Erislandy Lara Wants Middleweight Elite
Erislandy Lara, who fought just once in 2020 and once in 2021, will end a nearly 13-month layoff to defend his WBA “regular” middleweight belt for the first time against big underdog Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in the co-feature of the Gervonta Davis-Rolando Romero fight on Saturday Showtime PPV at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
For several years Lara was one of the best junior middleweights in the world and a longtime titleholder before moving up to middleweight in his last fight last May. That is when he blitzed the thoroughly overmatched Thomas LaManna, knocking him out in the first round to claim the vacant secondary belt.
Ireland’s O’Sullivan (31-4, 21 KOs), 37, is a similar level opponent, who has been stopped in three of his losses. He has lost whenever he has stepped up to face a top opponent, including to Jaime Mungia (TKO11), David Lemieux (KO1), Chris Eubank Jr. (TKO7) and Billy Joe Saunders (L12). That is why Lara is a heavy favorite and eyeing the top fighters in the division should he retain his belt as expected.
“I feel strong at 160 pounds,” Lara said at his recent media day through an interpreter. “I showed that in my last fight and I’ll show it again in this fight. I’m ready to display all of my skills once again.
“Come (Saturday), when I come out victorious, I’m ready to fight the best in the division. I’m not even going to mention their names, because I’m tired of doing that. I’m just focused on getting in the ring with all the best fighters.”
Gennadiy Golovkin is a unified titleholder and owner of the IBF title and main WBA belt, although he is headed for a third fight with Canelo Alvarez at super middleweight in September. Demetrius Andrade holds the WBO title, but is sidelined with an injury and was planning to also fight at super middleweight next. Jermall Charlo, who has a title defense next month, holds the WBC belt.
“People are avoiding me at 160 pounds just like they did at 154,” Lara said. “I’m a tough matchup for anyone out there. That’s why they don’t want to fight me.”
When he faces O’Sullivan he will do so in his fourth fight at Barclays Center. It is where he has fought three junior middleweight title fights — a draw with Brian Castano in 2019 and unanimous decisions over Terrell Gausha (2017) and Austin Trout (2013).
“I’m excited to be fighting back in Brooklyn again,” Lara said. “I’ve had a lot of success in New York and it’s going to be fun being on a big PPV event like this with Gervonta Davis.”