This Friday at the llusions Theater in San Antonio, Texas, Erislandy Lara (19-2-2, 12 KO’s) and Ishe Smith (26-6, 12 KO’s) face off for Lara’s “regular” WBA world light middleweight championship.
Lara comes in off a close split decision loss to Saul Alvarez in a non-title bout earlier this year. It was a close call that many felt should have been scored the other way but regardless, Lara did his job and hasn’t lost any ground based on the result and is still among the top fighters in the division.
He’s held the WBA title since June of last year, when he stopped Alfredo Angulo in a close contest that saw the Cuban fighter dropped twice before pulling out the win. The victory earned him the “interim” title, which he defended at the close of 2013 against Austin Trout. He out-boxed Trout en route to a comfortable decision win over 12 rounds and managed to drop challenger in the 11th frame as well.
Smith is moving into his 15th year as a pro, and the Las Vegas native has seen his share of ups and downs both in his career and life. The former “Contender” participant has managed to remain a somewhat prominent figure in the sport and despite the setbacks, has persevered, and won his first world title in February of 2013, beating another “Contender” in Cornelius Bundrage over 12 rounds by majority decision for the IBF light middleweight crown; he was ahead by a wide margin on the two cards scored in his favor. In his first defense seven months later, he was outworked by Carlos Molina, and lost the title via split decision (Molina in turn, lost the title this past October to Bundrage). Smith picked up an easy second round knockout of Ryan Davis in May, his first stoppage in two years.
This match up had been proposed as far back as 2012, and originally the two were set to square off in May but the bout was cancelled. Leading up to the originally scheduled contest, there appeared to be some bad blood between the two, with Lara going as far as promising to retire Smith altogether. The trash talk has been minimal this time around, though both fighters are confident in their abilities. While this is a fight that may lack in overall excitement for the casual fan, it will be enjoyable for those with appreciation of the technical talents of the fighters.