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Wasted Opportunities – Why Lara should have done much more against Canelo

Canelo Alvarez Erislandy Lara(Picture credit: Hogan Photos) by J.R. Leon: After the overall lackluster performances by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Erislandy Lara during last nights’ Showtime pay-per-view event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, it was quite obvious that Lara’s game plan was to mimic Floyd Mayweather Jr. and use the “stick and move” strategy, which Mayweather Jr. used beautifully against Alvarez last September.

Unfortunately for Lara, his game plan didn’t pan out as he hoped, losing a questionable split decision and once again pushing him back into the second tier of boxing, when it comes to promotional backing.

Championship level Cuban boxing is a thing of beauty. If the basis of the game is to “hit and not get hit”, the Cuban school of boxing should be regarded as the Ivy League of the boxing world. With great fighters like Gerardo “Kid Gavilan” Gonzále, Eligio “Kid Chocolate” Montalvo and Ultiminio “Sugar” Ramos, the Cubans have always used this mantra as their “bread and butter”.

Erislandy Lara was supposed to be the next Cuban sensation, after the elusive Guillermo Rigondeaux, but with much better PPV revenue hopes due to his great punching power and a much fan friendly weight class. Unlike Rigondeaux, who many overnight fans consider to be a boring fighter because he rarely ever puts himself in a unfavorable boxing position, Lara has been in some all-out wars. He was dropped twice by the hard punching Alfredo Angulo but came back to out-punch and swell Angulo’s face to the point where the fight was stopped. He also made a fool out of Austin Trout and put an incredible performance landing 34% total punches to Trout’s 20%.

Needless to say, this was supposed to be his night, but he completely wasted the opportunity.

By deciding to school Canelo on the Cuban boxing ways, he tried too hard not to get hit and in return didn’t do enough to win the judges, nor quiet the pro-Mexican crowd, which elevated every Canelo punch landed with their cheers.

If he wanted to make a name for himself and show the world that he truly was the best light middleweight in the world and hopefully turn that into a fight against Mayweather Jr., he needed to do more. He needed to not only land the one-two combo, like he did quite beautifully many times, but do so repeatedly and with a vengeance. Whether it was the trainer who didn’t push him or Lara himself who couldn’t will himself to do more, it was a very painful fight to watch for me, if only because it could had been so much better.

At one point during the last few seconds of the twelve round I said out loud, “I don’t want either one to win. They don’t deserve it.” Should it had been a draw? I would have been happy with it. Was it a closed fight? Yes, definitely. Much closer than it needed to be, considering the fact that Mayweather Jr. left Lara the perfect blueprint on how to beat Alvarez and this is what makes this loss to Alvarez even more painful for Lara.

Lara had everything he needed to beat Alvarez. Speed, accuracy, defense and hunger, unfortunately he was not able to make a conclusive case in a pro-Mexican crowd, in a pro-Canelo promotion, in a once in a lifetime opportunity. Lara still gets to keep his belt, but that belts’ significance is now nullified with this lackluster performance.

Will Lara get a shot at stardom again? Considering the fact he’s still the champion, we know he will get some type of promotional backing. Will the non-boxing crowd care? Probably not. This was his night to make a case for the Cuban school of boxing, unfortunately he didn’t pass the test.

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