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Erislandy Lara vs. Ramón ‘Inocente’ Álvarez on Aug.31 for interim WBA 154 lb title

Image: Erislandy Lara vs. Ramón 'Inocente' Álvarez on Aug.31 for interim WBA 154 lb title

By Peter Axline: Erislandy Lara and Ramon ‘Inocente’ Alvarez will be facing each other next month for the interim WBA junior middleweight title on August 31 at the Minneapolis Armory, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

While Lara (25-3-3, 14 KOs) fight for the interim WBA 154 pound title, Michael Soro (33-2-1, 22 KOs) will be fighting unbeaten #7 WBA Magomed Kurbanov (17-0, 11 KOs) for the vacant World Boxing Association junior middleweight title. The WBA is allowing these two fights to take place in order to have the winners battle it out for the WBA belt.

Brian Carlos Castano left WBA 154 lb title vacant

The reason for the Lara-Alvarez and Soro-Kurbanov fights is due to the previous WBA ‘regular’ junior middleweight champion Brian Carlos Castaño leaving the 154 pound title vacant after failing to come to an agreement in the negotiations for a title defense against Michel Soro for a fight that would have taken place on July 20. 

Lara-Alvarez and Soro-Kurbanov winners must face each other for WBA 154 lb title

The WBA has decided that the winner of the Lara vs Alvarez and Soto vs. Kurbanov fights must battle each other for the World Boxing Association junior middleweight title. Rather than just designating one fight to determine the new champion, the WBA is having two separate fights take place to decide on the new WBA ‘regular’ 154 pound champion.

Lara, 36, hasn’t won a fight in close to two years since his win over Terrell Gausha in October 2017. Erislandy lost his WBA Super World 154 pound title to Jarrett Hurd by a 12 round split decision  in a war in April of last year. Lara then took 11 months off before returning to the ring last March in fighting the tough as nails Brian Carlos Castano to a 12 round split draw in Brooklyn, New York.

Ramon Alvarez an odd choice to be fighting Erislandy Lara for interim WBA 154 lb title

Alvarez (28-7-3, 16 KOs) is one of the brothers of Mexican superstar Saul Canelo Alvarez. Ramon is a good fighter, but he’s not on the same level as Canelo in terms of ablity. Ramon is not that type of incredible talent. Alvarez lost recently to former WBA lightweight champion Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios by a ninth round knockout last November. Alvarez rebounded from that loss to defeat journeyman Jose Carlos Paz (23-9-1, 13 KOs) by a 10 round split decision earlier this year in April. Paz had previously been stopped in one round by Anthony Fowler, three rounds by Jaime Munguia and five rounds by Castano. The fact that Alvarez barely beat Paz shows what kind of limited fighter he is.

Lara will be huge favorite over Alvarez

Given ‘Inocente’ Alvarez’s recent knockout losses to Brandon Rios and Omar Chavez, it’s unlikely that he’ll last long inside the ring with Lara on August 31. Alvarez, 32, is a decent second tier fighter, but he’s not world class, and he never been considered a tier level guy. Alvarez’s best career wins have come against these fighters: Johnny Navarette, Jorge Paez Jr., Matthew Strode, Ben Tackie, Vivian Harris, and Omar Chavez. Although Tackie and Harris were at one time top level fighters in their prime, they were well over-the-hill by the time Alvarez fought them.

Alvarez will lucky if he makes it beyond the third round against Lara in this fight. That’s how much of a mismatch this fight is, because Lara has clearly slipped a couple of notches in the last two years.  Lara’s war with Jarrett Hurd took a lot out of him a year ago. Further, the Cuban star didn’t look like the same fighter in his last fight against Castano last March.

Granted, Castano would have given Lara problems even before his fight with Hurd last year, but he wouldn’t likely done as well as he did against a still prime Lara. Ramon Alvarez will be way over his head when he gets inside the ring with Lara.

The WBA needs to reduce the amount of champions they have

With the Lara-Alvarez & Soro-Kurbanov winners facing each other to determine the WBA ‘regular’ junior middleweight champion, this would be a good time for the sanctioning to consider reducing the amount of champions. The WBA has two championship belts at 154. They call the upper level champion the ‘WBA Super World champ”, and the lower level belt the ‘WBA World’ champ. Currently, Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams holds the WBA Super World title.

The WBA should order the winner of these 2 fights to face each other in order to determine one champion at 154 with their company. However, the WBA likely won’t make that move, because they can make more money by having two champions rather than one.

Jose Ramirez faces Maurice Hooker on July 27

WBC light welterweight champion Jose Carlos Ramirez (24-0, 16 KOs) will be fighting WBO 140 pound champion Maurice Hooker (26-0-3, 17 KOs) in a unification fight this month on July 27 at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas. The fight will be shown live on DAZN

This is easily the toughest contest for Ramirez, 26, since he won the vacant World Boxing Council light welterweight title a year ago in beating Amir Imam to claim the strap.

“I have a fight against Maurice Hooker, which is a difficult unification battle  in Texas and I am very motivated for it,” said Ramirez to Fight News.

The timing for the fight with Hooker is perfect for Ramirez, because he’ll need defend his WBC title against interim champion Regis Prograis once the World Boxing Super Series 140 pound tournament ends this year. Prograis has held the interim WBC title since 2018, and he would have already fought Ramirez if not for his decision to enter the WBSS tournament.

Many fans view Prograis as the #1 fighter in the light welterweight division now that Terence Crawford has moved up to 147. If Ramirez can win the WBO title from Hooker, he can vacate the WBC belt, and avoid a potential loss to Prograis. It’s one way for Ramirez extend his time as a world champion at 140. Ramirez’s promoters at Top Rank Boxing are likely already planning on having him vacant the WBC title if he beats Hooker on July 27.

“Everyone is really looking forward to it. for me this is the contest for the number one super lightweight of the World right now,” said Hooker’s promoter Dino Duva to the World Boxing Council. “This is going to be a great match. It has the potential in my opinion with their styles to be Fight Of The Year!”

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