By Elisinio Castillo
On April 7th, WBA/IBO junior middleweight champion Erislandy Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs) will take his first step in unifying the division when he faces IBF world champion Jarrett Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs).
Lara and his handlers are hoping the contest will lead to a showdown with WBC world champion Jermell Charlo.
In October, a Showtime televised tripleheader took place with Hurd, Lara and Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs) making defenses at at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
All three fights were set up by Showtime as the starting point in an unofficial tournament at 154-pounds.
On the card, Hurd became the first man to stop former junior middleweight champion Austin Trout, while Lara dominated previously undefeated United States Olympian Terrell Gausha, and Charlo barely needed a round to eliminate previously unbeaten mandatory challenger Erickson Lubin with a shocking one punch knockout.
Charlo is scheduled to make his next world title defense on June 9 in Los Angeles, California. That will be headlined by a featherweight clash between champions Leo Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs) and Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs).
According to Lara's manager, Luis DeCubas Jr., the contest with Hurd is the first step - leading to a showdown with Charlo for all the marbles.
Lara and Charlo were at one-time training mates when they were both handled by veteran coach Ronnie Shields. Charlo departed from Shields' stable, while his twin brother and unbeaten middleweight Jermall Charlo is still working with the Texas-based coach.
Beating Hurd will be no easy task, but Lara wanted an opponent who comes forward all night and never stops throwing of punches.
"This [fight with Hurd] is the first step for Lara to have the possibility of getting all the titles in the division," DeCubas Jr. told George Ebro.
"If he manages to overtake Hurd, and I'm confident he will, then everything would be ready to go after Charlo's title."