Three of the four major Light Middleweight championship belts will be available tonight in Las Vegas.
Jermell Charlo bids to become the WBC belt holder with victory over John Jackson, while twin brother Jermall Charlo aims to defend his IBF strap in his toughest fight to date against the world class Austin Trout.
Topping the bill will be a rematch of a contest that fell very short of inspiring the audience, as Erislandy Lara 22-2-2(13KO’s) looks to continue his reign as WBA champion against Vanes Martirosyan 36-2-1(21KO’s).
For the 30-year old Martirosyan, this seems already like a last chance saloon at world level.
Although his previous opposition and the fact he was once considered a future world champion looks good on a fighters’ record on the fringes of world class, the Armenian is not as pretty to fight in the ring as he is on paper.
Often in ugly, albeit competitive fights, Martirosyan is part of the ‘who needs him’ club.
For Lara he finds himself in the same situation. The Cuban has been involved in some fistic battles, and he has dazzled at times with his hand speed and counter punching ability.
He has taken on some of the best fighters in and around his division, but his awkward long-range style makes him both hard to look good against and more importantly hard to beat.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez came very close to his second defeat when he narrowly outpointed Lara, some felt that the decision was the wrong one.
Martirosyan managed a technical draw in the last meeting between the pair, a contest most expected Lara to dominate.
(A quick look back at their first encounter – via Showtime):
The contest ended in the 9th after a clash of heads and the two fighters could not be separated on the cards.
Vanes has since lost a split decision to well respected and unbeaten former WBO ruler, Demetrius Andrade and came up short against Jermell Charlo (L UD 10).
Vanes has however commanded some respectable wins, including a unanimous decision win over Willie Nelson, but he failed to impress last time out against Ishe Smith (MD 10).
Lara has proven in the past that he can generate some pop in his punches, but his style often leaves him in close fights that has left him bitterly disappointed with the outcome.
Lara was unfortunate not to pick up a career best win at the time over Paul Williams (L MD 12) and obviously the same fate struck him in his most recent high profile bout with Alvarez (L SD 12).
But Lara has some very credible wins to prove he can produce the goods at the highest level. Lara came through a war with Alfredo Angulo (TKO 10) to force a late stoppage while also dropping Austin Trout (UD 12) on the way to a points victory.
Lara has also picked up wins over Ishe Smith (UD 12), Delvin Rodriguez (UD 12) and most recently Jan Zaveck (TKO 3).
We will once again wait in hope of Lara to catch fire and finally elevate his game to the next level.
The 33-year old generates enough power to at least come close to stopping a durable challenger, but it is likely that he will once again cruise to a points victory.
Martirosyan may hit the canvas early as Lara comes out full beam, but he will slowly make his way back into the contest, making it more competitive than it really should be.
Still, Lara’s better shot selection will create the more eye catching blows, handing him the win by a hefty margin.
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