Thursday, July 10, 2014

Alvarez-Lara: A Classic In The Making?

From time to time something that I am asked by both the hardcore Boxing enthusiast and as well as the casual fan is for my opinion on what makes a legitimate star in the sport.  There is no simple answer to that question as there are many aspects in the development and promotion of a fighter that has to be taken into consideration. If however, someone would ask for my opinion on what I felt would make a rising star into a legitimate live gate and pay-per-view attraction, I could probably answer that question in a more simple way.

Of course, if a fighter has a crowd pleasing style it will obviously generate interest from both fans and experts alike, but that is only one aspect of the equation in my opinion.  In this day and age where more often than not Boxing’s top stars are showcased live on pay-per-view television almost exclusively, one thing that I take into consideration is what can make a fighter into a legitimate star of the sport is their willingness to take on all comers.

In the case of former Jr. Middleweight world champion Saul Alvarez, he has all the ingredients that make a star. An entertaining crowd pleasing style, a significant fan following and a willingness to take risks as he faces the best of the best. Such will be the case when the former world champion faces top Jr. Middleweight contender Erislandy Lara on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Alvarez, who last fought in March of this year scoring an impressive tenth round stoppage of the always “Game” Alfredo Angulo will be fighting for the second time since suffering his lone defeat in September of last year to Floyd Mayweather. Sometimes it is not uncommon to see fighters who suffer their first defeat begin the rebuilding process by taking on opponents who are perhaps not well-known and who are not considered to be dangerous. There are however, times were a fighter who suffers a loss will opt to take on the toughest competition available coming off of that loss.

In the case of Saul Alvarez, it is important to remember that his lone defeat came against a fighter who is widely considered the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Despite losing that fight, Alvarez was able to have his moments and held his own. It did not surprise me to see him take on a dangerous opponent in the form of Alfredo Angulo in his first fight following his loss against Mayweather. Alvarez dominated the fight against Angulo and solidified his status as one of the cornerstones of the Jr. Middleweight division.

Alvarez showing again that he is willing to take on all comers will face another dangerous obstacle when he faces Erislandy Lara. Lara, a slick southpaw boxer/puncher is the kind of fighter who could potentially give Alvarez trouble. Many will remember Lara being on the losing end of a controversial decision against former Welterweight world champion Paul Williams in July 2011, in a fight where many observers, this one included felt he had won convincingly. The loss to Williams is the only loss Lara has suffered thus far in his career. Lara has the ability to be elusive, time his opponents with counter punches, as well as end fights quickly as he did against Ronald Hearns in April 2012.

One could make the argument that Lara’s craft and skill has resulted in him being avoided by some fighters. Lara is after all highly skilled and it is understandable based on his attributes that he may be viewed as a high risk/low reward option for fighters who are considered marquee draws. Lara however, has more than earned his chance to showcase his skills on Boxing’s marquee stage after compiling a professional record of 19-1-2, with 12 Knockouts and earning interim/regular status in the World Boxing Association's (WBA) Jr. Middleweight ratings.

Among his nineteen wins, Lara also holds two victories over recent opponents of Saul Alvarez in scoring a twelve round unanimous decision over Austin Trout last December and surviving two knockdowns to stop the aforementioned Alfredo Angulo in ten rounds in June of last year. Although there might be some who would say that this is a high risk/low reward scenario for Saul Alvarez, fighters who become legitimate stars and more specifically significant pay-per-view draws should take risks to solidify their standing.

Stylistically, this fight is one of those fights where you can see an argument for either fighter winning the fight. Both fighters can box, have the ability to be compact with their offense, are excellent counter punchers, and have the ability to end a fight quickly. It will be interesting to see who takes the initiative from the opening bell. Although one could likely assume a tactical Boxing match early on, I believe that this fight could have a little of everything.

Even though one could make a valid argument for either fighter having the edge heading into this fight, I believe that the ingredients are there for what just might be a classic encounter. The type of encounter that could be a topic of discussion for Boxing fans for years to come. In my view this fight is a risk for both fighters and frankly a toss up as to who will win. 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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