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Canelo vs Lara odds: Will Alvarez's popularity influence perceptions?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Still trying to decide on whether to order tonight's Canelo vs Lara bout?

If so, the odds may be a strong factor in your decision and oddsmakers suggest this bout is anything but a sure thing.

At this moment, Canelo is anywhere from a -175 to -185 favorite, while Lara is roughly a +165 underdog.

However, many believe the smart money is on Erislandy Lara.

When it was announced Saul "Canelo" Alvarez would face the highly-skilled but exceedingly awkward Erislandy Lara, many experts insisted it was the wrong fight for the young star. After all, Lara, despite his abilities, is virtually an unknown to casual fans. As a result, the risks Canelo will assume may seemingly outweigh the perks of winning.

However, Canelo will be strong A-side fighter tonight and that will work to his advantage.

Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole recently stated, "He [Canelo] is “one of the sport's biggest draws and most popular fighters.” 

“Despite calling himself ‘The American Dream,’ Lara has very little presence in the U.S. And though he's had several exciting fights on national television, he carries the unfair reputation of being a boring fighter," said Iole.

With a huge following and youthful, good looks, many would agree the red-headed Mexican with the smashing fighting style is the future of boxing and a tailor made star. Combine those elements with Lara's obscurity and unpopular fighting style and one may surmise the Cuban must be decisively better than his opponent in order to prevail tonight.

So is a fighter's popularity taken into account by judges?

The answer may lie somewhere in between yes and no.

Overall star power
Consciously, judges attempt to render fair scores but, subconsciously, they are human and know full well who the impact fighters are. Canelo is the star and tonight is supposed to be his party, the second of Alvarez's three scheduled PPV shindigs this year.

The Crowd
In addition, Canelo's punches, regardless of whether they land, will draw the louder cheers. Given a relatively equal output, Alvarez will appear the more consequential fighter as a result. Judges are not supposed to take the crowd into account either but, again, they are human and imperfect.

Contrasting styles
And yes, the judges are well-aware one fighter has been labelled as a crowd-pleaser while the other is considered a bit boring and overly tactical. If Lara exceeds Canelo in activity rate and punches landed, judges may, subconsciously of course, give Alvarez the benefit of the doubt via his presumed ring generalship and harder punching. 

Who is far more likely to win a close fight?

Will Canelo enter this fight with a small to moderate unfair advantage?

Yes - and oddsmakers realize it.

Welcome to boxing... It has always been this way.

Not exactly De La Hoya vs Trinidad
And yes, Oscar De La Hoya, on the A-side, did lose an arguably close fight to Felix Trindad in 1999. As a matter of fact, some advocates for De La Hoya still cry "robbery" today.  

But Canelo vs Lara isn't exactly Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad. Keep in mind, Canelo is the strong A-side fighter tonight.

In his 1999 bout with Trinidad, De La Hoya, the A-side fighter, faced a very popular opponent with a massive following and electric fighting style. 

Boxing may be the 'Sweet Science' but the art of officiating is very human and extremely subjective; perhaps even moreso than in team sports.

But isn't that how life is? How many politicians, actors, musicians and people in others trades have been overlooked for interior counterparts who looked a certain way, had deeper pockets or emanated a unique charisma?

Canelo and Erislandy are on the same level even though Alvarez's popularity and drawing power suggest otherwise.

So back to the odds for Canelo vs Lara...

If Canelo vs Lara was a foot race, Canelo would enter tonight's bout with a proverbial 'head start.' But despite having so many advantages, oddsmakers are listing Alvarez as the very slight favorite.

What does that really mean?

Erislandy has garnered tremendous respect in the boxing world and would probably be the slight favorite himself if not for his opponent's rock star status.

But regardless of who the odds favor, this bout is a dead even match-up in the ring, if not at casinos and (subconciously) in the minds of judges.

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