By Chris Robinson
On Friday night at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, once-beaten junior middleweight contender Erislandy Lara scored a destructive 1st round TKO over former title challenger Ronald Hearns.
A stout left hand from Lara in the opening minute leveled Hearns, who was in dire straits from that point forward. Two more knockdowns from Lara would follow and referee Keith Hughes wisely waved the fight off at 1:34 into the opening frame.
The fight marked Lara’s return to the ring after his dubious unanimous decision loss to Paul Williams this past July and he left nothing on the table in preparation for Hearns.
“We’ve been training four months real hard for this fight and our mind was to get this guy out within five rounds,” Lara stated after the fight through his manager Luis DeCubas Jr. “We were going to go at him hard from the first round. I hit him on the chin and knocked him out.”
Asked if he knew the fight was over after the first knockdown, there was little doubt coming from the Cuban southpaw.
“100%. I felt my knuckles go right through his face,” Lara said. “I hit him flush and I haven’t hit somebody like that in a while. I knew the fight was over. There was no way he was going to get out of the round.”
Lara is ranked #3 by the WBC but has no hopes in landing a fight with the organization’s champion, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Matter of fact, the 29-year is instead eyeing a move up in weight for the biggest opportunity of his career.
“I don’t want 154, I want Sergio Martinez,” said Lara of the man regarded as the world’s best middleweight. “He’s the best fighter in the world at 160 pounds. That’s who I want, I want Sergio Martinez. I know that no one, no [James] Kirkland, not ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, nobody at 154 is going to fight us especially after the way we looked tonight. You know what? We want Sergio Martinez, the toughest fight out there.”
Lara’s respect for the Argentinean is obvious but he can’t see anything but a knockout in his favor.
“Martinez is a great fighter. He has a funky style but I believe I have the tools to beat him, the speed, the athleticism, and the power. If Martinez gives me that opportunity, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would stop Martinez," said Lara.