by David P. Greisman
BoxingScene.com: What were your thoughts on Erislandy Lara’s performance June 30 against Freddy Hernandez? Some people expected Lara to blow Hernandez away, but instead Lara boxed his way to a unanimous decision.
Ronnie Shields: “I thought Erislandy fought a great fight. Look, the thing that people don’t understand is we took the fight on three and a half week’s notice. That’s not a whole lot to prepare for a guy, but the other guy was in the same situation we were. But at the same time, Freddy Hernandez was a guy who was too big for welterweight, so he had to move up to 154. And look, he won a big fight at 154 [over Luis Collazo], so you can’t say that he was a guy who we were just supposed to just run over.
“He had problems making 147 for Andre Berto. And people say, ‘Oh, Berto hit him with one shot and knocked him out. Understand: My guy Erislandy Lara is not known for being a knockout kind of guy. I don’t know where that comes from. I guess because he knocked out Ronald Hearns, people think he’s supposed to knock everybody out. But that’s not the case in this game. My guy’s a boxer. Simple as that. And he put on a boxing display when he fought Freddy Hernandez.
“Come on, man. This fight wasn’t nearly as close as [judge David] Denkin had it, 95-94. That was pitiful. This guy needs to retire from judging, because I don’t know what fight he was watching. Lara just ate him up. He beat the man up bad. Although the guy’s corner kept telling him to do these dirty tricks and this and that. California can go and look at the tape and see what the guy’s corner was telling him to do, and suspend this guy, because boxing doesn’t need that dirty stuff, man”
BoxingScene.com: There was some dirty stuff from your guy, too. We saw a couple head butts…
Shields: “Well, he was only doing what the other guy was doing. The guy was hitting him low, hitting him with elbows, hitting him behind the head. Come on, man. If you look at the fight, you’ll see all the stuff that this guy was doing. He [Lara] got pissed off. And I didn’t blame my guy. I just had to calm him down and tell him to keep his head. And once he did that, he beat the hell out of the guy. Simple as that.”
BoxingScene.com: So do you know what’s going to happen next? Obviously everyone had been talking about Canelo Alvarez and who he was going to fight, but the one name we never heard mentioned as being in the running was your guy’s name.
Shields: “Well, they keep saying that it’s [because of] Canelo Alvarez. Look, Canelo’s a fighter. There’s no way in the world that this guy don’t want to fight Lara or anybody else. I think his management and promoter, they’re doing their job — they’re protecting their fighter. You can’t be mad at that. But at the same time, this guy is champion of the world. When you’re a champion, you have to be ready for everybody. Nowadays they’re picking their spots, which is crazy. This is the boxing game. You’re supposed to fight the next available contender for your belt, and that is Erislandy Lara. But they don’t want him to fight him.
“Now I just read that we’re supposed to meet Vanes [Martirosyan]. The WBC ordered Vanes and Lara again. What makes you think Vanes is going to sign the contract this time? He’s talking like he wants to sign it, but come on, until you sign it, it means nothing. Look, my guy wants to fight. Simple as that. It doesn’t matter who he fights. As long as there’s a 154-pound guy out there that wants to fight, Erislandy Lara is available.”
BoxingScene.com: I saw it mentioned in an article that there could be a tournament among some of the top guys at 154. Have you heard anything about whether that could be going forward with Erislandy?
Shields: “Well, I’ve been reading the same thing, but I said a tournament doesn’t make sense unless all the champions are involved. That way you get to have one champion. I think you go with the four champions and the four highest-rated contenders. Simple. And you let them square off and go at it, and then you have one champion in the division. Otherwise, what sense does it make to have a tournament? If you have a tournament with no champions, what do you have? You have four fights. That doesn’t make sense.”
BoxingScene.com: So you’re in favor, though, of a Vanes fight if Vanes does sign for it?
Shields: “Of course. Yes, absolutely. Without a doubt.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think of Vanes as a fighter?
Shields: “I think Vanes is a very good fighter. He is one of the top junior middleweights in the world. So if we can’t get a champion, then why not fight one of the top junior middleweights in the world? It makes sense to us.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you see as Vanes’ weaknesses that Erislandy could possibly exploit?
Shields: “A lot. I trained Vanes before, so I know. And I don’t see much difference in what he’s doing now than he did then. He has a lot of flaws, and I know what they are. And trust me, we’re going to be able to exploit them if he signs a contract.”
BoxingScene.com: Are you going to tell us what some of those flaws are, or are you keeping that a secret?
Shields: “I got to keep it a secret right now, because he might get brave and might sign.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve got a new edition to Erislandy’s camp in adviser Al Haymon. How do you see Haymon helping his career?
Shields: “Al Haymon knows the boxing business, and he gets a lot done. I think it’s a great decision for Team Lara. I think with Al on board, things will get done now. I don’t think we’re going to have to go out really looking for fights and having to take fights that don’t mean anything. Lara is a guy who wants to fight the best fighters in the world. I think Al has a lot of clout now and he can make that happen. So I think it’s a big plus that he’s involved with Erislandy Lara.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]