By Lem Satterfield
Cuban southpaw Erislandy Lara called Canelo Alvarez a “better fighter” than Jarrett Hurd, gave the nod to Jermall Charlo over Gennady Golovkin in a 160-pound clash, and insisted he deserved the verdict in each of his split-decision losses to Alvarez and Hurd during a recent interview with BoxingScene.com.
Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) outworked and out-landed Alvarez (50-1-2, 35 KOs) during a non-title split-decision loss in July 2014, and won his next six fights (two by knockout) before being floored in the final round by Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs), who added Lara’s WBA “super” world championship to his IBF version in April.
The “American Dream” shares trainer Ronnie Shields at the Houston-area Plex Boxing Gym with Charlo (28-0, 21 KOs), the WBC interim champion who, like Lara, has called out Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs).
Lara looks to rebound from his loss to Hurd in “a must-win fight” against Argentina’s WBA “regular” 154-pound champion Brian Carlos Castano (15-0, 11 KOs) in an early spring bout confirmed to be in the works by their respective mangers, Sebastian Contursi and Luis DeCubas Jr.
“I have made some minor adjustments [since the Hurd fight,]” said Lara, 35, of his preparation for Castano, who is coming off a 12th-round TKO of southpaw Cedric Vitu for his second defense in March. “But nothing drastic because my style will be a problem for any fighter walking this planet, including GGG [Golovkin].”
The 28-year-old Alvarez dethroned the 36-year-old Golovkin as WBA/WBC middleweight champion by majority decision in September’s rematch of their draw in September 2017. Last month, Alvarez earned his third crown in as many divisions with a four-knockdown, third-round KO to dethrone WBA “regular” 168-pound champion Rocky Fielding (27-2, 15 KOs) while retaining his 160-pound titles.
Last month, the 28-year-old Hurd won his third defense by fourth-round knockout over England’s Jason Welborn (24-7, 7 KOs), representing his eighth stoppage in nine fights following his victory over Lara.
Over the past few months Hurd has boasted about being able to rise in weight and dethrone Charlo as well as Alvarez and Golovkin.
“Canelo was once at 154, also, so size wouldn’t be a factor,” said Hurd during a recent interview with BoxingScene.com. “I feel like I would be the bigger fighter against Canelo that night.”
Lara appeared to give Alvarez the edge over Hurd.
“They have two different styles but I still would have to say Canelo has more talent and is the better fighter. But Hurd is no joke, he has a tremendous motor, he keeps coming,” said Lara, who stated “I feel I clearly won my fight against Hurd" during an earlier BoxingScene.com interview.
“I clearly beat Canelo, and everyone knows that. I was the superior boxer in the fight and landed more punches. The look on [Alvarez’s] face after the fight was one of a defeated fighter. I’ve since moved on from that bad decision, but in my heart I know I won that fight."
The 6-foot-1 Charlo called out Alvarez and Golovkin last month following his initial defense and unanimous decision over southpaw Matt Korobov (28-2, 14 KOs) of Russia, despite failing to earn his fourth straight stoppage and 20th knockout in his past 22 fights.
“That dude [Korobov] was tough," said Charlo, 28, nicknamed "“Hit Man,” after defeating Korobov. "He had a similar style to Triple-G besides [being] southpaw. It was like a setup fight for a Golovkin fight.”
Switch-hitting two-time and current IBF 160-pound titleholder Daniel Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) lost a narrow unanimous decision to Golovkin in a title unification in March 2017.
Jacobs ended 23-fight, nine-year stoppage streak by Triple-G, who was mandated by the WBC to face Charlo after losing to Alvarez.
“I would favor Charlo [over Golovkin,] being that he is the younger fighter,” said Lara. “GGG still has a lot left in the tank, but he’s getting older.”
Asked if Charlo, Alvarez or Golovkin were avoiding one another, Lara said, “No, not at all,” adding he believes network associations could be an issue in negotiations.
“Fighters don’t avoid other fighters,” said Lara. “It’s the politics that determine that.”
While Golovkin is a network free agent, Alvarez has signed a $365 million multi-fight deal with the streaming service DAZN, and Charlo is advised by Al Haymon, whose Haymon Boxing's Premier Boxing Champions has three- and four-year deals with Showtime and FOX.
Meanwhile, Lara's enjoying "The American Dream" his nickname suggests, having defected from Cuba in 2008 among 35 passengers on a speedboat navigating the Yucatán Channel, a 135-mile strait between Cuba and Mexico.
Lara reached Cancun and was transported to Hamburg, Germany, where the 2005 amateur world champion signed with promoter Ahmet Öner, who had helped to arrange Lara’s passage.
"I own a beautiful home in Houston," said Lara, whose initial defection attempt failed in 2007. "My kids go to the best schools and I’m investing wisely with my money. I have everything I could possibly want as an American citizen. I’m truly living the American dream."