Well, after watching last night's fight I have to say I thought everyone fought well, but not great. What I mean is that every generation awaits a fighter that stands out and not only beats opponents but dominates and annihilates them (if not, outskill & outwile them). Last night, Mares, Canelo, nor Lara "wowed" the audience. Instead, they trained hard and performed their duties in workmen like fashion, grinding away in their usual style (making subtle adjustments and improvements).
Mares had better defense and did thoroughly beat his opponent. However, was this the same Mares that that won the bantamweight tournament a few years back and dominated Agbeko and Ponce De Leon? I would say "no." The Mares I remember was offensive, confident, and a mix between a bull and boxer-puncher. He was fearless yet had the charisma and handspeed/athleticism to turn heads. He reminded me of a young Amir Khan of the lower weight classes: handsome, fast, fights anyone, appears to be polite and respectful in interviews, and has power and an exciting style. To add, he was developing a fanbase.
Then he hired Hunter, and he fought in this ugly, negative style last night. He fought to guard from that left hook, he fought to protect his chin, and he fought to not lose in his comeback fight even at times when it looked like his opponent was conceding victory to him and that he could have easily taken over the fight as opposed to logging in the rounds. Last night was a boring, safety first effort from a formerly offensive powerhouse and fearless boxer-puncher. He simply looked scared, shy, and timid.
This goes to show you how much of boxing is psychological.
Next, I was not impressed with Lara. He did what he always did but a little better. He moved his feet very well in the first half of the fight, defended well, and countered and even led effectively a few times with some good 1-2's. However, as the midway point approached closer Canelo's body shots were catching him and slowing his hands and feet significantly. Afterward, did he have any new adjustments, a second wind, or some kind of desperate SRL-like effort to win the fight back? Nope. He simply ran, kept doing what he did in the beginning but not as effectively. Good, but not great.
Also, Lara comes off as being fragile as Angulo and now Canelo proved. Trout couldn't exploit that because he's not a puncher.
Lastly, Canelo was just very good. Did he win? In my eyes by a little bit; maybe by a round or two. He definitely took over the second half of the fight, but did he do anything particularly well? I would say no. He made some slight technical adjustments from the Mayweather fight: pressured a bit more (not completely effectively but better), and learned to throw punches even when the target was not perfect in front of him and his feet were perfectly set. Canelo has slow feet and likes to bet very settled and comfortable before he throws (or to have his target in perfect range and to be comfortable with the rhythm). Last night we saw Canelo almost cutting off the ring (though a good pressure fighter is always inching forward and slipping to get inside of the jab which he did not do), and we saw him after 3 rounds begin to start throwing combinations and bull rushes on the ropes even though he wasn't completely comfortable. Just a workman like effort, but not great.
What defines our great fighters every generation? I would say they usually have 1-2 superior physical qualities (ie- defense, reflexes, handspeed, power, intelligence etc.) and an iron will and competitive side that does not allow them to lose (Pacquiao, Marquez, Floyd, Hopkins, Oscar, Mosley, Whitaker etc.). They also ALWAYS have a second wind in a fight that they're losing and they always have an adjustment or a desperation mode which allows them to pull victory out of nowhere.
I guess we are all waiting for the next great fighter: the next great welterweight, the next great American heavyweight, or the next great middleweight or great small man. We were waiting for the next great Filipino fighter until Donaire, Villoria, and Gesta failed us back to back after Pacquiao lost. I guess we even hoped Ruslan and Matthysse would capture our imagination and become the elite fighters we had always hoped them to be and an even small percentage with Danny Garcia. Our previous stars from the mid-2000s that were raised carefully such as Victor Ortiz, Amir Khan, Juanma Lopez, Yurokis Gamboa, and Andre Berto have all but burnt out. Who does that leave us with? Perhaps GGG, Mikey Garcia (I doubt it), and Terrence Crawford (doubt it even more) are all heirs to the throne. We can only wait and see.
I know Canelo is young (& hungry lion), but I don't think a fighter can just "become" great over night or even after a few years. We have to see the seeds earlier on. I believe Cotto is a "very good" fighter that has achieved greatness, but again, he had that underground following from earlier on or how Judah was a "great" talent with only a very good or decent career. Maybe Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman might be the heir to the throne. We shall see.