All-rounder Alvarez has the edge
Our Simon Crawford believes Saul Alvarez will have too much for Erislandy Lara when they clash in Las Vegas this weekend.
- Related Content
Saul Alvarez has another chance to further enhance his growing reputation when he faces slick southpaw Erislandy Lara in Las Vegas this weekend.
Still only 23, Mexican Alvarez (43-1-1 31KOs) has bounced back from a one-sided loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr back in September with a 10th round KO of the tough Alfredo Angulo in March.
He has vowed that he will never shirk a challenge and apart from a rematch with Mayweather, 31-year-old Cuba-born Lara is just about the toughest opponent out there for him right now.
Although Lara (19-1-2 12KOs) is the reigning WBA light-middleweight, this fight will take place at a catchweight of 155lbs - just one pound above the light-middleweight limit.
This was also the case when Alvarez beat Angulo and is perhaps a clear sign that he will step up to middleweight sooner, rather than later.
Many people have this as a 50/50 fight but while I think Lara will win some of the rounds I believe Alvarez's style - fast and powerful combinations - will do more to catch the eye of the judges.
Vastly experienced for one so young, you would have to say Alvarez's best days are still ahead of him and I have no doubt he will be a dominant world champion for many years to come.
True, he was given a reality check by Mayweather when many expected him to pull off an upset. He found it hard to lay a glove on "The Money" but a loss to arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet is no disgrace.
That one defeat aside, he has beaten the likes of Austin Trout, Shane Mosley and Kermit Cintron, as well as English duo Ryan Rhodes and Matthew Hatton.
For me he has the perfect all-round game - a solid defence, good footwork, an accurate jab and damaging, knockout power.
Lara - who defected from Cuba in 2008 in order to enter the paid ranks - has only suffered one career loss and that was a controversial split decision to Paul Williams in 2011, while there was also a majority draw against current IBF light-middleweight champion Carlos Molina the same year and a technical draw with a cut Vanes Martirosyan in November 2012.
The 2005 world amateur champion has earned a reputation as a man to be avoided because of his awkward, elusive, counter-punching style.
As I said earlier, Alavarez found it tough to get to Mayweather so he could use his superior punch power and Lara could be just as difficult.
Certainly in the early stages I can see Lara being on top but eventually his lack of durability will be brought into question and once Alvarez finds his range then he will get himself on top.
I also believe Lara might not be able to resist getting involved in a tear-up and that will play right into Alvarez's fists.
There has been a war of words between the two on social media and it could be said that Lara has goaded his opponent into Saturday night's clash.
"This is real. This is very personal," Alvarez said. "He offended me. He offended my person. He offended Mexican boxing. So, yes, it's very personal."
Lara insists that Alvarez's apparent reluctance to face him will work in his favour.
"I forced this fight. It wasn't because he wanted to take this fight [that he agreed to fight]," said Lara.
"We've been after this fight for two years and I've been putting pressure on social media and interviews and jumping on stage, that's what pressured him to take this fight.
"I know he didn't want this fight, and on July 12 you're going to see the reason why he didn't want this fight."
Lara has reason to be confident because of his slippery style, but ultimately I don't think it will be enough to keep him out of harm's way for 12 rounds.
Alvarez has the power to hurt him and I even see a knockdown or two on the way to him taking a points decision.
The Mexican is the favourite with the bookies and 8/13 with Coral is the best you will get on him, while Lara is as much as 9/5 with bwin.
I'm convinced this will be a clear points win for Alvarez so I'm taking the general 6/4 for him to win by decision or technical decision.