Jorge Lara-Claudio Marrero winner takes huge step forward in 126-pound division

Pair of southpaw contenders are both promising fireworks in tomorrow's featherweight showdown on PBC on FOX card in El Paso, Texas.

Jorge Lara and Claudio Marrero meet in a 126-pound bout tomorrow night on PBC on FOX. (Hosanna Rull/Premier Boxing Champions)

Jorge Lara and Claudio Marrero both point to hammer-fisted Puerto Rican Jesus Rojas as a fulcrum for what to expect from tomorrow's 126-pound battle of southpaws on a FOX-televised card (8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT) at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.

Rojas was building momentum in September 2015 when he battled to a six-round technical draw (57-57 three times) with Lara, a fight called before the seventh due to the Mexican’s impaired vision from a cut over his left eye caused by a third-round clash of heads.

Rojas is currently 26-1-2 after his last fight in September, when he registered his 19th knockout via seventh-round stoppage of Marrero off a wicked left hook at the 2:59 mark. “The Matrix” — ahead on the cards with Rojas pinned in a corner — had begun clowning and mugging his opponent.

“There is something to be gained by his loss to our mutual opponent, Jesus Rojas,” said Lara, a 27-year-old from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. “But I never compare myself to other fighters as much as I will fight my own fight in the ring, and you will see how explosive I look in beating Marrero.”

Lara (29-0-2, 21 KOs) pursues his 10th stoppage in 12 fights and his seventh inside of three rounds during that time against Marrero (22-2, 16 KOs), a 29-year-old former champion from the Dominican Republic nicknamed for his abilities to be elusive when he chooses to. 

Marrero aims to pick up where he left off before losing his interim world title to Rojas, who ended his run of eight straight wins, five by knockout, since losing a hard-fought unanimous decision to Jesus Cuellar in an interim championship bout on August 2013.

“I was controlling Rojas and got away from my game plan. I beat myself against Rojas. The biggest lesson I learned from that fight is to remain focused,” said Marrero of Rojas, who followed Marrero’s 90-second knockout in April 2017 that dethroned previously unbeaten interim champion Carlos Zambrano (26-1, 11 KOs) of Lima, Peru.

“I’m sure there will be times when I’ll choose to stand toe-to-toe, but I’ll dictate exactly when that will be, demonstrating why I’m called the Matrix with speed, combinations and movement Lara’s never experienced in the ring before. I’ll be using my lateral movement and boxing abilities to stick and move and control the tempo of the fight. I’ll show Jorge Lara that he’s nowhere near being on my level.”

My message is that I am ready for any of the top tier fighters, but the question after Saturday will be whether or not any of them is ready for a fighter of my caliber, because I’m going to shine for the world. Unbeaten 126-pound contender Jorge Lara

Co-trained by Jason Galarza and Nelson Rodriguez at their base in Orlando, Florida, Marrero’s enlisted southpaw 147-pounder Samuel Figueroa (11-1, 4 KOs) among his sparring partners.

“I’ve been with Claudio since the beginning of his career, and we’re going back to the old school of him boxing and moving around,” said Rodriguez. “He’ll be a slick boxer, not staying in front of Lara. We’ve been working with Figueroa and other fast and strong guys to cover all of the bases.”

Lara and Marrero could impact the stacked and extremely active 126-pound division in the wake of Oscar Valdez’s defending his WBO crown by unanimous decision last month over ex-champ Scott Quigg, and with former titleholders Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire also battling on Saturday.

Also on May 19, left-handed American Gary Russell and England’s Lee Selby defend their WBC and IBF titles against Joseph Diaz and Josh Warrington, and on June 9, WBA king Leo Santa Cruz meets the challenge of Abner Mares in a rematch of Santa Cruz’s majority decision victory in August 2015.

Diaz, Frampton, Donaire and Lara are the top four rated fighters, in order, for Russell’s crown, and Marrero is 11th.

“I mainly have my eye on the winner of Russell-Diaz, but I would gladly fight any one of those champions or boxers,” said Lara, who is trained by 44-year-old former 126-pound champion Alejandro Gonzalez Sr.

“My message is that I am ready for any of the top tier fighters, but the question after Saturday will be whether or not any of them is ready for a fighter of my caliber, because I’m going to shine for the world, showing that I represent a new era of boxing.”

Lara debuted as a pro in July 2010 with an 18-second stoppage of Adrian Soto Morales, the first of four consecutive knockouts, and his sensational debut on American soil in March 2015 was a first-round knockout of Mario Macias at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Lara destroyed Mexican former three-division champ Fernando Montiel in April 2016, scoring four knockdowns during a 95-second first-round knockout.

Nearly 11 months ago in May, Lara ended a 13-month layoff with a third-round stoppage of Mexico’s Mario Briones, dropping him twice in the second round and firing a series of power shots that forced referee Lee Rogers to stop it.

“It was really rewarding and an honor to fight and defeat Montiel, and I’m so excited to finally have another fight of similar magnitude. I’m ready to test my skills against somebody like Marrero,” said Lara.

“This is going to be an amazing performance and my statement to the rest of the division. I don’t care that his other loss was to Cuellar, another southpaw, and it doesn’t matter what he does well or what he’ll try to do differently. Everyone has a game plan until they get hit.”

For a closer look at Lara vs Marrero, check out our fight page.

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