Erislandy Lara says he’ll stay undefeated versus Ishe Smith
If you were to ask him, junior middleweight Erislandy Lara would probably tell you that he truly feels as if he is an undefeated fighter.
A 31-year-old Cuban southpaw, Lara believes that he won seven of 12 rounds against Canelo Alvarez, who was awarded a split decision victory over Lara in July.
Most would contend that Lara was not the majority decision loser to former two-time welterweight titleholder Paul Williams in July 2011 in Atlantic City, a fight many ringsiders and boxing insiders thought Lara had won.
But Lara also has argued that he was the winner of close bouts against former IBF titleholder Carlos Molina and Vanes Martirosyan, fights that ended as draws in March 2011, and, November of 2012.
Yet as he enters Friday’s clash with ex-beltholder Ishe Smith (26-6, 12 knockouts) at the Illusions Theater in San Antonio, Texas, Lara does so with a record of 19-2-2 that includes 12 knockouts.
Lara also says that he has few, if any, regrets.
“Those fights are in the past. I think everybody who’s lost a fight gets depressed. The fans, everyone saw that I won a few of them. Everyone knows it,” said Lara, during a conference call last week.
“And right now, I’m not worried about that. That’s the past. Now, I have to look to the future and know that I got Ishe Smith in front of me. So, that’s the one I’m worried about and that’s where our main focus is at.”
Lara was 4-0-1 with two knockouts between the losses to Williams and Alvarez.
After facing Williams, Lara stopped Ronald Hearns in 94 seconds in April 2012, unanimously decisioned fringe contenter Freddy Hernandez in June 2012, drew with Martirosyan, and scored signature wins over rugged Alfredo Angulo and fellow left hander Austin Trout.
Lara had to rise from knockdowns in the fourth and ninth rounds of to his score a 10th-round stoppage over Angulo in June 2013, then dropped Trout in the 11th round of his unanimous decision victory in December 2013, setting up the fight with Alvarez.
After getting off to a good start against Alvarez, Lara slowed during the middle rounds, appearing to be bothered by his rival’s body attack.
Two judges awarded the fight to Alvarez, by scores of 115-113 and 117-111, with the third scoring it 115-113 for Lara, who, nevertheless, insists that he did enough to win.
“I’m not one of those guys that says, ‘If I would have done this’ or ‘If I would have done that.’ I did what I did. I won the fight. I feel like I dominated him in the rounds that I did. I thought I won the fight. And in boxing if you win, you win,” said Lara.
“There’s no reason, because you’re not the star, you have to win 10 rounds to two. If you win seven rounds, you win eight rounds, you win the fight. There’s no question, I think and a lot of other people feel as well that I won over seven rounds.”
Smith, 36, has gone 2-1 over the course of his past three fights, having dethroned Cornelius Bundrage as IBF beltholder by majority decision in February 2013 but lost the title by split decision to Carlos Molina in September of that year. Molina lost the belt to Bundrage by unanimous decision on Oct. 11.
Lara had been set to face Smith in May before opting out to fight Alvarez.
“Every fight is important, it doesn’t matter how you win,” said Lara, regarding the importance of defeating Smith. “Winning is winning, any which way you do it. The main focus is to go out there and win this fight and stay undefeated.”