Erislandy Lara has two losses on his professional record. On my private scorecards he is undefeated. Like almost everybody but the three blind mice who judged the fight, I had Lara defeating Paul Williams decisively in July 2011. Instead he was handed a majority decision loss.
I also had Lara edging Canelo Alvarez 115-113 in July 2014, when he went down by split decision. In that case, I am not entirely sympathetic to Lara. His completely refused to engage offensively in long parts of that fight. It lost him a lot of fans and ultimately the fight.
Like many of his Cuban countrymen, Lara fights at a level of technical expertise that is often lost on the casual fan, who is mostly just interested in watching guys punch each other. But it’s hard to argue against ranking him at the top of the 154-pound division, especially now that Alvarez has moved to middleweight.
At this point I would still rank Jarrett Hurd third at super middleweight, in back of Jermell Charlo. But he also looks like he could be a potential superstar. He will be without a doubt the toughest opponent Lara has faced since at least Canelo, if not ever.
He comes into this fight one of the hottest athletes in the sport. In November 2016, he knocked out Ionut Dan Ion, a solid gatekeeper. In February 2017 he knocked out Tony Harrison, a hard-punching, physically imposing contender. Last October he simply over-powered Austin Trout, a long-time mainstay at the top of the division, forcing Trout to quit on his stool after Round 10. Trout has previously gone the distance with Lara and fought on extremely close terms with Canelo.
I have a very high level of respect for Lara and fighters like him. Skills, as they say, pay the bills. But Hurd has the appearance of a potential next-level talent. If he can get by the cagey Cuban, Hurd will be a long way towards putting himself in some of the biggest fights in the sport.