By Rajeev Lewis
His talent is undeniable, but what can Erislandy Lara do to regain the attention of the boxing world?
Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara was once hailed as the most dangerous fighter in the 154lb division, with some even calling for Floyd Mayweather to face him. Similar to his countryman Guillermo Rigondeaux, he is a defensive master who has exhibited highly intelligent footwork and sharp, accurate punches. His only two losses, to Paul Williams and Canelo Alvarez, were both highly disputed. The former is generally considered a robbery.
However, where has Lara been since he fought Canelo in the biggest fight of his career? While he might have deserved the decision, it can be argued he gave up too many rounds focusing on movement instead of punching. No matter. He raised his profile and showed his skill (in a fight many assumed Canelo would never take), and seemed poised to claim the throne at 154, with Canelo and Mayweather leaving the weight class and retiring respectively.
So, why is Lara fighting the highly unknown and unheralded Terrell Gausha this weekend? Why did he face the practically retired Yuri Foreman at the start of this year, one of the most lopsided matchups of recent memory? In fact, only two of Lara’s six opponents since the Canelo loss could be argued as top ten or top 15 Junior Middleweights (Ishe Smith and Vanes Martirosyan), with neither man expected to offer significant challenge. Perhaps his management is struggling to get him any fights of note, possibly due to his established reputation as a “boring” fighter, but Lara’s incredibly potential seems to be going largely unrealized. The PBC roster presents the opportunity for many intriguing matchups that Lara simply hasn’t been able to get, while stablemates such as the Charlo twins have been able to pick up world titles and challenge themselves in that weight class.
The last time Lara was involved in a 6-man 154lb showdown, he was the only one not considered to be taking a risk with his choice of opponent in Vanes. In this Saturday’s iteration of the same 6-man concept, while the others are facing possibly career-defining opponents, he is once again boxing an out-of-place, unproven fighter. Lara has become a US citizen, earned plenty of money, and given us some good fights. He now needs to blow out his opponent and set the stage for another high profile contest if he wants to show us how far his American dream really goes.
If you like Sunday Puncher, you can check out more recent articles, subscribe to our boxing calendar, subscribe to our podcast, follow us on Twitter, follow us on Instagram, and follow us on Facebook.