Neither Erislandy Lara nor with Vanes Martirosyan were satisfied with the result of their first fight in November 2012, a foul-filled match that ended in a ninth-round technical draw after an accidental headbutt caused a deep cut under Martirosyan's left eye.
Their rematch wasn’t any cleaner, but at least this time, there was a more natural conclusion—and a clear-cut winner.
Erislandy Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs) overcame a slow start and a nasty welt on his forehead, using his superior boxing skills and defense to retain his 154-pound title with a unanimous decision over Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Lara prevailed by scores of 115-112 and 116-111 twice.
Martirosyan’s early body attack—including stinging double-lefts to the liver—won him three of the first four rounds. But then Lara come on strong, using lead, straight and counter left hands to gain distance against the challenger.
As was the case in their first meeting, there were numerous head clashes throughout the contest, one of which led to the nasty hematoma on Lara’s head. The 33-year-old southpaw also was on the receiving end of a couple of low blows as ruled by referee Vic Drakulich.
Although the second low blow appeared to be right on Lara’s belt line, Drakulich paused the action and deducted a point from Martirosyan.
“This is normal. This is boxing, not baseball. Low blows and headbutts happen,” said Lara, who successfully made the fifth defense of a title won by 10th-round TKO of Alfredo Angulo in June 2013. “I’m a very intelligent fighter, and at no point did I feel this fight was going to be lost.”
Drakulich’s penalty clearly angered Martirosyan, who was demonstrative in the ring that he didn’t hit Lara low, which he reiterated after the bout.
“That was not a low blow. Replays showed the trunks were high,” said Martirosyan, who was so put off by Lara’s frequent backpedaling that he mocked the champion by pretending to run in the 12th round. “I was chasing him all night. I put on the pressure. I thought I did enough to win.”
Lara improved to 6-1—including four consecutive victories—since his first match with Martirosyan by outlanding the Armenia-born fighter 162-94 overall, with a 99-78 advantage in power shots. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Martirosyan has now dropped two of his last three fights and is 4-3 since his first clash with Lara.
“Nobody wanted to fight Lara, and I stepped up to it and I’ll fight him again right now,” said Martirosyan, who hails from Southern California. “I’m a fighter, and whenever they give me the call, I’m ready to go. I’ve never ducked anybody.”
After dispatching Martirosyan, Lara was asked what’s next on his agenda, and he mentioned his desire for yet another rematch—this one against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, a world champion who defeated Lara by disputed split decision in a non-title 154-pound contest in July 2014.
“I’m ready to fight anybody. I’d like to fight Canelo,” Lara said.
Whoever his next opponent ends up being, Lara definitely has a location in mind: With improved diplomatic relations between the United States and his native Cuba, the man nicknamed “The American Dream” said he would relish the chance to take a fight in the country from which he defected on a boat in 2008.
“My mother and kids are still there, so it would be a great privilege to fight in my native Cuba,” he said. “Everything is possible in this world. I didn’t think I’d be champion of the world, and here I am.”
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