Erislandy Lara had to wait out a rainstorm Wednesday night before he could get in the ring with Jan Zaveck. Once there, though, the Cuban star didn’t waste any time defending his 154-pound world title in South Florida.
Erislandy Lara was uncharacteristically aggressive as he dominated his 39-year-old opponent from the opening bell en route and gained a third-round technical knockout at Hialeah Park Racing & Casino.
The start of the ESPN-televised bout was delayed as rain pelted the outdoor ring, but that didn’t seem to affect Lara, who earned his first stoppage since he rose from a pair of knockdowns to gain a 10th-round TKO of Alfredo Angulo in June 2013.
“Tonight I showed I could be aggressive,” Lara said. “I wanted to stand my ground more in this fight and show the world that I could fight coming forward. People don't understand, but I can fight many styles if need be.
“He was throwing a lot of wild punches, but I was able to see everything coming. I figured him out in the first round. I hit him with a 1-2 combination in the first round and hurt him. Once I saw that he was hurt, I was looking to end the fight but he survived the second. And that's when I took him out the following round.”
Early in the third, Jan Zaveck (35-4, 19 KOs) turned toward referee Telis Assimenios after taking a shot from Lara and simultaneously stretched his right hand awkwardly toward the Cuban southpaw, who nailed the former 147-pound champion with a couple of punches to the head before Assimenios stepped in to protect Zaveck and waved an end to the fight at the 41-second mark.
“I don’t have any excuses; Lara is a perfect boxer. There’s not many boxers like him,” said Zaveck, who was stopped for the first time since losing to Andre Berto in five rounds in September 2011. “He’s a brilliant boxer, he knows everything. He’s got a lot of experience and I can say that he’s the best in the world, a world champion who will stay a world champion.”
Zaveck said afterward that he experienced a muscle spasm in his right shoulder that he believes was caused by a punch to the right side of his neck in the final round.
“I have a sharp pain going from my neck to my shoulder on the right side. I have never been injured like this before. It is very strange. The pain is like surging," said Zaveck, who dismissed the notion that the inclement weather affected his performance.
“I knew I could try to fight on and land a lucky punch, but that was a small possibility and it was probably better to stop and fight another day. I felt good in there before that. I tried to surprise him by fighting him in close, but I was taking too many punches and he has very good power.”
Lara (22-2-2, 13 KOs) outlanded Zaveck 52-17 in total punches, including a 38-13 edge in power shots. It was Lara's third straight win since losing a July 2014 split decision to Saul "Canelo” Alvarez, whom he called out, along with 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin, after beating Zaveck.
“I'll fight Canelo, I'll fight GGG. Bring it on. I’m ready to fight anybody in the 154-pound division. If a big fight presents itself at 160 pounds, I'm ready to go,” said Lara, who also mentioned Houston-based training partners and twin brothers Jermall and Jermell Charlo as potential opponents.
“I respect the Charlos, but like every fight that I'm in, I believe I will come out victorious, them included. I would love to unify all the belts at 154. I'm taking all comers regardless. Everyone and anyone around 154 to 160 pounds.”
Lara, 32, backed up the slower Zaveck early on behind consistent right hooks and lead rights, the last of which rocked the Slovenian veteran toward the end of the second round.
“I know I hit him with a very powerful blow to the neck, and it must have hurt him really bad. I think it was a good stoppage,” Lara said. “I showed tonight that I am a very powerful puncher. The fact that I stopped Zaveck faster than anyone else proves it.”
In the night's other televised bout, Emmanuel Rodriguez (14-0, 10 KOs) scored a third-round knockdown during a seventh-round TKO of Eliecer Aquino (17-2-1, 11 KOs). It was the 23-year-old Puerto Rican prospect’s fifth straight win by stoppage.
For complete coverage of Lara vs Zaveck, visit our fight page.