Erislandy Lara is looking to break the longest winless slide of his career Saturday night
It’s been almost two years since the last time former WBA junior middleweight beltholder Erislandy Lara has won a fight. It’s probably the longest stretch of time the Cuban expatriate has ever gone in life between times he’s had his hand raised in victory. “The American Dream” is looking to end the 22-month, two-fight winless draught when he faces Ramon Alvarez at the Minneapolis Armory, Minneapolis, Minnesota, headlining the PBC on Fox show on Saturday (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
Lara, who is 36 and rated No. 3 by The Ring at 154-pounds, lost his title to Jarrett Hurd in the BWAA 2018 Fight of the Year. Earlier this year, he drew with Brian Castano.
“To be honest, I felt I won both of those fights, but I can’t do anything about bad judging,” Lara told The Ring through Mario Serrano. “The goal is to keep working hard in the gym and fight whoever they put in front of me.
“I feel I have a lot left to give this sport and you’ll see me go on a nice run to finalize my legacy in boxing.”
To make that prophecy come true, he’ll need to turn back the challenge of Canelo’s older brother, Ramon Alvarez.
“I’m very excited about this fight and my motivation is at an all-time high,” Lara explained. “I know Alvarez is going to be in great shape so I’m expecting this to be a very tough fight. I know for sure he’s never been in the ring with a fighter like me, who has many different styles.
“Obviously, he comes from a family of boxers, so he knows all the ins and outs of boxing. He can do a few things that are above average but there is nothing he does that I haven’t seen.”
Victory will place Lara (25-3-3, 14 knockouts) on the cusp of another big fight, though he isn’t singling out any particular rival.
“When I beat Ramon Alvarez, everyone is going to be expecting me to call out Canelo. I’m not chasing no one,” Lara said of Canelo. “If that fight happens in the future, I’ll make sure to not leave it in the hands of the judges. I know I won that fight, but he got the gift of a lifetime (referencing Canelo’s split-decision win over Lara in July 2014). I’ve moved on and now I’m focused on Ramon.”
In the build-up for Alvarez, Lara elected to leave long-time trainer Ronnie Shields to work with his countryman and former trainer Ismael Salas.
“I just felt I needed a change,” explained the southpaw. “I love Ronnie and he will always be my friend. Sometimes, fighters just need a change and working with Salas is nothing new. He was my trainer for the first 10 fights of my career.
“We are in Vegas now getting ready for Alvarez and everything is working out.”
Salas, who is known for his attention to detail as well as technical skills, is pleased to have hooked back up with Lara after close to a decade apart.
“Lara is an amazing fighter with an exceptional ring IQ,” said the well-regarded Salas. “Right now, we are just polishing up some of the little things, his footwork and punch angles to be exact. Training camp went great and he’ll be ready to go on fight night.”
Alvarez (28-7-3, 16 KOs) turned professional in 2008. The 33-year-old holds wins over Omar Chavez (UD 10), Vivian Harris (KO 7) and Jorge Paez Jr. (UD 10). He won his only fight of the year so far edging Argentinean Jose Carlos Paez by 10-round split decision in April.
Editor’s Note: Lara and Alvarez will contest the vacant WBA regular junior middleweight title which is unrecognized by The Ring. Julian Williams is the WBA 154-pound champion.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright
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