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July 31, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: Canelo Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara

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Sam Morris

WBA junior middleweight champion Erislandy Lara pretends to spar with Prince Duarte during a media workout Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

Let’s welcome boxing to the Play of the Day.

Tonight’s pay-per-view card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena will bring the sweet science’s overdue debut in our daily series that uses odds from the South Point and features $10,000 starting bankrolls.

Erislandy Lara plus-190 vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez: $330 to win $627

There’s a reason Oscar De La Hoya and others in Alvarez’s camp advised against fighting Lara. The Cuban defector is an extremely dangerous opponent.

Canelo is the more established star, but Lara just might be the better fighter. At minimum, he’s not as far behind as the betting line suggests.

Earlier in the week, Lara was almost a 50-cent shorter underdog but Alvarez fans have thankfully arrived in town and driven the price up. Canelo’s enormous fan base could cause a problem in betting on Lara, as it’s tough to imagine the Mexican losing a close decision in an arena that will explode with applause every time he touches the Cuban.

But at nearly 2-to-1, it’s worth taking the risk. And it might not be competitive anyway.

If either fighter pulls away, it projects to be Lara. His two advantages in the fight are his speed and defense.

The last time Canelo fought someone with those attributes, it didn’t end well. Lara is far from Floyd Mayweather Jr., but he’s the closer than any other Canelo opponent.

Lara’s only loss, to Paul Williams in 2011, is heavily disputed. Trained by Lara Shields, Lara will get significantly better instruction in his corner.

After the Mayweather loss, many thought Canelo should expand beyond his lifelong coaches of father-son combination Chepo and Eddy Reynoso. He refused, a concern that shouldn’t be ignored after one victory over Alfredo Angulo.

Too many factors fall in Lara’s favor to pass on the big price.

Standings: Bern (36-24-1, $13,579), Keefer (29-34, $8,926), Brewer (24-36-3, $2,785)

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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