Erislandy Lara hasn’t always had sterling luck with the judges. Losses to Paul Williams and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez can attest to that. The former tough-luck (or outright befuddling) loss made Lara so angry he came out and flattened Ronald Hearns in a minute and a half.
After a dominant performance against Delvin Rodriguez (28-8, 16 KOs) that would have left no doubt in the minds of even the most tenderfoot of boxing fans, Lara should have had no doubts about the outcome as the scorecards were read. You can forgive him, though, if he remained skeptical until his hand was in the air.
Turns out those fears weren’t justified, as Erislandy Lara (21-2, 12 KOs) pitched a perfect shutout Friday night at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, winning 120-107 on all three cards for a wide victory.
“You’re never comfortable after what’s happened to me in the past,” he said. “You’re always looking to win every round, win every second. Just stay focused and keep winning.”
Win every round he did, using a cobra-strike counter left that befuddled Rodriguez, and made its home somewhere between the Dominican’s forehead and the bridge of his nose.
Lara landed at will on a night where Rodriguez had precious few answers. And even when he did try to mount an attack, Lara worked comfortably moving backwards, keeping Rodriguez at bay with the jab when he wasn’t baiting him in for the counter left.
“I was trying to bait him in and walk him into the left hand,” Lara said. “He was a little reluctant to come forward so I had to press the action a little bit and put some combinations together.”
Of course, even when Rodriguez took the bait and tried to launch combinations of his own, he found precious little but air. Rodriguez didn’t have the footwork to hang with the nimble Lara as the latter pivoted, ducked, twirled and danced so effectively that by the final frame, Rodriguez threw his hands out in frustration, inviting Lara to come inside to the kitchen.
The steady diet of lefts took their toll in the sixth. He was repeatedly snapping Rodriguez’s head back, and finally smashed him with a left that sent Rodriguez to the canvas with 12 seconds left in the round.
“It was very uncomfortable in there for me tonight,” Rodrigeuz said. “[Lara] was sharp and giving me lots of weird angles to work with.”
For the full summary including photos and video, check out our Lara vs Rodriguez fight page.
Artur Beterbiev keeps knockout streak intact
You can take the Artur Beterbiev into uncharted waters, but he still knows how to fish. With a spear gun, a killer instinct and no mercy, apparently.
Alexander Johnson took Beterbiev deeper than he’s ever been before, into the seventh, but nothing changed for the Russian who sports a pristine 9-0, all nine by knockout as he pummeled Johnson relentlessly before finally getting him out at 1:38 of the seventh—the fourth time Johnson was on the canvas in the night.
Johnson (16-3, 7 KOs) clearly wanted to keep his distance and box Beterbiev, but the Russian was having none of it, repeatedly launching a terrifying overhand right that he’d use as cover to bull his way inside. Once he closed the gap, Beterbiev was a demon on the ropes, hammering away at Johnson who had precious little answer but to try to shove his way out and clear back to the center of the ring, where he could try to snipe at Beterbiev from the outside.
But Johnson didn’t do much to press any kind of attack of his own and it caught up with him in the fifth round. Beterbiev caught him with a looping left hand that finally put Johnson on the deck. Johnson popped back up and took the standing eight count, but seconds later Beterbiev got Johnson on the ropes again, slipping a left uppercut through the gates to set up a vicious right that put Johnson through the ropes.
Johnson took the sixth by virtue of a resting Beterbiev, but the Russian was back at it in the seventh, first putting Johnson on the ground with a counter right, and then finishing him for good with a left that sent Johnson slumping, and a cannon overhand right that crumpled him through the ropes in virtually the same spot he went through in the fifth.
For the full wrap on Beterbiev vs Johnson, make sure to visit our fight page.