Junior middleweight titleholder Erislandy Lara outpointed Vanes Martirosyan in a rematch of their 2012 technical draw on Saturday night at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to retain his belt for the fourth time and is calling for a bigger fight.
Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs), a former amateur standout on the Cuban national team before he defected, is the consensus No. 1 boxer at 154 pounds. But because his fights -- to put it nicely -- generally lack in entertainment value thanks to a less-than-scintillating technical style, he has not gained any traction with fans.
That makes it hard for him to secure major fights with any regularity, though because he mouthed off at Canelo Alvarez at the news conference after his win against Alfredo Angulo in 2014, Alvarez decided to fight him next (much to the chagrin of his handlers at Golden Boy). Alvarez beat him by well-deserved split decision in a fight that helped Lara cement his reputation for mobility by running like a track star for long stretches.
Now Lara wants a rematch with Alvarez, who went on to win the lineal middleweight title, or a shot at three-belt unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin. Neither fight has much of a chance to happen, but nobody should blame the 33-year-old Lara for calling for them.
"I'm ready to step up and fight anyone in my division, or if a big fight can be made at middleweight, I'm willing to be great [by moving up in weight],” Lara said. “My first choice is to fight GGG. My next choice would be to have a rematch with Canelo.”
If he can’t land either fight, Lara has another thing in mind: making junior middleweight history.
“If either fight can't be made, then my focus will be to put my name in the record books. All the fights at this level are tough, so to break the record for most consecutive title defenses at [junior middleweight] would be unbelievable,” Lara said.
Italy’s Gianfranco Rosi set the record by making 11 consecutive defense of his 154-pound belt between 1989 and 1994, going 10-0-1.
"I'm ready to fight anybody between welterweight and middleweight,” Lara said. “My first choice is to fight GGG because I feel he's the toughest opponent and would be a fight that would solidify my legacy. My next choice would be to have a rematch with Canelo because we all know there's unfinished business with lots of controversy. If either fight can't be made, then my focus will be to put my name in the record books and defend my titles 12 times to break the record and unify [the titles] all at the same time."