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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / If I Were a Boxing Matchmaker: Erislandy Lara

If I Were a Boxing Matchmaker: Erislandy Lara

Where should he go next?
Publish Date: 07/07/2019
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Howdy folks. Today I’d like to discuss some potential matchups for one of the more undervalued fighters out there.

Erislandy Lara 25-3-3 (14 KOs)

Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara is one of the most underrated fighters of this decade. This Cuban defector came to America to fulfill his dream as a professional boxer and has done so. He is a protégé of the Cuban boxing school and has succeeded at the elite levels using the skills he learned there.

Lara is an amazing boxer, who moves very well, has a great sense of range and a high ring IQ He is fairly basic in his punches, using primarily a solid jab and a straight left down the pipe. However, he is very good at using those basic skills to his advantage and winning while doing so. This man has fought some of the toughest opposition in his weight class and continues to do so to this day, even at the age of 36. Lara has been in the ring with Canelo Alvarez, Paul Williams, Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Terrell Gausha, Jan Zaveck, Brian Castano, Jarrett Hurd and Vanes Martirosyan twice. Very good competition and has arguably beat them all.

His bout against Canelo could have gone either way. He definitely should have won the Paul Williams fight, go watch for yourselves. The fight against Hurd was very close and came down to that knockdown in the final round. The Castano bout was also very close. I always appreciate and enjoy watching Erislandy Lara box, regardless of people stating that his style is boring.

Let’s see if we can put together some matchups for him to end his career on a good note and hope that one day he is being considered for a call to the hall, or at least possibly one of the best fighters of the decade.

#1 Matchup: Tony Harrison 28-2 (21 KOs)

Considering Tony Harrison is the WBC titleholder and is legitimately a top-10 boxer at super welterweight, this match would make a ton of sense to go for. Tony Harrison is a good boxer who stays at range on the outside boxing, using his jab to setup his straight right. Harrison has decent punching power, but I believe this would be Lara’s best option to try and regain a title and solidify a top spot as one of the best in this weight class.

Even at Lara’s age I think he is a better overall boxer than Harrison. The risk for reward is good for Mister Lara because his southpaw style would pose problems for Tony. This would not be a huge sell as far as numbers are concerned but could do well enough in a place near Detroit Michigan, Harrison’s hometown.

#2 Matchup: Julian Williams 27-1-1 (16 KOs)

This is another great option for Erislandy Lara. Julian Williams is currently the WBA and IBF trinket-holder and a legitimate top-5 super welterweight. J-Rock is a good fighter with a well-rounded style. He has a good jab and mixes up his punches well. He is not what most would consider to be an elite talent, but still a very good overall competitor.

His win against Jarrett Hurd was about as good of a performance as he can accomplish. The problem is that Erislandy Lara is not Jarrett Hurd. This bout against Lara would be a completely different story, as Lara moves and counters well. He doesn’t stand in one spot and eat punches, he avoids them. This is a good matchup and the timing is about perfect to go for the gusto on this one.

Just as I said about the Tony Harrison bout, this is not a huge sell just anywhere. It would probably be better suited to take place in Philadelphia to build a bigger fan base, where Williams is from. Unfortunately, Lara is not the biggest star attraction in the world.

#3 Matchup: Jermell Charlo 32-1 (16 KOs)

Jermell Charlo is a very good fighter, yet still has some question marks behind him. Does he really have the talent to become the next real champion at 154 pounds? It’s tough to call. He is certainly a skilled boxer who has a good variety of punches in his arsenal. He displays knockout power on occasions, but sometimes cruises to underwhelming decisions. He lost a close decision to Tony Harrison in his last bout, but I’m sure they will get a rematch setup at some point after Harrison recovers from injury. If Charlo won the rematch before Lara gets a chance at Harrison, then I would want Lara to go after Charlo instead of Harrison. The good thing for Lara is that most of these competitors at the top of the division are not big pressure fighters, or have devastating power, which serves in the favor of Lara, especially at his age. The pressure breaks down the old man quicker, but letting Lara box at his pace is to his advantage.

At this point these are both top-10 super welterweight contenders, possibly top-5, at least Lara is. This match would be perfect in Houston Texas, considering that is where Jermell Charlo is from and where Erislandy Lara resides.

#4 Matchup: Kell Brook 38-2 (26 KOs)

There are several reasons to make this matchup happen. These are two accomplished veterans who are on the downside of their respective careers. I don’t quite understand why Kell Brook has not been able to get a shot at one, or multiple fighters at the top. He is still a very good fighter and I believe that, just like Erislandy Lara, he is still able to compete with these other men. This division is not overly impressive. Kell Brook has a better resume than most of these other guys. Brook has fought Errol Spence, Gennady Golovkin and Shawn Porter, defeating 1 of 3. Kell Brook is probably even a bigger sell than most of them, especially when he fights in England.

Both are good boxers and it would make for a very good styles matchup. Regardless if there were no belts associated with this, it would be two high-level operators competing for spots to stay relevant in the championship conversations.

#5 Matchup: Jaime Munguia 33-0 (26 KOs)

I’m not that impressed with Jaime Munguia and never have been. Although I have put him on several boxer’s matchmaking lists, it is primarily due to the fact that he is being hyped to be the next star and it’s just not going to happen as far as talent alone is concerned. He can make for a lot of interesting brawls in the future, but I don’t see him adjusting his raw style to develop into something special. Quite simply put, I believe many of these fighters have a chance to beat him and take his hype train down a gear or two.

Lara certainly has a chance to defeat Munguia, because he is definitely the more skilled fighter. If guys like Dennis Hogan and Liam Smith can trouble Jaime, then I know Lara can do the same. Munguia doesn’t have the ring IQ to compete with Lara, but his massive body frame and brute force might be enough to do the trick if Lara can’t move his legs. That would be the biggest question for me.

Munguia currently holds the WBO trinket and is a legitimate top-10 super welterweight. If Lara fought all of these men on the list, that would mean that he would have been in the ring with 7 of the current 10 top-10 super welterweights in the world and all of the current belt-holders, according to all boxing ranking organizations. This would be best suited in a neutral area, a long ways away from Munguia’s home. The closest we could get would possibly be Texas. Lara resides in Houston, so maybe we could find a place near Houston, Dallas or Austin.

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