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Alvarez and Lara face off in intriguing matchup

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Could Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who fights Erislandy Lara this Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV, actually be conducting his training camp like a full-fledged diva?

According to a story that appeared in Livefight.com, the answer is a resounding yes.

An unnamed camp insider was quoted as saying, “It’s like Alvarez isn’t even in full training right now. He’s picking and choosing when to train, he’s sending sparring partners home…you can’t even approach him. He’s like a child of 16, not a 23-year-old man.”

Alvarez, of course, raved about his training in interviews on media day.

“I’ve had a great training camp here in San Diego and I’m ready to go,” said Alvarez.

“I’ve worked very hard in this one.”

Not many boxers have ever admitted prior to a bout that their preparations had been, shall we say, slipshod.

If true, the description of the goings on at the Alvarez camp are a surprise. Alvarez can’t afford to lose to Lara. His defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather last year was expected by most everyone. But a loss to Lara would severely impact his career.

Many of his naysayer’s would croak, “Told ya the kid wasn’t that good. He’s been protected his entire career.”

Alvarez (43-1, 31 KOS) may have been protected most of his career, but not this time.

Lara (19-1, 12 KOs) is the real deal--a talented southpaw who combines craft, skill, defense and savvy. Oh, and he punches pretty hard too.

But he’s also shown a tendency to be inconsistent. Lara has one loss on his record, and that one, to Paul Williams three years ago, was a joke. Lara clipped Williams' chin over and over with lead left hands--so many that the HBO broadcasting crew was openly talking about the fight being stopped.

Only one problem. Williams won the match by decision. In 2013, Lara, 31, was dumped twice and lucky to escape with a victory over heavy-handed Alfredo Angulo. His stock went back up six months later when he defeated contender Austin Trout, who gave Alvarez a pretty tough go, with ease.

Lara was disdainful of Alvarez during his own media day interviews two weeks ago.

“The fact is he’s a very insecure fighter who knows he’s going to lose. For him to say these things is a bad sign for him. He’s lost and confused.”

Alvarez is criticized so often that it’s easy to forget that he’s still only 23 years old. His schooling by Mayweather notwithstanding, Alvarez has some subtle skills of his own. He fights well on the inside. His jab is hard while his left look, Lara’s weakness, is heavy. His right can cause damage.

Though beaten to the punch repeatably by Mayweather, he showed a steely determination and never-say-die attitude. Alvarez looked sharp in his return to the ring last March against the much slower Angulo. His defense, never a strength, looked tighter.

He’s also pretty tired of Lara’s flappy mouth.

“He’s a good fighter but he talks a lot. He’s offended me,” said Alvarez. “I’m going to have an answer for everything he has said. I’m going to shut him up once and for all.”

The edge here goes to Alvarez purely on will and overall strength. The last few rounds could determine the winner.

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