Fight fans won’t have to wait four months into the year for the first local card of 2017.
Super-welterweight champion Erislandy Lara will return to Hialeah Park and Casino on January 13 to defend his title. Lara will face former champion Yuri Foreman in the main event of a card that also will feature a super-middleweight match between Anthony Dirrell and Norbert Nemesapati.
A native of Cuba, Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs) fought on the same venue 13 months ago, when he stopped former welterweight champion Jan Zaveck in three rounds.
Although recognized as champion by the World Boxing Association, Lara looks to enhance his opportunities at landing premium bouts. A possible future match, if Lara defeats Foreman, could be a title unification bout against Jermall Charlo. Charlo retained his International Boxing Federation belt after a fifth-round knockout win over Julian Williams on Dec. 10.
Lara and Charlo both fight under the Premier Boxing Champions stable, reducing the possible promotional conflicts that could impede the bout.
“On fight night, I’m making another statement and going for the knockout,” Lara said on the Premier Boxing Champions website. “After this fight, it’s time to unify the division then move up to win the middleweight titles.”
Foreman (34-2, 10 KOs) is a former junior-middleweight titleholder and has won five consecutive bouts since a two-fight skid in 2010 and 2011.
The Hialeah Park and Casino card, two weeks into 2017, serves as a noticeable contrast to the first local show of 2016 on April 1 at War Memorial Auditorium.
AROUND THE RING
▪ Bernard Hopkins often uses the Frank Sinatra classic “My Way” to define his Hall of Fame-bound career. Hopkins emphasizes how he has dictated a 28-year ring journey on his terms.
But Hopkins, who turns 52 next month, certainly didn’t envision the scene that will close a career highlighted by a 10-year, 20-fight run as middleweight champion and subsequent reign in the light-heavyweight class.
In what he billed as his career-farewell fight, Hopkins suffered an eighth-round knockout loss against Joe Smith at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Smith (23-1, 19 KOs) connected frequently with rights to the head. Hopkins’ two-year layoff and obviously-advanced boxing age far from depicted a champion adept at slipping shots and frustrating opponent with every imaginable ring tactic.
Early in the eighth round, Smith pressed Hopkins to the ropes and scored with a flurry of unanswered combinations. Hopkins fell through the ropes and landed on the ringside floor.
Hopkins complained of an ankle injury that limited his ability to reach his feet and return to the ring. Consequently, referee Jack Reiss stopped the bout at 53 seconds of the round.
“I know if I hadn’t made a mess and gotten knocked out of the ring, I would’ve come back like I’m known for and would’ve had my chin,” Hopkins said in a statement. “The reason I said I’m upset they are giving Smith the TKO is because the momentum threw the ropes. I didn’t dive through the ropes.
“This is my last fight. I promised it would be and you come to that point in life where it is final and I’m happy with my retirement. I know the fans will know I went out as a soldier, fighting the toughest, baddest opponents.”
A part-time Miami Beach resident, Hopkins ends his career with a 55-8-2 record, 32 knockouts and two no contests.
▪ Miami resident Sullivan Barrera overcame his first professional loss against Andre Ward, stopping Vyacheslav Chabranskyy in the seventh-round of their light-heavyweight bout Friday in Indio, California.
Barrera (18-1, 13 KOs) dropped Chabranskyy (17-1) in the first, fifth and seventh rounds. Chabranskyy’s cornermen advised referee Ray Corona to stop the bout after the third knockdown.
“This proves that my career in boxing is alive,” Barrera said. “I want a rematch with Andre Ward.”