“The American Dream” turned out to be an absolute nightmare for former champion Yuri Foreman on Friday night.
Making good on his promise of a quick finish, 154-pound world champion Erislandy Lara (24-2-2, 14 KOs) thoroughly outboxed Yuri Foreman (34-3, 10 KOs) for three rounds before registering a fourth-round knockout at Miami’s Hialeah Park Racing & Casino.
In picking up his fifth straight victory—and just his second stoppage win in 3½ years—Lara successfully defended his title for a fifth time. It was also the Cuban southpaw’s second victory at Hialeah Park, site of his last knockout (a third-round TKO of ex-champion Jan Zaveck in November 2015).
“I love fighting in Miami in front of all my Cuban fans,” said Lara, who prior to the fight vowed to stop Foreman within six rounds. “The fans here bring out the best in me, and I always have a good night of boxing.
“I want to dedicate this fight to [my manager’s father] Luis DeCubas Sr., who has helped me throughout my career and whose birthday is today.”
Despite giving up two inches to the 5-foot-11 Foreman, Lara stalked the onetime 154-pound titleholder, who alternately jumped in and out from distance but managed to only land an occasional jab and right hand over the champion’s right jab.
After a tentative first round, Lara picked up the pace in the second, with a pair of stiff, straight lefts bobbling the challenger’s head near the end of the stanza.
Lara then gained a dubious knockdown in Round 3 when referee Samuel Burgos ruled that Foreman hit the canvas from a double-straight left to the chin, even though TV replays showed the fall was actually the result of the fighters’ legs getting entangled.
There would be no questioning the blow that ended the fight, however.
As Foreman walked in and missed with a punch, Lara ripped a pinpoint counter left uppercut that first hit Foreman square in the chest before connecting flush on his chin.
Foreman immediately dropped to all fours, and although he tried several times to get to his feet, his legs wouldn’t cooperate. By the time Foreman finally got upright, it was too late, as Burgos reached the count of 10, with the official end coming at the 1:47 mark.
“I'm very happy with my performance tonight,” Lara said. “[Foreman] was a little bit awkward, so I had to make some adjustments, and we got him out of there.”
A 36-year-old ordained rabbi who ended a two-year ring hiatus in December 2015, Foreman entered Friday’s fight on a six-fight winning streak. He left, however, with his third career defeat, all by stoppage, with this being the swiftest finish of them all.
Afterward, he acknowledged he ran into a solid shot from Lara.
“Of course I’m disappointed, but this is boxing. I got caught with a perfect punch and that's what happens,” said Foreman, who hadn’t fought since a second-round stoppage of Jason Davis in early June. “I tried very hard to shake it off, but he got me.
“I have been hit harder in my career, but I take nothing away from him. He’s a very strong puncher in his prime, and I give him credit. He was as good as I expected him to be.”
As for what’s next for Lara, he hopes to move on to a marquee fight, be it a unification rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) or a bout with left-handed former 154-pound titleholder Demetrius Andrade (23-0, 16 KOs). He’s also hinted at a move up to 160 pounds if he can arrange a showdown with unified titleholder Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs).
“I'm ready to fight the best in the world—Golovkin, Canelo,” said Lara, whose last defeat was to Alvarez, a disputed split decision in a non-title bout in July 2014. “Whoever is willing to step in the ring with me, I’m willing to fight.”
For complete pre- and post-fight coverage of Lara vs Foreman, bounce over to our fight page.
Dirrell punishes Nemesapati, earns sixth-round TKO
In Friday’s co-main event, former 168-pound world champion Anthony Dirrell (30-1-1, 24 KOs) outgunned, outmuscled and battered a smaller, shorter and slower Norbert Nemesapati (24-5, 17 KOs) of Hungary, winning by sixth-round TKO.
The 6-foot-2 Dirrell walked through the punches of his game 21-year-old opponent all night, rocking the 5-foot-11 Nemesapati backward with right uppercuts and brutalizing his body with both hands.
Before the start of the seventh round, Nemesapati’s corner asked referee James Warring to end matters, as well as the loser’s three-fight winning streak. That gave Dirrell his third straight win and second consecutive stoppage since he lost his title to Badou Jack by majority decision in April 2015.
“[Nemesapati] was a tough guy. I give him credit,” Dirrell said. “But I put on a boxing clinic, and that's what I had to do to win this fight.
“He wanted to brawl, but I just showed my skills and let the damage pile up.”
A 32-year-old native of Flint, Michigan, Dirrell was coming off a first-round stoppage of Caleb Truax in Atlantic City in April that followed a 10-round unanimous decision over Marco Antonio Rubio in September 2015.
Dirrell plans to travel to Brooklyn, New York, and be ringside for Saturday night’s 168-pound title unification bout between Badou Jack and James DeGale, hopeful that he’ll get a crack at the winner.
“I want a world title shot now,” he said. “I want my title back. I think I deserve it. I put on a good boxing show tonight, and I deserve another shot.”
In other televised action, left-handed former 118-pound champion Juan Carlos Payano (18-1, 9 KOs), a Dominican living in Miami, rebounded from his first career loss with a seventh-round TKO of Isao Gonzalo Carranza (15-8-1, 9 KOs) of Mexico. Warring stopped the fight at the 1:16 mark.