Erislandy Lara would be on any list of the best fighters who nobody seems to talk about. He is a tough opponent to beat and even if you beat him, you are not likely to look good doing it. Guys like that have a hard time making fights.
Lara was an amateur world champion for his native Cuba. But in 2007 he escaped Castro’s Communist regime on a speedboat to Mexico. In 2008 he made his professional debut.
Lara burst onto the international scene in July 2011, when lost a majority decision to Paul Williams. It is one of the worst decisions of this decade–Lara should have won. Williams was coming off a stunning KO loss to Sergio Martinez, but was still regarded as a pound-for-pound talent.
In December 2013, Lara beat Austin Trout in decisive fashion. It made him one of the two top fighters in the world at 154 pounds. The other was Saul Alvarez. They fought in July 2014, with Alvarez winning via split decision.
I thought Lara should have won that fight, as well. By my scorecards, his record should be 26-0-2, not 24-2-2. Still, that Alvarez fight showed why Lara struggles to gain widespread affection with the fans. He was far too inactive for entire portions of the fight, trying to ride a bicycle to victory. Even though I had him winning, I don’t view it as a robbery. And Lara has only himself to blame for that loss, and what it did to his reputation as a fighter.
He has also looked less than spectacular at times–in his draws with Carlos Molina and Vanes Martiroysan and even in victory over Alfredo Angulo. He has all the tools needed to beat anybody in the world at 154 or 160 pounds. But he doesn’t always seem to pack them all in his tool box.
Saturday night in Brooklyn, he will be part of the big, super welterweight triple header. His opponent will be 20-0 Terrell Gaushau. Gaushau was a member of the 2012 Olympic team but has fought nobody of note as a professional. A number of Gaushau’s Olympic teammates are now near the top of their divisions. Gaushau has yet to face anything like a contender.
The fact that he is now being jumped up to fight one of the world’s trickiest competitors tells a lot about how he is viewed by promoters–he’s a sacrifical lamb here in a stay-busy fight for an elite talent. This should be an easy night for Lara. Let’s hope he gets a tough outing in the near future.