Erislandy Lara strutted his stuff Saturday night.
Long regarded by hardcore fight fans as a force to be reckoned with within the junior middleweight division, Lara had yet to provide a signature win for them to hang their hopes upon.
That’s changed now.
In what is surely his most impressive (and inspiring) win to date, Lara rose not once, but twice from the canvas to score a TKO victory over rugged slugger Alfredo Angulo in Round 10 of 12. It was impressive stuff from the former Cuban amateur champion, who proved he would be the most formidable opponent for the winner of September’s Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez superfight.
Angulo launched an attack to Lara’s body from the get-go, while Lara responded with laser-like straight lefts. After being floored in the fourth and ninth rounds compliments of left hooks by the relentless and incoming Mexican warrior, the 30-year-old Lara kept his cool and showed why he is the quintessential boxer/puncher.
It’s true. Lara is a top-notch boxer. It’s precisely why the supremely gifted southpaw has had so much trouble getting lucrative fights. In fact, even his own promotional company, Golden Boy, has been reluctant to put him in against their bevy of divisional stars.
After his latest win, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer went so far as to borderline disparage Lara’s drawing power. Speaking to BoxingScene’s Rick Reeno, Schaefer said Lara’s management team, led by Luis DeCubas Sr., should be “realistic” in their expectations of future fights.
But if you are going to come to me, whether it's DeCubas Sr. and whoever else, and talk realistic with me - then I am all for it. But don't come to me and say that he's one of the most exciting guys ever - because he is not. Lets not bullsh*t each other. That doesn't mean that he's not a good fighter, because I'm very proud of what Erislandy Lara showed. I think what really pissed me off more, is people from his team making these unrealistic moments. Lets call it what it is, he is a different kind of fighter which is okay. Who would want to see Erislandy Lara against Austin Trout? That wouldn't be an exciting fight. It might be an interesting fight on paper. I just want to do more fights where you know going in that it's a potential fight of the year candidate.
It’s disappointing rhetoric from the guy who’s supposed to be promoting him, but Lara should be used to it. After all, Lara and his team have been in a full-court press on Golden Boy’s cash cow, Canelo Alvarez, for at least a year now.
Luckily, Lara isn’t the type to get discouraged.
When I talked to him last November, he told me of his multiple attempts to defect from his impoverished home country of Cuba. Ultimately, he ended up languishing on a smugglers’ ship for more than 20 hours before finally making it out of the country.
Lara absolutely believes in himself and his purpose in life. It’s what kept him going back then and what drives him now, too.
Being on the sea, not knowing whether you are going to live or die—whether I’d make it or not. I’m grateful to God I was able to pass that stage of my life and now that is why I work so hard in this country to make the most out of my life. I believe that God put every human being on this planet for a reason.
The winner of Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez would be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing opponent than Erislandy Lara for the next gig. He’s a supremely talented boxer with the fortitude and toughness to give anyone in world a go at 154.
Let’s hope Golden Boy Promotions realizes it, too.