Erislandy Lara has a new title…
The 36-year-old Cuban professional boxer made quick work of Ramon Alvarez, knocking him out in the second round to claim a vacant secondary junior middleweight world title on Saturday in the Premier Boxing Champions main event at The Armory in Minneapolis.
In his first fight since parting ways with longtime trainer Ronnie Shieldsand reuniting with Ismael Salas, his original professional trainer, Lara made it look easy against heavy underdog Alvarez, the less accomplished older brother of middleweight world champion and boxing’s biggest star Canelo Alvarez.
“Thank you to Alvarez. He gave me the work I needed today. Having this title here on my shoulders feels great,” Lara said through an interpreter.
Lara had held a top tier 154-pound world title from 2014 until losing it by split decision to Jarrett Hurd in the 2018 ESPN fight of the year, and then fighting to a draw with Brian Castano for the secondary belt in March to drop to 0-1-1 in his previous two fights.
But he got back on track before a crowd of 2,896 against Alvarez, who was not eligible to win the belt.
While Lara comfortably made weight at 153.8 pounds at the weigh-in on Friday afternoon, Alvarez was dramatically over the 154-pound division limit at 158.6 pounds. By fight night, Alvarez had blown up to 177.4 pounds while Lara had only rehydrated to a more normal 169 pounds.
The extra size made no difference for the much slower and less skilled Alvarez, who appeared uninterested in the fight from the opening bell.
Lara (26-3-3, 15 KOs), a southpaw, easily won the opening round and then battered Alvarez in the second round. He drilled him with a pair of straight left hands, a right and another left that sent Alvarez flying between the third and fourth ropes and nearly out of the ring. Referee Mark Nelson properly ruled it a knockdown because the ropes held up Alvarez (28-8-3, 16 KOs), 33, of Mexico.
When the fight resumed, Houston’s Lara, a former Cuban national team star before defecting, continued to paste Alvarez with clean punches from both hands. He forced Alvarez into the ropes as he landed 14 unanswered punches, finishing him with a powerful right hand that forced Nelson to step in and stop the bout at 2 minutes, 3 seconds just as Alvarez’s corner was throwing in the towel.
“Once I had him against the ropes I knew I had this fight won and then I really didn’t want to give him another shot, a power punch, and maybe really hurt him,” Lara said of Alvarez, who dropped to 1-2 in his past three fights with both defeats coming by knockout.
Alvarez did not dispute the stoppage.
“I respect the referee’s decision,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “I’m going to keep working. It is what it is. I fell down, but I will get up again.”
Lara’s victory not only earned him another title belt, but it also gave him a measure of revenge on the Alvarez family. In 2014, Lara lost a highly competitive split decision to Canelo Alvarez in a non-title pay-per-view main event.
According to CompuBox statistics, the fight was also a landslide as Lara landed 33 of 96 punches (34%) while Alvarez landed only seven of 59 shots (12%).
With Alvarez nowhere near Lara’s class, Lara said he hoped to again fight a top opponent and had two guys in mind.
“I’ll fight anybody in the division, but I do want to fight the best boxers out there, being in the higher divisions or lower divisions and I’m talking about [welterweight titlist] Errol Spence Jr. or Canelo Alvarez,” Lara said.
“Me and Canelo have our own little rivalry. I want to fight him in a rematch. His brother had nothing to do with that. They’re a great team and I wish them nothing but good things in the future. Canelo and me have a rivalry to finish.”
“I really trained for this fight, but maybe at 39, I’m nearing the end of my career,” Bisbal said. “I was out of gas by the end of the fourth round, so my corner stopped the fight. They said I looked too tired to fight more. I’ll talk to my team and see what’s next in my career.”