Erislandy Lara is a Cuban defector who epitomizes his nickname—“The American Dream”—as much as anyone in boxing. So it’s only fitting that Lara’s next title defense would be staged the day before Thanksgiving—and in his adopted hometown.
Lara will return to the ring November 25 when he puts his 154-pound title on the line against former 147-pound champion Jan Zaveck (35-3, 19 KOs) at Hialeah Park Racing & Casino in Miami. The scheduled 12-round title clash headlines a Premier Boxing Champions card on ESPN (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
“I’m very excited to be defending my title in my hometown of Miami,” says Erislandy Lara (21-2-2, 12 KOs), who made his way to the U.S. and settled in Miami after a prolific amateur career in Cuba. “Getting in the ring with a former world champion and an experienced fighter like Jan Zaveck is something I’m very much looking forward to.
"On November 25, I will put on a show for my Cuban fans and the public watching on ESPN.”
The 32-year-old Lara will be fighting for the first time since June 12, when he pitched a shutout against veteran title contender Delvin Rodriguez in Chicago to earn a 12-round unanimous decision.
Going back to June 2013, Lara is on a 4-1 streak, including a unanimous decision over top 154-pound contender Austin Trout in December 2013. The only opponent to get the better of the southpaw over the past four years is Saul "Canelo” Alvarez, who won a disputed 12-round split decision in July 2014.
Zaveck will enter the ring riding a three-fight winning streak, most recently earning a 12-round unanimous decision in his native Slovenia in April against Sasha Yengoyan.
The 39-year-old Zaveck, who resides in Germany, won a 147-pound world championship in December 2009, when he scored a third-round TKO of Isaac Hlatshwayo in South Africa. Zaveck successfully defended his title three times before falling to Andre Berto in September 2011.
He followed that with a victory over Bethuel Ushona in March 2012, putting him in position to fight rising 147-pound contender Keith Thurman in a title-elimination bout. Zaveck got whitewashed in that contest, though, losing 120-106 on all three cards.
Zaveck will no doubt own the experience edge in this contest, as he’s fought 271 rounds in his pro career compared with 156 for Lara. However, he’ll be facing arguably his biggest challenge to date, as Lara is widely regarded as one of the most technically skilled boxers in the game—a fact that isn’t lost on Zaveck.
“I am aware that this will be one of the toughest fights of my career,” Zaveck says. “I respect Lara, and I will prove that I am on the same level. I am aware that I am the underdog and that I am coming to Lara’s ‘living room.’
“I am coming to Miami to chase my dreams and surprise everybody.”
For complete coverage of Lara vs Zaveck, visit our fight page.