A defensive whiz and studious technician, Erislandy Lara fights like someone who possesses a doctorate in the sweet science. “The American Dream” one of the slickest, most elusive fighters in the sport, as hard for some of his opponents to make solid contact with as a gust of wind.
Born in Guantanamo, Cuba, Lara began contributing to the rich boxing legacy of his homeland when he was a teenager, becoming a three-time national amateur champion at 147 pounds from 2005-07, fighting 320 times and winning all but 10 of his bouts.
Lara would turn pro in 2008 after defecting from Cuba, relocating to Miami where he began to establish himself as one of boxing’s craftiest fighters.
“I describe myself as a technical specialist,” Lara said in a 2009 interview with Boxing247com. “I never, ever go looking for a KO. If one comes, it just comes. … I use my brain in a fight. I am patient in the ring and I use my skills.”
Erislandy Lara won his first 15 professional bouts, stopping eight of his opponents in the first round.
A TOUGH ROAD TOWARD THE TOP
After winning his first 15 bouts, Lara fought future 154-pound world champion Carlos Molina to a draw in March 2011, and battled former 147-pound champ Paul Williams next.
Despite seemingly controlling the action throughout the fight and tagging his opponent with his left hand at will, Lara nevertheless dropped a hotly debated majority decision to Williams in Atlantic City,New Jersey.
Afterward, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board indefinitely suspended all three judges due to concerns about the way they scored the fight.
BOUNCING BACK STRONG
Lara rebounded from the Williams loss in punishing fashion by hammering Ronald Hearns in a first-round TKO win in Biloxi, Mississippi, in April 2012.
After then defeating Freddy Hernandez, Lara fought Vanes Martirosyan to a draw in a bloody back-and-forth battle in Las Vegas in November 2012.
The fight was stopped in the ninth round after an accidental head butt opened a gash under Martirosyan’s left eye.
Undeterred, Lara next took on Alfredo Angulo in Carson, California, in June 2013, in a 154-pound title fight.
Lara used Angulo’s come-forward style against him via precision counterpunching, which led to a 10th-round TKO win for Lara after a hematoma blossomed around Angulo’s left eye.
FROM BIG PROMISE TO EVEN BIGGER STAGES
In an intense contrast of styles, Lara moved on from Angulo to face dynamic boxer Austin Trout, beating him in a 12-round unanimous decision in Brooklyn, New York, in December 2013.
The victory over Trout set the stage for the biggest fight of Lara’s career: a July 2014 pay-per-view nontitle clash in Las Vegas with Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
Though doubling Alvarez in terms of total punches landed while also landing those punches at a higher accuracy rate, Alvarez earned a split-decision victory in a close, competitive fight.
Lara had an easier time of it in his next fight, defending his world title with a unanimous decision over Ishe Smith in San Antonio in December 2014.
PITCHING A SHUTOUT IN CHICAGO
Two nights after throwing out the first pitch before the Astros-White Sox baseball game at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, Lara delivered more strikes in the Windy City when he faced Delvin Rodriguez at the UIC Pavilion on June 12, 2015, in a headlining bout on Spike TV.
Lara dominated from the opening bell, landing straight left hands with pinpoint precision and peppering Rodriguez with his jab.
The Cuban southpaw maintained his rhythm for 12 rounds, systematically picking apart Rodriguez with his speed and power.
Rodriguez had no answers against Lara, who scored a knockdown with a left-right combination late in the sixth round.
The dominance was reflected in the scorecards of the judges, all of whom awarded every round to Lara as he retained his 154-pound world title.
In November 2015, while in front of an eager crowd in Hialeah Park Racing and Casino, Erislandy Lara dispatched Jan Zaveck by a way of a TKO. Even though it was raining cats and dogs, Cubans were present to support their Cuban Champion. Lara’s next title defense was at the famous Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Nevada. He faced Vanes Martirsosyan 36-2-1 for the second time. The fight was dominated by the native of Guantanamo, Cuba. All the judges scored a win by unanimous decision after 12 rounds. Finally “The American Dream “ was able to avenge the previous results to show the boxing world who the top dog is in the 154 pound division.
Next stop was again at home, The Hialeah Park Racing and Casino.
Once again, Cubans were present to support Erislandy Lara . All tickets were sold out days before the bout.