Trainer Shield (left, in McCarson photo) thinks Lara will get his due, soon, as one of the better pure boxers in the business.
TSS was granted exclusive access to junior welterweight Erislandy Lara’s training camp this week at Plex Boxing Gym near Houston, as he prepares for his November 10th showdown with undefeated prospect Vanes Martirosyan. The bout will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT from the Lafite Ballroom at the Wynn in Las Vegas.
On hand for the workout were Lara, head trainer Ronnie Shields, manager Luis Decubas, Jr. and strength and conditioning coach Edward Jackson. Decubas and Jackson stood ringside as Lara did some light shadowboxing with Shields for three rounds to start things off before putting in nine more hitting the mitts. Shields barked strategy at Lara as the two men worked back and forth across the ring in preparation for Martirosyan. Lara appears to be in shape and ready to go. Jackson said his weight was right where it needed to be ten days or so before the fight and that Lara was staying sharp, focused and ready to go. Team Lara is confident in their fighter as the bout approaches. Lara took a moment to speak to TSS through Decubas, who served as the translator. While he is able to speak and understand English, Lara is more confident speaking in his native language, Spanish.
“I’ve trained well, and I’m ready to go,” Lara said. “I’m focused on Vanes and ready for Nov 10.” Lara and Martirosyan have traded words through media outlets as well as on Twitter through the last few months. The fight has been of the “on again, off again” variety, and Lara said he was anxious for the trash talk to stop so that the fighting can finally begin. However, Lara noted it wasn’t him that paying all the attention to all the prefight banter. “That’s his problem. I know what I’ve got to do and I’m ready to go. On November 10, he better turn all that talking into punching.”
Ronnie Shields concurred, and noted Martirosyan seemed to be getting quieter as the fight date approaches. “When you talk a good game, well, it’s time to bring it now,” he said. “As it gets closer, it starts to sink in who he’s fighting. I’m sure he’ll bring his best though. We’re not expecting anything less. We’re prepared. We’re ready. Lara will definitely be at his best.” Shields is confident a win over Martirosyan fight would springboard his fighter to bigger and better opportunities. He said Lara was already one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world and that he just needed more opportunities to show it. “People are going to realize that this kid is for real, and that he is one of the best pure boxers in the sport,” he said. “That is what boxing is missing: pure boxing. This guy is going to put on a clinic no matter who he fights. This guy is a throwback fighter, and people are going to start realizing it and giving him his props.”
Lara’s longtime fitness guru, Edward Jackson, agrees. “When you’re ready for the big time, you’ve got to have the big fights,” he said. “You’ve got to win the big fights, and I think Lara can win the big fights.”
While the winner of Lara-Martirosyan is scheduled to be named number one contender to WBC beltholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Decubas said Lara would be ready for any number of opponents should Alvarez exercise his option for a voluntary defense against someone else first. Golden Boy President Richard Schaeffer has bandied about several names for Canelo’s proposed early 2013 date, none of which are the winner of Lara-Martirosyan. Still, Decubas and team are confident Golden Boy, who also promotes Lara, will get their fighter a top level fight should he prove victorious on November 10. “If it’s not Canelo, then it will be another big fight for a world title,” he said. “We’ll figure it out. The Canelo fight will be there sooner or later. They’re both young. They’re both strong and in the prime of their careers.”
Decubas has been pushing for a fight against Canelo for a while now, though it seems Golden Boy is reluctant to pull the trigger. In fairness, Alvarez, while an undefeated titlist, may be better suited angling for a big money fight against the likes of Miguel Cotto or Floyd Mayweather first, options which would far surpass the money he could earn fighting anyone else. Decubas said Lara would stay busy against top level opposition regardless, and he mentioned several top junior middleweights as possible opponents, including IBF titlist and recent Golden Boy signee Cornelius Bundrage. Decubas even said they’d be willing to move up to middleweight for the right fight.
“We’re willing to move up to 160 for Sergio Martinez,” he told TSS. This will be Lara’s first fight under the co-management of Al Haymon. Decubas said he was excited to be working with Haymon, who he considers one of the brightest and most successful people in the sport. Some see Haymon as the wily manager who seems to use his close relationship with HBO to propel fighters in his stable to lucrative opportunities with grand exposure. Regardless, Lara said he knows his future has more to do with what he does inside the ring than what goes on outside of it.
After finishing the training session with various strenuous-looking core exercises on the floor, Lara ended the day chatting with TSS. He said the key to boxing for him is knowing who he is fighting for. “My family, my mother in Cuba, my two children in Cuba, my wife here and our two kids here in the United States and the fans,” he said when asked what inspired him to do what he does. “I do this for my family and my fans.”