I remember watching Paul Williams just before his bout with then unknown Erislandy Lara. I was excited to see one of my favorite fighters back in the ring after a crushing knockout loss to Sergio Martinez. I was confident that at a lower weight we’d see the “Punisher” of old and he’d get back to being one of the most feared men in the sport.
It didn’t happen. As much as I respect Paul Williams as a man and a fighter, this was a fight that pained me to watch. Lara was bloodying him up, landing cleanly and hard. What made the night even worse was when three inexperienced judges gave the fight to Williams. I was sad for my fighter since he would probably be getting a lot of flack that would be undeserved, but I also felt bad for Lara. Here he was, fighting the biggest fight of his career thus far and he got robbed? It wasn’t right and I decided that I would follow his career as best I could.
I can’t remember how or why I became such an advocate to seeing Erislandy Lara step into the ring with then WBC Junior-Middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, but to me it seemed to make sense; most of the opponents he’d faced since winning his title were mostly brought in just to make him look good. Who was really thinking challengers like Alfonso Gomez and semi-retired Shane Mosley were really going to test Alvarez and see if he belonged among the elite?
Lara wanted the fight as well but had to settle for a bout with hard-hitting Alfredo Angulo. That fight really showed the mettle this man has as he was dropped twice by Angulo. However, Lara was able to get up and stop Angulo after giving the Mexican a severe hematoma that made him look grotesque. After that he capped off last year by thoroughly out-boxing and beating up Austin Trout.
From there it seemed only logical that he might be picked as an opponent for Canelo Alvarez after his one-sided loss to Floyd Mayweather. Instead Alfredo Angulo got the call, which puzzled me. Yes, the fight will probably be a big seller because of the Mexican fan base but I think Alvarez could sell out fighting anyone.
So why is it Angulo? My guess is that Golden Boy Promotions (Who promote Alvarez, Angulo and Lara) is trying to get all they can out of Angulo and see how much damage psychologically has been left on Canelo. Does this mean I think it’s going to be an easy fight for Alvarez? No, but I’m expecting him to win.
And poor Erislandy Lara is once again off to the side, waiting for a call to fight Alvarez that probably won’t happen.
As a promoter, your job is to sell the fight as much as possible and sell the fighters as well. Yes, there’s going to be some rhetoric thrown in there but for the most part, it’s supposed to make you want to see not only the fight but that particular fighter.
Golden Boy Promotions seems to have no idea what they want to do with Erislandy Lara. They say that he is skilled but then say that he’s hard to sell. Immediately after his fight with Alfredo Angulo, Richard Schaefer seemed to be trying to take any credit for the fight being exciting away from Lara, making it seem like it was only exciting because Angulo knocked Lara down twice.
What Schaefer doesn’t know is that for people like me, who are fans of Lara and people who are unfamiliar to either fighter (Like my father was), what made it exciting was Lara’s ability to recover from those knock-downs and come back to win. Yes, the knock-downs were exciting but I’m sure many people were impressed when they saw that Lara was still fighting with just as much gusto as before.
Schaefer then admitted that a fight between Lara and Austin Trout would probably be a boring fight.
If that is the case, why did Golden Boy Promotions have no problem making that fight late last year?
At the moment, Lara has nothing lined up though he has been quite vocal on social media that he would have no problem moving up to fight WBO Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. With the Boxing Cold War (BCW) going on, talk of any such a match-up is exciting until you remember the current situation and realize it’s probably never going to happen.
So where does this leave Erislandy Lara? Well, aside from staying active against anyone willing to fight him and reminding people of his talent and abilities, he should probably keep a close eye on the upcoming Alvarez/Angulo fight and throw down a challenge to the winner-most likely Alvarez. And by throw down a challenge, I mean get up in the ring and get in his face similar to what a young Cassius Clay did with Sonny Liston or if you want something within the last decade, what Shane Mosley did with Floyd Mayweather after Floyd won his bout with Juan Manuel Marquez.
And Golden Boy Promotions? Take some advice from me: You have a fighter who goes into the ring, shows he has heart, cojones, chin (Look at how he recovered quickly against Angulo) and fights intelligently. Just borrow the moniker from Paul Williams and call Erislandy Lara “The Most Feared Man in Boxing”.