Boxing has had a great year in 2017. It’s been a year of the best fighting the best. Seemingly every top pound for pound fighter had a mega fight or two in 2017. It was a trend that ran across seemingly all weight classes. Except for one, 154-pound kingpin and WBA strap holder Erislandy Lara. Lara has been the most avoided man in boxing for years now. It’s become a disturbing trend, Lara can’t land a mega fight that propels him into another stratosphere, a stratosphere in which all honesty he already deserves to be in. Lara will have fought twice in 2017 when its all said and done. Back in January, he destroyed Yuri Foreman and he has a scheduled date with Terrell Gausha. Gusha is a talented unbeaten fighter (20-0) who is already 30 years old with limited punching power and no major names on his resume. His best wins are over gatekeeper Norberto Gonzalez and Orlando Lora. The Cleveland Native is a talented Jr. Middle who was a 2012 Olympian. He will likely be outclassed on October 14th in the Barclays Center by Lara.
Erislandy Lara came up on the short side of two of the worst decisions of the past decade. Following his “loss” to Paul Williams, the New Jersey Commission did suspend all three judges indefinitely pending additional training. This scored #1 on my list of 20 worst decisions of the lat of the last 20 years also on that list (#13) was his “loss” to Canelo Alvarez. A fight Lara won about 8-9 rounds and bordered on outclassing Alvarez. A fight which Canelo’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya compared to his loss to Tito Trinidad, a decision he protested and claimed he won and everyone else thought he did too. So it certainly seems as a passive way as saying he thought Lara won too because Oscar certainly thought he beat Tito, which almost all observers believe he did.
Since outclassing and taking Canelo to boxing school Lara has not been able to cash in on that or land a major fight. He has ran off victories over basically every fighter at his weight class that operates just below that top-notch level including fighters like Trout, Ishe Smith, Angulo, Delvin Rodriguez, and Vanes Martirosyan, good fighters and a good resume but no one is putting him on top of any P4P lists. And he isn’t getting mega fights. He never gets called out, Canelo obviously avoided a rematch, Sergio avoided him when he had his middleweight run. Cotto never called him out, Andrade, who Lara destroyed in the ametures, had no interest in fighting him and Liam Smith would rather just keep beating up on Liam Williams then dare step up and take on Lara. A big Welterweight like Errol Spence who is complaining he cant get a fight could easily make one with Lara, they wouldn’t even have to leave Texas. You could sell this as a Houston VS Dallas shootout. But there is no chance Spence would fight Lara. Why? Because you can’t beat him.
Lara’s only two losses are the Williams and Canelo fights, so in reality, he is an unbeaten fighter. The thing about Lara is that he is a southpaw who is above average at everything. There’s no weakness. He has above average hand speed, foot speed, footwork, power, he’s a good counter puncher and body puncher. His ring generalship and boxing ability is second to none at this time. His rich Cuban amateur pedigree combined with the tutelage of Ronnie Shields has him at such a high level will no one will fight him or even consider fighting him. His only two losses are robberies against top-notch pound for pound top 10 fighters in their primes. So in realaity Lara has wins over two top 10 pound for pound guys and a litany of really good fighters mentioned earlier. When examined through that lens his career and pound for ound standing looks a lot different.
Think of how high his P4P ranking would be if he got the decisions he truly deserved over a prime Paul Williams and a prime Canelo Alvarez, who would rightfully be in the top 3-4 of everyone’s P4P list. That’s the level in which Lara operates. Is there anyone from 147-160 that will challenge themselves and try to take out Lara? Can the “American Dream” cash in on the American meritocracy and get a mega fight?