Before Gennady Golovkin experienced the frustrations of allowing judges decide his fights against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Erislandy Lara could have provided him a first-hand account.
Lara, after all, was the victim of a disputed decision loss when he fought Alvarez five years ago in Las Vegas. Like Golovkin in his two close bouts with Alvarez, Lara felt he did sufficient ring work to earn a victory. But when fighting Alvarez, and especially in Las Vegas, the prospects of winning a decision have become impossible.
For years, Lara unsuccessfully pursued a rematch against Alvarez. In fact, moments after their bout, Lara voiced his argument for a second bout when Alvarez’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya tauntingly told him to “go to the back of the line” and wait his turn.
Unable to land another bout with Alvarez, the native of Cuba will seek revenge instead with another member of the current middleweight champion’s family. Lara (25-3-3, 14 KOs) will face Alvarez’s brother, Ramon, Aug. 31 in Minneapolis.
The scheduled 12-round bout will air on Fox as Lara also attempts to remain in contention to reclaim the 154-pound championship. The winner will earn a second-tier sanctioning body title.
“This fight against Ramon Alvarez is personal for me, as I have history with the Alvarez family,” Lara said. “Expect another great fight and a spectacular performance.”
After his close loss to Canelo Alvarez, Lara won a super-welterweight title and made five successful defenses. Lara’s reign ended last year in a tight split decision loss against Jarret Hurd. A 12th round knockdown by Hurd swung the scorecards and cost Lara his title.
In his comeback bout against Brian Castaño on March 2, Lara again dealt with yet another close result. The three judges submitted conflicting scorecards as the bout ended in a split draw.”
Because of the frequent close decisions negating him victories, Lara vows to pursue a knockout against Alvarez. Emphasizing aggression would offset the boxing style that has defined Lara’s career.
The opportunity to face Alvarez’s brother likely becomes another motivator. Ramon Alvarez (28-7-3, 16 KOs) has one previous fight outside his native Mexico, when he was stopped in nine rounds by former lightweight champion Brandon Rios last November.
“I’ve worked hard my whole career for a fight like this and I’m going to take advantage,” Alvarez said. “My brother beat Lara a few years back and I’m going to be the next Alvarez to beat Lara.”
Hall of Fame recognition
Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles’ recognition as one of the best fighters in boxing history was verified with his inclusion in the first class inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
A two-time welterweight champion, Napoles died Friday in Mexico. Napoles was 79.
Napoles fought his first 21 professional bouts in his native Cuba. When the island nation’s communist government banned professional sports, Napoles left Cuba in 1961 and moved to Mexico, where the country’s passionate boxing fans adopted him as one of their own.
In 1969, Napoles scored a 13th-round technical knockout over Curtis Cokes to win the world welterweight title at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Napoles made three successful defenses before losing the belt against Billy Backus in 1970.
Backus granted Napoles a rematch the following year and the former champion reclaimed his belt with an eighth-round TKO win.
Napoles’ second title reign featured 10 successful defenses. During his second championship run, Napoles unsuccessfully sought the middleweight title against champion Carlos Monzon in 1974.
Fighting in an era when champions frequently took non-title dates, Napoles kept a busy ring schedule between defenses.
“Napoles came from a family of boxers, his father, uncles and cousins all fought,” said boxing historian and author Enrique Encinosa, whose book “Hard Leather: A History of Cuban Boxing” features a chapter on Napoles. “He could do everything. He could box, fight aggressively and counterpunch. His one flaw was that he cut frequently. That’s why Billy Backus beat him.”
Napoles retired after losing his title against John Stracey in 1975. His career record was 81-7 with 54 knockouts. He also fought in 18 title bouts, the most by a Cuban-born fighter
Coming up: Thursday (10 p.m., DAZN): Luis Feliciano vs. Genaro Games, 10, super-lightweights.; Friday (10 p.m. Showtime): Vladimir Shiskin vs. DeAndre Ware, 10, super-middleweights; Saturday (10 p.m., Fox Sports1): Brandon Figueroa vs. Javier Chacon, 12, super-bantamweights.