I admit, I kind of like the nickname Erislandy Lara has been using, “The American Dream.”
The 31-year-old Cuban native, who takes on his stiffest challenge as a pro when he collides with Canelo Alvarez at the MGM in Las Vegas, on July 12, turned pro in 2008, after an extensive amateur career repping the Cuban fight factory. He attempted to defect in 2007, and made it to Brazil but was snagged by the Cubans. He succeeded in 2008, making his way to Mexico.
The fighter, who sports a 19-1-2 mark, told me that he is proud to use that American Dream nickname, because this nation has allowed him freedom to flourish. “America gave me freedom” he said, through manager/translator Luis De Cubas. “Coming from a Communist country, you were not able to do nothing. Here, I can achieve goals, become a world champion, feed my family.”
Lara's last outing was perhaps his best as a pro. He soundly outboxed AustinTrout on Dec. 7, 2012 at Barclays Center, and with that, was owner of the interim WBA junior middleweight title. Pretty much the first thing he did after that was buy his mom, still living in Cuba, a house. She had been living in what amounted to a shack, with a metal roof, which as you can imagine wasn't too inviting during warm weather months. The hitter has two children in Cuba he hasn't seen in six years, so of course, that tears at him. But he is looking forward to a new addition to the clan, he said, informing TSS that the missus is due to birth a baby girl the day after the Canelo clash. Lara has two children, boys, currently living in the US.
Many fight fans are looking at this pair-up curiously, wondering why the Mexican young gun wants to attempt to get the better of such a technical wizard, when he has immense power to pick and choose his foes. Well, I say heavy props to Canelo for walking the walk…
Anyway, Lara told me, when I asked what sort of fight we will see, that he's ready for anything. “It all depends on how it plays out. We could stand and trade or I could box his ears off.”
Lara sees himself as among the best boxers in the world, right there with the Mayweather and Ward…he'd love a crack at Floyd, and said he's confident he could lure Money into a scrap much the same way he did Canelo, if and when he takes care of the Mexican July 12. He sees a Lara-Mayweather fight as being a version of the Sugar Ray Leonard-Wilfred Benitez bout, “chessmaster versus chessmaster.
“Floyd has never seen anyone like Lara,” De Cubas told me.
The manager acknowledged that Lara, like so many of these Cubans who have so much experience, can sometimes fall into autopilot mode. He's amped for this fight, but really, doesn't see Canelo as anything too special. “It's just another gig,” De Cubas said.
What say you, fight fans. Is this just another gig? Can Lara exploit a perceived technical edge and give the 43-1-1 Canelo a lesson in pugilism? Or does Lara's chin get checked by the 23-year-old Mexican, who had an easier time with common foe Alfredo Angulo than the Cuban did. Talk to me, in our Forum…