Erislandy Lara eyeing up Hall of Fame status

After a successful amateur career, Houston-based Guantanamo-born Erislandy Lara has eked out a reputation as being one of the most respected middleweights in a stacked class
Erislandy Lara eyeing up Hall of Fame status

Erislandy Lara poses with the WBA Middleweight belt. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

After a successful amateur career, Houston-based Guantanamo-born Erislandy 'The American Dream' Lara has eked out a reputation as being one of the most respected middleweights in a stacked class.

But also the most avoided and arguably most unfairly treated.

No matter what happens tonight, this will be one of his last handful of times entering the ring and the time is nigh for him to start thinking about what went right and where he was wronged.

One of the most infamous nights of his professional career saw him land on the wrong side of a split decision against Canelo Alvarez ten years ago this summer. It was a decision so controversial that it resulted in all three judges receiving suspensions from the New Jersey State Athletic Commission.

Tonight’s bout will just be his second as a middleweight in a career too often spent as the fighter to be avoided by the more popular box office stars.

Not that O’Sullivan is coming off the back of a busy phase - only “one Mickey Mouse fight” in Belgium as he told the Irish Examiner on Thursday - but Lara has been 13 months out of the ring which at his age is surely a disadvantage in some ways.

“No one wanted to fight me,” Lara told The Ring this week. “So, I had to keep my body in shape during my time out of the ring. I’m still a major threat to everyone in the division. That’s the reason for the long layoff.

“I feel stronger at middleweight and my power seems to be more effective in this weight class. I want to solidify myself as a Hall of Fame fighter before I end my career – that is the ultimate goal.” 

O’Sullivan’s goal, meanwhile, is to be the first person to beat Lara by stoppage.

Lara was a top Cuban amateur, winning gold medals at the 2005 World Championships and at the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games. After an attempted defection from Cuba alongside Guillermo Rigondeaux failed in 2007, Lara was prevented from winning gold at the 2008 Olympics as he was favoured to do so.

He did manage to get smuggled out in 2008, paying a heavy bribe to do so given his elevated notoriety.

It paved the way for an exciting professional career, the latest chapter of which will be written this evening in Brooklyn.

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