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Canelo Alvarez vs Erislandy Lara: 4 reasons Saul's stock may have risen

Lee Cleveland Updated
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In March, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (then 43-1-1, 31 KO), in a grand display of speed, accuracy and sheer brutality, defeated Alfredo Angulo, earning a 10th Round stoppage over the battle-toughened "El Perro." It was, perhaps, his most impressive fight to date and certainly a performance that increased, or at least restored, his credibility in boxing as a top-tier prizefighter and legitmate superstar.

(Image courtesy of Showtime)

Riding high after the Angulo bout, Canelo seemingly refused to heed the advice of his team, agreeing to face the dangerous Erislandy Lara next in a high-risk endeavor that reportedly yielded him a mere $1.5 million USD.

And Canelo vs Lara was true to form as the Cuban proved every bit as tough and crafty as most expected. 

Saul escaped with a split decision last night and valid arguments can be made for and against the judges' verdicts.

Given the decision was not without controversy, did Canelo help or hurt his stock last night?

There's no question Lara's stature "probably" rises.

Only time will tell what lies in store for the soon-to-be 24 year old Mexican.

Do you think Alvarez did himself a favor by facing Lara?

Why Alvarez may have boosted his stock...

1) Accepting the challenge

Erislandy Lara, one of the most skillful and athletic fighters today, would be a threat to anyone in the 154 and 160 lb divisions, including Floyd Mayweather and Gennady Golovkin. However, although the Cuban's fighting abilities are top-tier, he lacks a following large enough to generate the level of interest that would yield high-money returns.

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez was gutsy enough to face a difficult, highly-avoided opponent in relatively low-reward affair and that alone merits praise.

2) Resolve

Saul, for only the second time in his career, faced adversity at boxing's highest level and rose to the occasion this time. If anyone is capable of frustrating an opponent in the ring it's Erislandy Lara.

After a dismal first three rounds, Alvarez showed poised and dug deep to get himself back into the fight; something that's not easy to do when battling a faster, slicker, elite-level opponent who refuses to stand and engage.

3) Fighting style

While boxing purists may drool over Lara's exemplary skills and ring intelligence, the masses, who generate the real revenue in the sport, prefer fights like Hagler vs Hearns and Gatti vs Ward 1,2 and 3.

All one must do is find the greatest mythical sports hero of our time to understand what sells. Would the Rocky series have been nearly as popular if Balboa employed a tentative, tactical style?

In baseball, a 1-0 game can be a 'thing of beauty' to the hardcore fan who understands the intricacies of the sport. But the masses want to see grand slams, stolen bases and double plays.

Indeed, chicks dig the long ball.

The mainstream enjoy 80 yard touchdown passes, 360 degree slam dunks, reverse lay-ups and, yes, a bit of ring violence and drama. The general public isn't overly impressed with technique. To them, tactical fights are too much like chess matches... and 1-0 baseball games, of course.

Canelo, with his explosiveness and fan-friendly style, is boxing's equivalent to the 'long ball.' He may not have scored points with purists last night, including trainers and other fighters, but the mainstream welcomes his style of fighting. In their eyes, Alvarez was the braveheart while Lara was running scared. It's a limited point of view but that's what makes them mainstream.

4) Victory

While Saul's victory is being disputed by many (if not most), a fair number of viewers insist it was deserved. Unlike Tim Bradley after upseting Manny Pacquiao in 2012, Saul has a strong contingent backing him.

Win or lose, Alvarez officially defeated one of the most difficult-to-face fighters in the game and a legitimate bad *** in Erislandy Lara.  The name enhances his resume and silences his detractors who once insisted he made a career of fighting over-the-hill opponents and puffed-up lightweights.

Who's Next?
So who's next for Canelo? Will he face Miguel Cotto as some expect?

How much interest would Cotto vs Canelo generate? Perhaps more importantly, how much interest did last night's fight generate?

Where does Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez go from here?


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