In a bout filled with multiple ebbs and flows, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (44-1, 31 KOs) did enough in the eyes of the judges to win a split decision over Erislandy Lara (19-2, 12 KOs) at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Levi Martinez scored the fight 117-111 for Alvarez, while Judge Jerry Roth scored it 115-113 for Lara and Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for Alvarez.
Maxboxing.com scored the bout 114-114, a draw.
Lara boxed beautifully in the opening rounds. He stung Alvarez with crafty combinations. Alvarez stalked but was slower and missing punches. Lara, as quick as a cobra, snapped Alvarez’s head back with his long left.
Alvarez, unable to corner Lara, began to go to the body at the end of round three. Lara worked off his jab, but Alvarez was beginning to find him.
Alvarez, 23, did better in round four. He invested more time to Lara’s body in the next few rounds. The strategy was working. Lara began to slow down, but he was still dangerous--stopping on a dime and stinging Alvarez with shots.
Lara battled back in round five, but Alvarez was fully in control in rounds six and seven. His hooks to the midsection were bothering Lara. Alvarez chased while Lara used lateral movement to stay away. Alvarez opened up a cut over the left eye of Lara in round seven. He kept working the body. A five-punch combination by Alvarez found Lara.
The young Mexican icon had the crowd and the momentum on his side.
Lara, 31, found his second wind in the next few rounds. The clever Cuban clipped Alvarez with hard lefts to the face. Alvarez absorbed the punches and walked after Lara.
The fight was up for grabs heading into the last two rounds. Lara was back to using the ring. His punches had regained some of their sting. Alvarez countered back with what else, body shots. He came out strong in the last stanza, but ate a few sharp combinations.
“I came to fight. You don’t win by running,” said Alvarez in the ring. “He has a great jab, but you can’t win a fight by running. I‘ll give him a rematch when he learns how to fight.”
“I did my fight,” said the disappointed Lara. “I won this fight. I was controlling the rounds.”
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