By Rudy Mondragon
In a close fight on Saturday July 12, 2014, Erislandy Lara took on the young Saul Canelo Alvarez. In a fight where many boxing heads knew Canelo had the political power and the backing of a power house promotion company, the edge would no doubt favor the Mexican fighter.
When the scores were read and the winner was announced, Jimmy Lennon Jr. misread the script. It wasn’t Canelo who won the fight, it was Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) who in reality won on this night. Continuing to milk their cash cow, GBP rely on Canelo to bring them big bucks, especially in light of recent struggles after having lost their effective CEO, Richard Schaffer.
Do not get me wrong, there were things that Canelo did well on this night. He was aggressive, he did not allow Lara to counter effectively as he is used to, and his stamina and energy looked better than usual. Canelo however, was also ineffective in his aggression as many of his power shots missed wildly and the power shots connected lacked accuracy or were blocked by Lara. His most effective punch was the uppercut that drew a cut in Lara.
When asked about the fight, Canelo stated that Lara was running and that he should have ran a marathon. In the background, you see Oscar De La Hoya smiling and laughing. Ask Oscar however, if he felt like he was ‘running’ the night he was robbed against Tito Trinidad.
Lara on the other hand controlled the ring (ring generalship), drew Canelo into a chasing match, dictated the tempo, connect cleaner punches, and executed better defense. Had Lara been busier, Dave Moretti probably would have also given Lara the decision. At this point disregard Levi Martinez (117-111 for Canelo) as either Golden Boy Promotions were in his pockets, he didn’t pay attention to the fight, he had made up his mind before the fight started, or all of the above.
Respect for Canelo. No doubt about. He is 23 years old, already has multiple PPV events, and he comports himself very professionally. Shame on Golden Boy Promotions for putting him in their with the wolves early in his career and selling a false narrative that Canelo in the present is elite. He is not. For starters, this fighter is not even listed in the top ten P4P lists. He is a good fighter who still has a long way to go.
What is the point of putting Canelo in there against a wise, skillful, and athletic elite boxer in Floyd Mayweather back in 2013. The answer is simple: MONEY. Did Canelo learn much from that fight. Not so much, at least it didn’t show on July 12. What is the point of putting Canelo in there with a good boxer in Lara? This question depends on the actions that Canelo and his team make from this point on. From this fight, to me two things are clear: 1) Canelo is a one dimensional fighter who needs to get rid of the bad habit of swinging for the fences and 2) something that the BMB team has discussed for years now, Canelo needs to drop his training staff and move on with a new team.
My suggestion, hire Robert Garcia! Robert is a training who adapts to his individual fighters and can meet his fighters where they are. He is a trainer who lets you know of your bad habits and can help you heal from them. Look at the work he has done with Mikey Garcia and Marcos Maidana. Robert know’s he can’t change a fighter, but he can provide additional tools for them. At Canelo’s young age, working with Robert presents more learning opportunities than dead ends his current team offers.
Since money and false stories are created in boxing by power house promotional companies, it is important to raise these question: Has Canelo peaked? We need to look at this question and be honest. Has Canelo learned all he can from the sport or does he have intellectual room to grow? Can he add to his boxing repertoire or is this all Canelo brings to the ring?
When asked if he was outgrowing the 154lbs limit, Canelo said he intended to stay put. Smart move by a man who knows that the 160lbs is a danger zone that he intends to stay away from. Evidence like this and the fact that Saturday’s fight was at a catch-weight of 155lbs informs me that Canelo is struggling to make 154lbs and that he wants to stay in this weight class for as long as he can because he knows very well that every time he steps into the ring, he will be the bigger and stronger man.
In the end, Lara deserves a rematch that he will never get. He will continue to look for a big pay day that might come his way, but not any time soon. Canelo will go on to most likely face Cotto. With two fighters who each consider themselves the A Side, it will be interesting to see how the negotiation process goes down. Will it be in New York? Las Vegas? Will there be a catch-weight? Who will be announced first? Will they honor the fact that Miguel Cotto is the current WBC Middleweight champion? Time will tell.
*NOTE: For those who want to rewatch the fight, make sure you watch it in mute, so that all the cheers for all the Canelo misses do not influence your take on the July 12th 2014 winner.