High Risk, Low Reward: The Erislandy Lara Story

There has always been something intriguing about the Cuban fighter.


Perhaps it is the desperate, Hollywood-esque manner in which many of the combatants enter into the States; typically involving a speedboat and treacherous weather. Yuriorkis Gamboa was so poor he had to sell his Olympic gold medal to finance his daughter’s first birthday.

Or maybe it is the highly disciplined nature of their training, which is aptly named “The Cuban Boxing School” (Not sure if they are fully accredited and offer graduate school programs) which consistently produces technically outstanding fighters. What ever the reason may be, Cuban fighters are very complex athletes.

Erislandy Lara is a world-class fighter. The idea that he is a boring fighter is just as misinformed as the people who express it.

If you do not enjoy a particular fighter’s style then the situation is just that, you just don’t enjoy his style. His amateur pedigree ranks near the top of any list as he has captured 3 medals, 2 of which are of the gold variety. His career up to this point can be interpreted in many different ways.

On the one hand he has a very good record of 22-2-2 and has shown his skill and toughness among the world’s best including a blowout win against the highly skilled Austin Trout and a very dramatic comeback win against the gritty Alfredo Angulo where he was knocked down for the first and second time of his career. Make no mistake about it, Lara was put down very explicitly by a “single” shot each time.

(Erislandy Lara – American Dream, hat tip to Somiomi):

Staying true to his Cuban lineage, Lara continued to intelligently box and use angles to end the fight in a gruesome TKO. After the Trout win Lara then set his sights on a fast rising star by the name of Canelo Alvarez. After his constant calling out, including the crashing of one of Alvarez’s post fight conferences, the fight was made.

The fight was an entertaining match. Early rounds belonged to Lara with Canelo mounting a serious body attack in the middle rounds. The last rounds were seen as split and Canelo ultimately earned the split decision.

While most of the world saw this fight as a tough win for Canelo, many fighters saw this as yet another reason to stay away from the Cuban.

Sure Canelo won, but he didn’t receive much credit for it. Mainly because despite his undeniable talent, Lara is largely unknown by the boxing public which leads me to my final thought. Fighting Erislandy Lara is a very difficult position to be in.

You are fighting a fighter with not only supreme confidence, but also the skills to beat you and at best make you look very bad in a victory over him. Moreover, it is an extremely difficult spot for Lara to be in as he is turning 33 this April and probably looking to secure his family’s future over the course of the next few years by getting multiple big fights to do so.

His tendency to make great fighters look basic is doing him absolutely no favors. Hopefully in 2016 more top caliber fighters will give him a shot. A guy can dream right?

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