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Erislandy Lara faces Ishe Smith this Friday, December 12th in San Antonio, Texas

laraBy Dan Ambrose: WBA World junior middleweight champion Erislandy Lara (19-2-2, 12 KOs) will be making his first defense of his title this Friday night on Showtime Championship Boxing against former IBF title holder Ishe Smith (26-6, 12 KOs) at the Illusions Theater, in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

Lara, 31, lost his last fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez by a highly contested and controversial 12 round split decision last July. Since Canelo made the decision to fight at a catch-weight of 155 pounds instead of at the normal weight for the junior middleweight division, Lara was able to keep his WBA title despite the loss. This Saturday’s fight will be different, however. The fight will be taking place at 154, and Lara’s title will be on the line.

Smith, #10 WBA, previously held the IBF 154 pound title from February 2013 to September 2013 when he was narrowly beaten by Carlos Molina by a 12 round split decision. It was a close fight but a clear loss for Smith. Recently, Smith rebounded from his loss to Molina to beat journeyman Ryan Davis by a 2nd round stoppage.

You can make an argument that Smith hasn’t done anything to deserve a title shot after his loss to Molina, but considering his name value and his promotional connections, it’s not all that surprising that he’s getting a title shot without him having to face a quality fighter beforehand.

Lara needs a win right now, as he can’t afford to take another loss by being too defensive. He’s going to need to show more offensive skills in this fight if he wants to get the victory. Lara easily could have cemented the win over Canelo last July if he had stood his ground a little more, and let his hands go. But unfortunately for Lara, he fought too defensively and stayed on the move for a little too long in the fight. I still felt he did enough to win, but two of the judges felt differently about the fight.

Smith has decent power, and he’s not afraid to mix it up. For Lara to beat him, he’s going to need to bring his A-game and show some of the offensive skills that he used to beat Alfredo Angulo and Austin Trout.

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