Buckle With The Knuckle: Tap-Jaw Matchup / Canelo vs. Lara (w/ Prediction)
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Buckle With The Knuckle: Tap-Jaw Matchup / Canelo vs. Lara (w/ Prediction)
By Zito, Doghouse Boxing (July 9, 2014)

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara
Photo © Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Even for a championship boxing match, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara has the potential to live up to be one of the greatest bouts in recent history. Potential is the key word for both men, and whomever can maximize it will most likely have the upper hand.

On the surface, Alvarez seems to glow and shine with potential while Lara appears to smoothly let his potential leak out. This is a contrast that cannot be overlooked or underestimated. Alvarez with his explosive style has never encountered the slick fluidity of Lara, nor has the liquid-like style of Lara ever faced a complete package of boxing TNT which Alvarez provides. We can examine each fighters past bouts with common opponents, but that still may not yield us any perception as to what may happen on July 12. Alvarez handled Alfredo Angulo with relative ease while Lara struggled against Angulo until he was able to stop 'El Perro'. On the other hand, Lara almost effortlessly outclassed Austin Trout while Alvarez seemed to have momentary lapses of patience in a win against Trout. So now that Lara and Alvarez are finally facing one another, we have to search hard for the variables of victory.

Variables of Victory: Saul Alvarez - Canelo nearly has the complete physical package for an offensive fighter. He has fast hands with very good power. Alvarez is also becoming a more educated all-around pugilist. Defensive responsibility and punch placement have lately appeared to be more prevalent in his arsenal. That can have a big impact on this fight. Lara is a fighter that will use his feet about as much as he will use his fist. In this particular contest, Alvarez cannot have his familiar lapses of patience. Aggressive punch placement on a slick hands-down boxer such as Lara can be highly effective. If Saul can cautiously and continually cut the distance between him and Lara, then he will find himself inside of Erislandy's strike zone. Lara is not regarded as an inside fighter, nor does it seem that he has the desire to fight there. Although getting inside on Lara is no easy task, it can be done. If a slow, direct, and deliberate Angulo can get on the inside and effectively touch Lara, what is to say that Alvarez cannot do the same at an even more efficient rate. For Canelo, the jab may not work for him as well as it has in previous bouts. The rangy southpaw moving style of Lara will nullify most jabs. Alvarez will have to use feints, head movement, and quick foot burst to get in on Erislandy. Once he's on the inside, Canelo will have to land hard body punches to slow Lara down. Erislandy also has a habit of bringing his right hand to his hip, mostly after jabbing. This can expose him to the left hook, one of Alvarez's main weapons.

Variables of Victory: Erislandy Lara - Lara is the billboard of a difficult style matchup. He is quick, smart, a southpaw, has great reactions, and he is hard to find without being found first. Ring generalship is Erislandy's greatest asset, and it can play a significant part in this fight. Lara has quicker and more educated footwork than Canelo. Although the edge in hand speed may go to Alvarez, it is hard to hit what is not there. Alvarez does not fight with the come-forward-at-all-cost style of an Angulo. Canelo is much more patient and will wait for moments of opportunity before letting his fist fly in powerful combinations. Lara's command of the ring can give him the ability to not let this happen on a consistent basis. Also, Alvarez has been in control during all of his fights save one. Canelo has not had to deal with much adversity. Erislandy on the other hand has been down a few times in his career, and has had to come back against the difficulties which Angulo presented to him. Overcoming adversity is a huge bonus for a fighter, especially when facing another who has rarely had to deal with adverse situations in the ring.

Prediction: Rarely do we see such contrast in fighting styles at this high of a level. These two men are the best fighters in the 154 lb division. As exciting as this fight may seem, I'm not sure if it will live to the buildup. Neither guy is a knockdown drag-out fighter. Both men take their time in the ring. For the most part, this fight should have a lot of feeling and fencing. While both are skilled, it will be in different areas of boxing that these skills will play a part. Lara is a highly trained professional boxer within the sport of boxing. Alvarez is a groomed professional fighter within the arena of prizefighting. Will this bout turn out to be a sporting event, or a fight? Alvarez's best chance at winning is to keep the fight stationary and at close quarters. Lara does not play that game what so ever. It will be up to Canelo to push the action and take the fight to Erislandy. Although he may have some success, chase and catch are not Alvarez's strong suits. Armor is not a strong suit for Lara, but it may not have to be in this fight. With a style matchup such as this one, avoiding shots becomes just as important as landing them. Canelo has explosive fist, but can he get them to the elusive target that Lara makes of himself. Many past fights with similar style matchups gives us a good indication to what may happen. Most smooth boxers of a high caliber are hard to handle, especially in big fights where the preparations are concentrated and intense. This should be no different. The lateral movement and punching angles that Lara present will be too much for Alvarez. While this fight will be much more competitive than Alvarez vs Mayweather, much of the action will be eerily identical. A patient Canelo will slowly stalk Erislandy while steadily seeking opportunities to explode. This will play more into Lara's strategy. Alvarez will have his moments of knuckular burst, but they will be too few and too far in between. The dancing and pot-shots of Lara will get him through the early part of the bout. Canelo will eventually tire (one of the only knocks on him) in the later rounds becoming less effective. Even though this will be somewhat closely contested, Erislandy Lara will deserve an 8 rd to 4 rd decision. Whether the judges see things this way...?


Buckle with the Knuckle is an installment of fight breakdowns, analysis, and predictions presented by Zito and Tai of The Fightin' Words Radio Show. Catch our host Zito, Tai, and Butch every Saturday at 6:00pm on The Fightin' Words Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio.

Questions/Opinions: Contact Zito and Tai at bucklewiththeknuckle@gmail.com

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