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Could Erislandy Lara be finished at the top level?

Canelo Alvarez Erislandy LaraBy Gav Duthie: Erislandy Lara 19-2-2 (12), you tried and you failed. You can forget a rematch against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs), you can forget another big payday, your life at the top table of boxing could be all but over. This opinion is no reflection on Lara’s ability, some of the shots he picked against Canelo on Saturday were brilliant.

At times he even made Canelo look worse than Floyd Mayweather Jr did in his 12 round majority decision win over him last September. This is not about ability its about ‘marketability’ and Lara lost that on Saturday night as well as the fight. 

I’m not one of those fans that thinks that every fighter should be running out there swinging like Arturo Gatti or taking needless punishment to keep us amused. A fighters obligation is not to entertain me as the fan, his only obligation is to win the fight. But that’s where the problem lies, if your not going to entertain you better make sure you win.

I don’t see a huge amount of difference between the ability of Lara and Mayweather but Lara has now fought 23 fights, Mayweather exactly twice that of 46. Where Floyd has won every single one of them Lara has failed to win on four occasions. Mayweather is not the highest paid athlete in sport because he is the most entertaining, far from it. We pay our money because we want to see if someone can beat him. If your a fan you admire his craft, if you hate him you want to be watching live when he gets knocked out. 

Lara’s performance on Saturday reminded me a little bit of Bradley v Marquez and David Haye v Valuev. Both fights bored me too tears but they both got the win they needed. Lara thinks he boxed the same as Mayweather against Alvarez but that’s not true. I can’t remember him throwing one meaningful counter-punch the whole fight. He never used any of the angles that Floyd did. He jabbed and ran. Canelo was horrible also but he did what he needed to do. After the first 6 rounds I thought Lara was going to win easily until Canelo realized he wasn’t going to hit a target that was running from one end of the ring to the other. The only thing Canelo could do was go to the body and he did that. When the fight finished I had no strong feelings either way on who won but I did decide I would never get up at 4:30am (UK time) ever again to watch Lara. 

Marketability

Its hard to hate Erislandy Lara, its difficult to like him also. I would imagine to most there is indifference to what he does next. Who would want to fight him next? Whats in it for you. He’s proved he’s not unbeatable but he can make you look stupid. Nobody would watch a rematch. The one saving grace is that Lara never lost his WBA title because the fight was at 155 lbs. He needs to be fighting someone like James Kirkland to draw him out of his shell but Kirkland isn’t anywhere near a mandatory position with the WBA. Any fight against lower level opposition will generate zero interest.

‘The American Dream’

This is what Lara calls himself. He loves the freedom of America and the opportunities it has given him to provide a life for his family. He mentions the hard work required and risking his life in shark infested waters to escape a country ran by a ruthless dictator to better himself. For me he didn’t fight like that. He must realize he needed to give more. He seemed scared to be anywhere near Canelo when he came at him. He landed 10 more punches the whole fight so he wins right? Not a chance, that’s amateur boxing. He boxed like an amateur as many Cubans understandably do. The position he has put himself in is very difficult. Saul Alvarez took a massive risk in facing him and I respect that. He could have looked much better against a Carlos Molina, James Kirkland or Miguel Cotto but Canelo knew that people saw Lara as the next best out there. That public interest in Lara will be gone now. He will now be a completely avoided fighter by both fighters and promoters and that’s down to the way he boxed, nobody else is responsible. 


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