There is very little argument to be made that WBA Junior Middleweight champion Erislandy Lara is one of the best fighters in the world. There’s even less of an argument to be made that he’s also one of the most frustrating to watch.
The prodigious Cuban has made five defenses of his title, each coming against middling opposition at best and each time Lara has opted to play it safe and sabotage his own chances of landing a big fight by playing down to his level of opponent and producing dreadful affairs. How he keeps getting featured bout one after the other is truly mind boggling, and his latest opponent, faded ex-champ Yuri Foreman, will leave us with no less hope that things will change.
It has seemed like almost a lifetime when Foreman held a Junior Middleweight belt, especially because his reign was far from memorable. After winning the title from a severely drained Daniel Santos in 2009, Foreman suffered back-to-back stoppages at the hands of Miguel Cotto and PawalWolak and has fought sporadically ever since.
Foreman has yet to test himself beyond the series of club fighters he’s been fighting, so it is a mystery in of itself why the WBA would sanction him as an opponent for their title. Going into the ring, Foreman will enjoy slight advantages in height and reach over the Cuban, but is sorely lacking the punching power he’s going to need to stand a chance.
Lara will no doubt let Foreman dictate terms early on and will only step on the gas should he feel that he is leaving him opportunities to land some stinging counters. Though he’s far from a knockout artist, Lara’s accurate shots are extremely damaging and may be quick to grind down Foreman who will probably play Lara’s game from the onset by keeping the fight on the outside.
Outside of a miracle, this fight has a Lara win all over it, which leads us to hope that Lara’s proclamations of targeting a stoppage is genuine and will actually happen. We’ve heard it before, but for all of his bad intentions, it is usually the fans and viewers being punished and his foes get carried to a decision. Despite Foreman being where he is at this stage of his career, a stoppage isn’t as likely as one would think.
With all the talent in the world, Lara suffers the same issue as many of his Cuban counterparts in fighting at the level of his foe and that will be in full effect Friday night. Lara will look as bad as Foreman will for a period of time, landing at will and seemingly picking him apart where a corner stoppage wouldn’t be a bad idea midway through the fight.
Though this fight should be a quick and perhaps clinical destruction of yet another over matched foe, Foreman’s toughness and Lara’s inability to transition to offense will be on full display for a dreadful 12 round bout that Lara will win by a virtual shutout.