Back on July 9, 2011, Cuban former amateur world champion Erislandy Lara fought Paul Williams in Atlantic City.
Lara proceeded to beat Paul Williams from pillar to post, round after round, landing huge straight left hands at will. From ringside I had it scored nine rounds to three for Lara. Leaving aside the shock of how the fans were reacting to seeing Williams be dominated, it was the press section leaving their seats throughout the fight in awe to stand and watch that really impressed me.
Nobody could believe just how slick and ferocious Lara was fighting given the disparity in size and reputation. Williams took survived a handful of moments where it seemed necessary to stop the fight lest he receive serious injury from all the punishment he was enduring. Yet it continued.
Cuban fighters have always endured a great deal of criticism once they enter the professional ranks. Some of it fair (their style is not fan friendly), some of it callus (losing your family possibly forever and finding difficulty adjusting to never being able to go home is not so snugly summed up in being "undisciplined").
The island of 11 million people from a third world country is a factory for boxing champions and in amateur competition nobody has been able to touch them. Where the criticism is grossly unfair and most likely sour grapes is when Cuban fighters are criticized for being much older amateur fighters than their competitors and gaining an unfair advantage.
While it's true that Cuban fighters, by Cuban law, can never turn professional and thus stay on as amateurs, it's not as if all the Olympic champions from Cuba weren't winning medals at 18, 19 or 20 years old. The greatest Cuban fighters of the modern era––Teofilo Stevenson, Felix Savon, Hector Vinent, and Guillermo Rigondeaux––all won their first Olympic gold medal their first time out. Then they won their second. In Savon and Stevenson's case, their third. And while these fighters did it, they knocked out plenty of fighters who never were knocked out as pros (David Tua couldn't last a round against Savon).
Erislandy Lara attempted to defect from Cuba back in 2007 with Guillermo Rigondeax in search of a better life. They were caught in Brazil and sent back to their country in disgrace. Both legendary Cuban fighter's careers were ended by the Cuban government and they were branded as traitors.
In 2008, Lara succeeded in escaping and turned professional. Lara notched 15-straight wins leading up to Williams and, if victorious, had an opportunity to take on any fighter in the division and make some serious money for the first time in his career.
The verdict of the Williams fight was so egregiously bad (116-114, 115-114, 114-114), all judges were subsequently suspended indefinitely.
Lara's victory was so dominant it's taken him all this time since to even have anyone be willing to face him. His next fight is scheduled against Tommy Hearns' son, Ronald, in February of this year.