Erislandy Lara inflicted a one-sided beatdown on Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan, knocking him down in the fourth and leaving the referee with no option but to step in, in the eighth. However, at 39, he needs to be fighting a better level of opposition at this stage of his career if he wants to secure the big ‘pay day’ fights and also win a primary world title at middleweight. Ironically,
Erislandy Lara’s greatest achievement in his career is in defeat. Many observers believed he beat Canelo in their split defeat back in 2014.
Erislandy Lara’s Career
The 1-2 from Lara was effective for Lara and his quick feet meant he proved a tricky Rubix cube for Canelo to solve at his young age. However, despite his unarguable success and achievements, he has yet to obtain a scored win that would elevate him to a lofty mantle in the sport. His defeat to Jarrett Hurd was a razor-close fight and exactly the type of win that could propel his status in the sport.
A unification bout with another split decision verdict where no judge gave the fight to either man by more than around. Ultimately, a knockdown in the last round cost Erislandy Lara the titles, a late grandstand akin to other showdowns I witnessed live on British soil such as Morgan Jones vs Moses Auimatagi Jnr and Isaac Chamberlain vs Luke Watkins.
A win over Hurd would have firmly put Erislandy Lara as a truly elite level boxer, while his skill and technical acumen are not up for debate, he needed those titles to ensure his resume progressed beyond the status of a world-class fighter.
Erislandy Lara vs Gary O’Sullivan
Against Gary O’Sullivan, Erislandy Lara sat on his punches more than usual and also showed a willingness to stand in the pocket at times, in order to get his work off. He still showed hallmarks of his counter-punching, finding a home in the ropes at times but make no mistake, Lara was fighting on the front foot and not moving out of range as much.
He’s in the who needs his camp. Yes, he has a regular WBA world title but he’s not a household name outside of the boxing world and he is a difficult night’s work for anyone, tough to look good against, tough to hurt and tough to gain significant traction in the sport against.
The last stated opinion may be scrutinized but people within boxing would feasibly discredit a win by saying Erislandy Lara is no longer in his prime and justly highlight that the world title is only a secondary belt.
I love to play matchmaker but for a change, I will leave that to readers in the comments, but surely if Lara is still competing in the sport at the twilight of his career, he must want the big fights for the fully-fledged titles. But why would those champions entertain a fight with him?
The only logical option would be to wait for the belts to fragment if Golovkin vacates or take an in-house fight with Jermall Charlo. But fighting an opponent, a game Spike, nonetheless a repeatedly overmatched Spike, who was dispatched by Chris Eubank Jr in 7 rounds, a whopping 7 years ago, is not the type of fight that will demand and enforce the big fight that Lara needs. I’m wary of the cynicism of this article, so for sake of balance, I must say I still think Lara has something to offer in the sport.
The fight with Spike didn’t leave me feeling shortchanged as the chief support offering for the Fite TV PPV price. He was exciting to watch, in terms of the skillset on display and the punching power (his counter left excellently timed and followed with a spiteful straight left to send Spike tumbling on the canvas).
He is a worthy challenger for any title in the division as one of the top fighters at middleweight, he has never lost a fight by unanimous decision and his change in style is executed in said title fight would make for a fun fight. But the clock is ticking, the next one has to be a big one and time is of the essence.