It is a shame that Erislandy Lara is left to this. This Friday night he defends his WBA belt against Yuri Foreman, a fight not worthy of his effort. The Cuban native is one of the most talented boxers in the sport. The WBA super welterweight champion has a professional record of 23-2-2, but he could just as easily be undefeated. His majority decision loss to Paul Williams in July 2011 was a straight travesty. I had him beating Canelo Alvarez in July 2014.
Alvarez is the top fighter at 154 pounds, based on that split-decision victory, but Lara is still No. 2, right behind him. I would not mind seeing him rematch Alvarez, even though the first fight was not exactly a thriller. The No. 3 fighter at 154 is Jermell Charlo, who is Lara’s sparring partner, so that is out as a possibility.
But there should be a more meaningful fight available than Yuri Foreman. Foreman is 34-2, but those two losses happened back in 2010, and to me they established that Foreman is not a top contender. Foreman was an undefeated Paper Champion when he dropped the WBA super welterweight belt to Miguel Cotto in June 2010, by Round 9 TKO, injuring his knee in the process. Eight months later, he got stopped in just six by Pawel Wolak.
That prompted a break of nearly two years. Wolak won four fights in 2013, but those all came against club-level opponents with mediocre records. He took off 2014 and then beat 9-9-1 Lenwood Dozier in December 2015. He beat 13-11-2 Jason Davis last June.
That’s not the kind of comeback trail that prepares a fighter to face a talent like Lara. The WBA should not be sanctioning this bout as a world title fight, even if he did hold a less valid version of their title over half a decade ago.
At this point, I think Lara needs to make a full move to middleweight to regain the kind of spotlight he deserves. If he went to 160 and posted a couple of impressive victories, he could put some legitimate pressure on Gennady Golovkin to give him a high-profile payday.