Alvarez deserves respect for victory

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LAS VEGAS -- It's not easy to predict a fight will end in split decision. Saying a fight will be close is one thing, but to actually predict three judges sitting ringside won't agree at the end of it is impressive stuff.

And yet, prior to Saturday's junior middleweight showdown between Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara, more than a handful of boxing pugilists were willing to say, "Hey, guys, it's possible. Given the two styles here, we could have a controversial ending."

Sure enough, a split decision is exactly what Jimmy Lennon Jr. read after 12 rounds of boxing between two very different styles. In the end, Alvarez got the nod. Here are five things we learned from Golden Boy Promotions' Honor and Glory card.

1. Bottom line: Lara's style comes with a risk

Another counter puncher claimed he was "robbed" in a judges' decision on Saturday. It's happened many times before in boxing and it will happen again. Maybe Lara is the most skilled junior middleweight in the world, but he can't claim he dominated Alvarez. His style makes it difficult to ever claim that.

Like other counter fighters have done, Lara seemed to get hung up more on making Alvarez look bad with his defense than scoring any points of his own. His post-fight statement of, "more than anything, I made him look bad," spoke volumes.

His output in the second half of the fight was low. There were times Alvarez nearly fell over himself trying to touch Lara, but (particularly in Rounds 7-12) Lara didn't capitalize offensively on it. He called the final decision, "disgraceful" and demanded a rematch. That's another risk about that style, though. Few want to see it again.

2. Regardless of how you scored the fight, Alvarez deserves your respect

There is something to be said for a prizefighter who hunts down challenges, rather than flees them. Alvarez has now proved twice in back-to-back years he is ready to be handled without kid gloves. He's given Golden Boy Promotions gray hairs by going after Austin Trout and Lara -- two difficult opponents he didn't have to fight.

"I wanted to give you guys this fight because you said I wouldn't take it," he said.

True. And in a sport in which that doesn't always happen, Alvarez's willingness to do so is admirable.

3. The selling power of Canelo is not going anywhere

Maybe Canelo vs. Lara was a pay-per-view event. Arguably, it wasn't. The soon-to-be 24-year-old has been built and molded into a star, however, and his talent and wit is doing nothing to hurt that. Major fights loom, including a potential mega fight with newly crowned middleweight world champion Miguel Cotto.

As Oscar De La Hoya put it, "there is a line of guys" to fight Alvarez. And it's getting to a point where as long as the name "Canelo" is on the fight poster, it almost doesn't matter who exactly is in that line -- it will sell.

4. Jury still out on Abner Mares, Virgil Hunter marriage

Mares returned to the ring for the first time in nearly one year. Questions abounded over how he would look in his first fight since a dramatic knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez (and first appearance with Hunter in his corner).

After 10 rounds, it's hard to really answer many of those questions. Mares won the fight, out-landing Jonathan Oquendo in total punches 163 to 84 according to ringside stats. He looked pretty flat in doing so, however, nothing like the Mares who ran through Daniel Ponce De Leon 14 months ago in Las Vegas.

5. But verdict is in on Juan Manuel Lopez ...

And that verdict is: Probably time to retire. Lopez, 31, has been knocked out four times in less than four years. The once promising Puerto Rican never got it together after two knockout losses to Orlando Salido in 2011 and 2012. He looked downright awful against Francisco Vargas on Saturday, displaying plenty of courage but little skill and even less chin. Who would have won between he and Yuriorkis Gamboa "back in the day" will forever remain bar stool banter.

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