Erislandy Lara handled Greg Vendetti every bit as convincingly Saturday night as their resumes suggested he would.
The 37-year-old Cuban southpaw expertly out-boxed the huge underdog and won their uneventful 12-round, 154-pound championship match by unanimous decision. Judges Carla Caiz (116-112), Lou Moret (117-111) and Zachary Young (117-111) all credited Lara for defeating Vendetti soundly at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Miami’s Lara retained his WBA world super welterweight title by winning the main event of FOX’s three-bout broadcast from Microsoft Theater. The Cuban southpaw was a 50-1 favorite to defeat Vendetti.
Lara (27-3-3, 15 KOs) used his legs more than he had in recent years and mostly prevented Vendetti from getting inside, the only space where the shorter Vendetti could do damage against the crafty champion.
Vendetti (22-4-1, 12 KOs), the WBA’s 11th-ranked contender at 154 pounds, at least went the distance in his first world title fight. In his biggest fight before Saturday night, French contender Michel Soro (35-2-1, 24 KOs) knocked out Vendetti viciously in the second round in December 2018 in Paris.
Lara hadn’t fought in almost exactly a year before going the distance Saturday night. His previous bout lasted less than two rounds because he blew out overmatched Mexican veteran Ramon Alvarez (28-8-3, 16 KOs, 1 NC) in another fight FOX aired last August 31 from The Armory in Minneapolis.
The 30-year-old Vendetti ended an even longer layoff than Lara. The Wakefield, Massachusetts, resident hadn’t fought since out-pointing New Jersey’s Michael Anderson (18-3-1, 12 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-rounder in July 2019 in Everett, Massachusetts.
Lara landed a straight left hand 1:10 into the 11th round. Way ahead on points, Lara continued to control the action and remained out of danger by side-stepping Vendetti as he attempted to work his way inside.
A right-left combination by Lara stopped Vendetti in his tracks with 1:10 to in the 10th round.
Vendetti backed Lara into the ropes 1:15 into the ninth round, but he couldn’t capitalize on briefly slowing down the heavily favored fighter. Lara immediately went back to moving and pumping his jab.
A left uppercut and right hook by Lara landed early in the eighth round. Vendetti couldn’t land anything flush on Lara in that round.
Lara nailed Vendetti with a right uppercut that made Vendetti take a step back just after the halfway point of the seventh round. Lara landed a left uppercut on the inside about a minute later.
Lara made Vendetti pay in the sixth round for bulling his way forward by landing several left hands.
Lara largely kept his distance during the fifth round, worked off his jab and prevented Vendetti from working his way inside.
A straight left hand by Lara made Vendetti take an awkward step 23 seconds into the fourth round. Lara later snapped back Vendetti’s head with a stiff jab at 1:05 of the fourth round.
Vendetti snuck a right hand around Lara’s guard just before the fourth round ended.
Cantu warned Vendetti for leading with his head at about the 1:40 mark of the third round. Lara kept his distance from Vendetti for much of the that round and occasionally landed left hands.
Lara invited Vendetti to fight inside in the middle minute of the second round. Vendetti obliged by landing a left hook as Lara backed into a corner.
Lara quickly spun out of that corner to avoid Vendetti following up on that shot.
Lara landed a left hand early in the first round that made Vendetti reset his feet. Lara nailed Vendetti with a left uppercut later in that opening round.
Vendetti tried to work his way inside throughout that first round, but couldn’t land anything significant.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.