As the elder statesman at 154 pounds, Cuban southpaw Erislandy Lara is targeting a world title unification match in the division and a record 11 title defenses before rising to the 160-pound division.
But the 34-year-old Lara, known as the “American Dream” must first get beyond Terrell Gausha, a 30-year-old Cleveland, Ohio native who has toiled in relative obscurity in a stacked weight class. Gausha wants to join his 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing teammates Errol Spence, Jr. and Rau’shee Warren as world champions.
“It’s our time. I'm real confident that I walk away with the world title,’’ Gausha said. “When I win, it's going to be a big notch for me to show that I'm at the top of my division.”
Lara (24-2, 14 KOs) will be after his seventh defense, his second straight knockout and his third in four bouts against Gausha (20-0, 9 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York in the main event of a 154-pound championship triple header on Showtime on Saturday night (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
Jarrett Hurd (20-0, 14 KOs) will defend his title against former champion Austin Trout (30-3, 17 KOs) and Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) will defend his title against Erickson Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs) on Showtime.
Lara is coming off a fourth-round knockout of former champion Yuri Foreman in January. His resume includes victories over former world champions Trout and Ishe Smith. So the slick Cuban southpaw definitely has experience on his side.
“I want to unify – to win all of the belts. After this fight, I look forward to, one-by-one, adding the WBC and the IBF (titles),’’ Lara said. “Hopefully, one of these young guns will step up to the plate and fight me. I will show everybody I’m the best in the 154-pound division, and I’m here for a long time.”
“I would love to move up to 160 where Canelo (Alvarez) and (Gennady) Golovkin are the top guys,” said Lara.
“ I don’t know Gausha well, but on Saturday he’s going to have to show me something or he’ll be in trouble. After six rounds, I’ll be totally dominating. ” WBA 154-pound world champion Erislandy Lara
Lara lost a controversial decision to Alvarez in 2014. He also works with trainer Ronnie Shields and spars with former 154-pound champion Jermall Charlo, who is now the No. 1 contender for the middleweight title held by Golovkin.
“Canelo knows who the true winner of our fight was, and he doesn’t want a rematch. But there are better fights at 154. I don’t know Gausha well, but on Saturday he’s going to have to show me something or he’ll be in trouble. After six rounds, I’ll be totally dominating.”
Trained by Manny Robles, Gausha last faced a southpaw in July 2014. He scored a first round stoppage of Ronnie Warrior Jr. Ukrainian bronze medalist Taras Sheletstyuk (16-0, 10 KOs) was among Gausha’s top sparring partners for the Lara fight.
"Lara’s crafty. I haven't been in camp with the type of fighters he's been in there with, but this is not the first time I’ve been the underdog,” said Gausha. “Pressure is nothing I haven't seen before. I’ll use it to my advantage. I have an interesting fighting style. I can make adjustments. I have hunger and will to win.”
Gausha has been an active contender. He scored his last knockout by stopping Orlando Lora in the seventh round on April 2016). In his last fight he defeated Luis Hernandez by unanimous decision in February.
“This is going to be my best performance to date, and I’ve been focused and looking sharp,” said Gausha.
For a complete look at Lara vs Gausha, visit our fight page.