Sunday, July 13, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Turns out Oscar De La Hoya can still pack quite the punch.
The 41-year-old former world champion and current promoting tycoon may have landed the most significant strike Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where Saul “Canelo” Alvarez defeated Erislandy Lara by split decision (117-111, 115-113, 113-115). It was just with his words, not his fists.
At the post-fight press conference, Lara and his team flailed protests like punches from a boxer desperate for a late knockout in an attempt to play up controversy and stir support for an immediate rematch. The Golden Boy Promotions president silenced them with an uppercut of reality.
“No one wants a rematch,” De La Hoya proclaimed at the podium in the event’s final words with Lara standing inches behind him. “Now there are 10 guys in line. Lara just lost, and now he has to wait in line. That’s the way this works.”
De La Hoya and Alvarez won’t meet to discuss the future until next weekend at the earliest. Although he solidified himself as the most prized asset on the Golden Boy roster by beating Lara, Alvarez plans to put business aside for the next few days.
For the first time in nearly a decade, Alvarez won’t be in a fight camp during his birthday when he turns 24 years old on Friday. He’s going to throw a party in his native Guadalajara, Mexico, for the occasion.
All the while, De La Hoya will ruminate on options for Alvarez’s next fight, tentatively scheduled for November. He’ll consider veteran star Miguel Cotto, knockout fiend James Kirkland and undefeated aggressor Gennady Golovkin.
There will be other options, but Lara won’t be among the names discussed. Neither De La Hoya nor Alvarez believed Lara’s performance in one of the year’s most anticipated bouts merited another chance.
“He talked so much,” Alvarez said through a translator. “He said he was going to take me to school. Well, guess what? I don’t think anyone wants to go to that school.”
Immediate rematches traditionally materialize for two reasons: the first bout proves inconclusive in determining the better fighter and/or brings enough action to swell the demand.
Some will argue Canelo vs. Lara fits on the first account, but none can suggest the second. The fight was a letdown, with much of the blame falling on Lara.
Weary of exchanging with Alvarez, Lara backed up for the vast majority of 12 rounds and rarely engaged with anything beyond soft jabs.
“There’s a saying that to make love you need a partner,” Alvarez cracked. “Same thing in boxing. You need a partner to make a great fight.”
Lara argued he was unfairly criticized. He never contemplated switching his approach during the fight because he thought it was succeeding.
Lara wound up with the overall statistical advantage, landing 107 of 386 punches to Alvarez’s 97 of 415.
“I did my job today,” Lara said through a translator. “It’s disgraceful what they did to me. … I showed I was better than him.”
An alternate view of the numbers could support Alvarez winning. Although he landed just nine jabs throughout the entire fight, Alvarez got the edge in significant strikes 88 to 52 over Lara.
The way Lara constantly retreated made it difficult for him to ever attack with much power. Alvarez, meanwhile, swung viciously and connected on 73 power punches to Lara’s body.
Lara would hear none of it. He insisted the body shots had no effect.
“Oscar’s a boxer,” Lara said. “He’s been robbed before. He knows in his heart it was wrong, and so does Canelo.”
But De La Hoya planted his feet like a pugilist ready to fire his hardest stuff. He stood his ground.
The promoter hasn’t lost the fighter’s mentality.
“Lara is a very slick, very confusing, very difficult fighter,” De La Hoya concluded. “That was true all along. But Canelo won tonight, and now we must move on.”