by David P. Greisman, photo by Ryan Hafey/PBC

Erislandy Lara is used to being the boxer. He might have to be something he’s not used to being when he defends his junior middleweight world title on Friday night in Florida on Spike TV.

“It’s been a long time, probably since the beginning of his career, that he fought somebody who actually moves away from him,” Ronnie Shields, who trains Lara, told “We have to prepare a different way this time. We don’t know what Yuri Foreman is going to do. He may come out and start running, and we have to cut him off and do the opposite of what he’s been doing for a very long time.”

Foreman, who briefly held a title at 154 pounds himself for seven months between 2009 and 2010, doesn’t carry much power. He is 34-2 with 10 knockouts.

A reign that began with Foreman outboxing Daniel Santos ended in his first defense, with Miguel Cotto pummeling Foreman, whose knee went out along the way.

“I always thought he was a good boxer, a guy with a lot of heart,” Shields said. “You know he has a lot of heart, the way he fought Cotto with a bum leg.”

Foreman subsequently suffered a sixth-round stoppage to Pawel Wolak in 2011, took nearly two years off from the sport, and came back with four fights in 2013. He didn’t fight at all in 2014, returned with a win in December 2015 and another last June. He’s now 36, and even when he was younger he was not anywhere near Lara’s level.

Shields said it was still worth it, though, for Lara to take this fight even though Foreman is far from a top opponent.

“Erislandy fought just one time last year,” Shields said, referencing a June decision in a rematch with Vanes Martirosyan that brought the 33-year-old’s record to 23-2-2 with 13 KOs. “So they called me up and said, ‘What about Yuri Foreman?’ It doesn’t make a difference to me. We haven’t fought. Let’s do it.”

And they can’t take Foreman lightly, he said.

“We got to prepare for the best guy,” Shields said. “Yuri Foreman is in a great position. He has nothing to lose. Lara has everything to lose.”

Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at or internationally at Send questions/comments via email at