The Cuban conundrum

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By Jingo Quijano

Last Round

Saturday, July 12, 2014

AFTER Saul Alvarez (43-1, 31 KOs) defeated Alfredo Angulo via TKO in 10 one-sided rounds last March, he looked forward to making a triumphant speech and reveling in the adoration of his fans at the post-fight press conference.

After all, in his previous fight he was on the opposing end of a humiliating defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr., and that wasn’t a post-fight conference he looked forward to attending.

This time around, Alvarez was ready to tell the world that he was back, and he was in his element. He certainly wasnt expecting anybody to come raining down on his parade.


ENTER LARA. But Erislandy Lara (19-1, 12KOs) had pre-meditated plans of his own and so he sauntered over to the stage, and stole the show. He bluntly challenged “Canelo,” asking when they would be fighting.
In response, a flustered Alvarez could only mutter out to the crowd a muted “Does anybody want us to fight?” to which he could hear a few “uh-huhs.”

That rude intrusion percolated in Alvarez’ mind and he has publicly stated that this fight is going to be personal.” It practically sets the tone for today’s exciting duke-out.

ANALYSIS. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time figuring out these Cuban fighters. They are very good, skilled fighters and come from extensive amateur boxing backgrounds.

But because they are products of Cuba’s communist regime, boxing misanthropes are even skeptical about a whole host of factors, even questioning their declared dates of birth.

Ergo, until they step up to the plate and you strip away that flashy, smooth-boxing countenance, you never know how good they really are.
Take the case of Guillermo Rigondeaux. He took on Nonito Donaire with a pro record of just 11 wins, but managed to run away with the victory. Literally.

Or how about the much bally-hoed Yuriorkis Gamboa. Flashy fast and powerful. Quite chinny too.

Back in 2012, he was nearly knocked out cold by our very own Michael Farenas with a huge left hook, but managed to win via unanimous decision.

Last month, I thought he would prevail against Terence Crawford, and for the first few rounds, he certainly looked the part. But then Crawford made a few adjustments, and just like that, he defused Gamboa resulting in a stoppage win after 9 rounds.

The same could be said for Lara who is a bit of an enigma. He looked good against Paul Williams, and terrible against Alfredo Angulo.

He is a southpaw who boxes well behind a steady jab and a powerful left straight. He will probably match up well against Alvarez and will give him fits.

I really haven’t forgiven Alvarez for his tepid, uninspired performance against Mayweather, but I still think that if he brings the fight to Lara, he can stop the Cuban before the 10th round. However, f he decides to go cute on him and tries to outbox Lara jab for jab, combination for combination, Lara will school him.

But at the end of the day, Alvarez’s power will be the deciding factor. After seeing Lara almost get knocked out by Angulo-a one-dimensional brawler who does everything wrong, I don’t see how he can survive a sustained onslaught from Alvarez.

SALUDAR BEATS CUBAN. Cheers to amateur fighter Rey Saludar who beat Cuban boxer Jorge Vivas in the semi-final round of the ongoing President’s Cup in Kazakhstan.

Rey is an Asian Games flyweight champion and is the younger sibling of pro fighter Froilan “The Sniper” Saludar who has a record of 19-1, 12KOs
LAST ROUNDS. Are on Dr. Nimfa G. Tero and my buddy, Atty. Kenneth Yap who are celebrating their birthdays this week. Cheers!



Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 13, 2014.


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