By Jeff Aranow: Erislandy Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs) had little problems last Saturday night in defending his WBA World junior middleweight title in beating Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision in their rematch at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the 33-year-old Lara’s fourth successful title defense of his WBA belt.
He’s interested in breaking the record of 11 successful title defenses. set by Gianfranco Rosi . The fact that Rosi said the record without making a huge mark in the sport gives you an indication that Lara may need to do a lot more than break Rosi’s record of title defenses if he wants to accomplish something in his career.
Lara is arguably a paper champion right now, and he needs to start getting some wins over the top fighters. Martirosyan was picked out from the bottom of the World Boxing Association’s rankings at No.15 WBC. That’s the whole problem for Lara. He’s been fighting a lot of fringe level fighters like Martirosyan, Jan Zaveck and Delvin Rodriguez recently and he’s not done anything.
It just looks like Lara is milking his WBA title against weak opponents rather than against competition that could give him a run for his money.
However, Lara has a long ways to go before he can equal and break that record. In the meantime, Lara would like to face IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Lara is willing to go up to middleweight to take the fight with the 34-year-old Golovkin, and he feels he has the ring intelligence to beat him. Lara also wants a rematch with Saul “Canelo” Avarez, who beat him by a 12 round split decision two years ago in 2014.
The fact that Lara isn’t pushing too hard for that rematch suggests that he doesn’t see it as too likely that he’ll get it. Canelo’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya even said after that fight that Lara will have to get in the back of the line in order for him to get a rematch with Canelo despite the fact that their fight was controversial.
De La Hoya didn’t seem to care that many boxing fans thought Lara won the fight. De La Hoya still told Lara to get in the back of the long line of fighters that want to fight Canelo. The not so subtle message that was conveyed by De La Hoya to Lara was ‘Don’t bother trying to get another fight against Canelo because it’s not going to happen.’
“I’m ready to fight anybody between welterweight and middleweight,” said Lara. “My first choice is to fight GGG because I feel he’s the toughest opponent and would be a fight that would solidify my legacy. My next choice would be to have a rematch with Canelo because we all know there’s unfinished business with lots of controversy. If either fight can’t be made, then my focus will be to put my name in the record books and defend my titles 12 times to break the record and unify them all at the same time.”
Lara beat Martirosyan by the scores of 116-111, 116-111 and 115-113. It was not an entertaining fight because Lara spent so much time moving, holding and throwing single pot shot punches rather than attacking Martirosyan and throwing combinations. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of boos coming from the crowd last Saturday night. You’d think there would have been a lot more booing because the fight was a really bad one to watch for the lack of action.
Lara is obviously going to need to be open to fighting at middleweight or in trying to pull welterweights up to 154 to fight him. It’s obviously not working for Lara in just fighting guys from the 154lb division because he’s been facing weaker opponents for the last two years since his loss to Canelo. If Lara can’t get a middleweight or a welterweight to face him, then he needs to try and get some of the super middleweights to fight him. If Lara can get one of the bigger names to fight him from the super middleweight division, it might help his career.
“I’m ready to step up and fight anyone in my division or if a big fight can be made at middleweight, I’m willing to be great,” said Lara.