all surprised that after his defeat to Rigondeaux, Donaire immediately got two fights that helped reestablish his pound-for-pound status. Well, Rigondeaux’s second fight since Donaire has been made official, but with a 37-year old Thai fighter whose record is 63-2 with 28 knockouts.
In my previous column, I said that boxing is not all about fistic brutality and that skills are also very important. I was reflecting on the uselessness of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana rematch, because the American will just beat the hell out of the Argentinian the second time around.
Comparing Mayweather-Maida–na and Alvarez-Lara can reveal some interesting things: Mayweather is no runner like Lara, and Maidana is unlike Alvarez, because the Mexican calculates before throwing a punch and sticks to his gameplan.
And lo and behold, Maidana gets his rematch with Mayweather because the Argentinian has a devil-may-care attitude in the ring that pleases fans. And let’s be fair —there are time when Mayweather abandons his counterpunching style to mix it up with his opponent.
As for Lara, I won’t be surprised that his demands or pleas for a rematch with Alvarez will fall on deaf ears. Besides, the match was close and the decision could have gone either way. And let’s face it—in a fight that is close, it’s the fan-friendly style that will get the nod of the judges and the style of Alvarez pleases fight fans.
I hate to say this—the Cuban style of counterpunching may win gold medals at the amateurs. But the Cuban style of pure counterpunching still won’t attract fans in droves at the professional ranks.