By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Terrell Gausha realizes that even many hardcore fight fans aren’t all that familiar with him.
The 2012 Olympian from Cleveland hasn’t fought a top 154-pound opponent during his five-year pro career and mostly has competed in non-televised fights. Those are among the reasons Gausha has been widely written off as an overmatched opponent entering the biggest fight of his life against Erislandy Lara.
The unbeaten Gausha has tried to avoid paying attention to his supposed role in their “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Whatever is being said and written about him, the Los Angeles resident is confident he’ll knock off the heavily favored Lara in their 12-round fight for Lara’s WBA and IBO super welterweight titles.
“I feel like I can beat any fighter,” Gausha told BoxingScene.com. “But it’s a difficult task because he’s crafty, he’s got a lot of experience, he’s been on this stage before. I feel like he’s an accomplished champion, but I feel like I can beat him. Once I beat him, then that’ll tell you about my skills.”
The 30-year-old Gausha doesn’t know if Lara has overlooked him the way he senses many fans and media have dismissed him.
“I’m not sure,” Gausha said. “I would love it if he is [overlooking me], because that’s better for me. Once you underestimate a fighter like me and you actually get in the ring and get hit with one of these punches, you’ll learn respect.”
Gausha (20-0, 9 KOs), ranked No. 6 by the WBA, has won five of his past six bouts by decision. He last fought February 10, when he topped Puerto Rico’s Luis Hernandez (16-5, 9 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder in Toledo, Ohio.
The 34-year-old Lara (24-2-2, 14 KOs), who has lost only a pair of debatable decisions to Canelo Alvarez and Paul Williams, is considered a steep step up in competition for Gausha.
“To be honest, it’s a lot of motivation,” Gausha said. “Just people overlooking me and talking about other fights when he hasn’t even fought me yet, they’re already counting me out. So everything is working in my favor because I’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose.”
Before Lara-Gausha, Showtime will air two other 154-pound championship matches Saturday night (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
In the opening bout, Jarrett Hurd (20-0, 14 KOs), of Accokeek, Maryland, will make the first defense of his IBF junior middleweight title against Austin Trout (30-3, 17 KOs), of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Following Hurd-Trout, Houston’s Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) is set to defend his WBC super welterweight title against mandatory challenger Erickson Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs), of Orlando, Florida.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.