Erislandy Lara: ‘When I fight action fighters, I make good, entertaining fights’
Erislandy Lara was widely panned for his wide points victory over Terrell Gausha in October, and the criticism was the usual vitriol reserved for the Cuban.
Boring, they said. Mismatch, they cried.
Why, they wondered, was Lara content to go 12 rounds with a fighter he seemingly could finish at any time?
Lara brushed it all off.
“I’m not worried about what the critics are saying, I pushed the fight forward, I was trying to make the action in that fight. Gausha was not willing to exchange,” Lara, 34, told RingTV.com.
“These guys gotta fight me. When I fight action fighters, I make good entertaining fights like I did with Paul Williams and (Alfredo) Angulo. These young guys have to bring that out, and if not, I’ll cruise to a decision.”
Indeed, Lara is happy to win by any means necessary. And he’s not wrong. The southpaw technician’s 2013 battle with Angulo was indeed thrilling. Angulo applied constant pressure, dropped Lara in Rounds 4 and 9, but Lara rallied.
He badly damaged the Mexican’s eye with a bundle of overhand lefts and scored the 10th-round stoppage.
Even Lara’s 2014 defeat to Canelo Alvarez was entertaining, a fight he lost via controversial decision.
Lara, THE RING’s No. 1 junior middleweight, wants to share the ring with fellow titleholders Jermell Charlo and Jarrett Hurd in 2018, younger men who can surely bring the fight out of him.
“I’m happy the young guys (want to fight me), you have to have that attitude, you have to beat the best to be the best,” Lara said. “I love that style matchup (with Hurd), and hopefully he puts the pressure on like Angulo and I can leave his face the same way when the fight is over.”
And while Lara’s fights may not be aesthetically pleasing to those fans seeking action affairs, it’s not going to hurt his status with Showtime. His win over Gausha headlined an 154-pound title tripleheader, and he’ll be back on the network before long.
“Lara is one of the most skilled fighters in boxing today,” said Showtime Sports’ Stephen Espinoza, whose network aired Lara’s fight with Canelo on pay-per-view. “He deserves no less respect than (Vasyl) Lomachenko and (Guillermo) Rigondeaux.
“When you’re matching up the best fighters in a division, looking to determine who the best is, you don’t always get a slugfest or a brawl. There’s so much at stake in these fights, sometimes a high-level tactical fight is the result. Lara has earned his spot and deserves the opportunity to unify the division.”
Lara (25-2-2, 14 knockouts) isn’t about to change — or apologize — for his style, and why would he? He’s the top dog in one of boxing’s best weight classes, he’s routinely raking in seven-figure paydays, and he’s lined up to headline more premium cable shows in the coming years.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger