Jorge Lara and Ulises Solis are separated in age by 10 years but share a similar past, having been raised in poverty a stone’s throw from one another in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
“Like Jorge, I grew up not having the things that normal kids had,” says Solis, a former two-time 108-pound champion who recently began training Lara. “We can both relate to the day-to-day struggle. We both had to fight for what we wanted, and that is a better life.”
Motivated to become a champion and provide for his four young children still living with their mother in Guadalajara, Jorge Lara (27-0-1, 19 KOs) is grateful to absorb the knowledge dispensed by Solis.
“I trust whatever he says because he knows what he is doing,” says the 24-year-old Lara, who “grew up poor in a ghetto."
“He understands my sacrifices, because he’s had to overcome similar things to get to that championship level.”
Lara’s quest for his first title continues Tuesday against Jesus Rojas (21-1-1, 15 KOs) at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. The 126-pound bout precedes the Austin Trout vs Joey Hernandez clash, which headlines a Premier Boxing Champions card (Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
At Monday's weigh-in, Lara tipped the scales at 123 pounds, while Rojas came in at 122.8.
“Ulises always reminds Jorge how hard it was for him to get where he is today,” says Fernando Dominguez, Lara’s manager. “With his experience of being a two-time champion, [Solis] is able to push [Lara] toward that championship level where he hopes to be.”
In his first camp with Lara, the 34-year-old Solis has added savvy and technique to his hammer-fisted fighter’s raw power. Those two ingredients could prove important against Rojas, who possesses firepower comparable to Lara’s.
“Jorge is a unique fighter, but he respects me as a champion and he’s willing to make the adjustments that I ask for,” says Solis, whose older brother (also named Jorge) is a former champion. “I’m able to push him hard enough to bring out the most potential.”
Lara debuted as a pro in July 2010 with an 18-second stoppage of Adrian Soto Morales, the first of four straight knockouts to start his career. Lara also had a sensational debut on American soil in March with a first-round knockout of Mario Macias at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
But where Macias was a 30-year-old journeyman whose loss to Lara was his fifth in a row, the 28-year-old Rojas represents a major step up in competition. Rojas will enter the ring on an 8-0-1 run over his previous nine outings, with five of those victories by knockout.
One thing that could work against Rojas on Tuesday, however, is ring rust. He has been idle since August 2014, when he scored a unanimous decision over Jose Angel Beranza.
Whether Lara can turn Rojas’ extended absence into a tangible advantage remains to be seen. But at least he’s got an experienced ex-fighter in his corner to help him figure it out.
“So many times, you have trainers who never boxed or were not good fighters, but people tell me [Lara and Solis] work together like a well-oiled machine,” says promoter Sampson Lewkowicz. “[Ulises] still has excellent skills and is a great, healthy athlete, so that has definitely helped Jorge.
“I truly feel that we have the right man to pass on that knowledge and desire to be a great Mexican champion.”
For complete coverage of Lara vs Rojas, visit our fight page.