IBO Jr. Middleweight world champion Erislandy Lara successfully made the first defense of his world title with a dominant third round stoppage of former IBF Welterweight world champion Jan Zaveck on Wednesday night at Hialeah Park Racing and Casino in Hialeah, FL. A fight card that was significantly impacted by rain and caused a delay of the fight, Lara wasted no time in his bout against Zaveck once the green light was given for the bout to take place.
Lara began this fight fighting in the pocket and not using as much lateral movement as is usually his norm, perhaps due to the condition of the ring canvas that was covered with a tarp during the weather delay. Lara’s accurate counter punching and hand speed were simply too much for Zaveck, who was staggered by a straight left hand midway through the first round.
Lara continued picking his spots in the second round throwing and landing his punches in between Zaveck’s wide punches. Lara would stagger Zaveck for the second time with a straight left hand in the closing seconds of round two.
A combination by Lara early in round three would cause Zaveck to momentarily extend his hand as if he wanted to touch gloves with Lara before turning his back as Lara continued to throw punches causing Referee Telis Assimenios to step in and stop the fight. It was revealed shortly after the fight that Zaveck had said that a punch from Lara to the right side of his neck caused a spasm in his shoulder. Official time of the stoppage was :41 of round three.
Erislandy Lara advances to 22-2-2, with 13 Knockouts. Jan Zaveck falls to 35-4, with 19 Knockouts.
Also on this card undefeated rising Bantamweight prospect Manny Rodriguez scored a seventh round stoppage over Eliezer Aquino. Rodriguez was in control of this fight from the opening bell with his combination punching and not allowing Aquino to get on the inside where he could land offense. As the fight progressed rain resumed, but it did not prevent Rodriguez from continuing to dominate the combat or the fight from continuing.
In the third round Rodriguez would score a knockdown of Aquino with a right hand. Aquino was penalized a point in round seven for spitting out his mouth piece. The fight would be stopped later in the round by Referee Sam Burgos. Official time of the stoppage was 2:44 of round three.
Manny Rodriguez advances to 14-0, with 10 Knockouts. Eliezer Aquino falls to 17-2-1, with 11 Knockouts.
In the Jr. Middleweight division Daquan Arnett scored a first round knockout of former Olympic Silver medalist Yudel Jhonson. A right hand from Arnett staggered Jhonson and a follow-up combination sent Jhonson to the canvas midway through round one. A right hand from Arnett sent Jhonson to the canvas for the second time later in the round. Jhonson was able to beat the count, but got up on unsteady legs prompting Referee James Warring to stop the fight. Official time of the stoppage was 2:47 of round one.
Daquan Arnett advances to 15-1, with 9 Knockouts. Yudel Jhonson falls to 17-3, with 9 Knockouts.
In other bouts:
Heavyweight John Nofire (19-0, with 15 Knockouts) KO1 over Yasmany Consuegra (17-3, with 14 Knockouts) Official time 2:59 of round one.
Jr. Welterweight Jose Quezada (9-0, with 6 Knockouts) TKO 2 over Daniel Lorenzana (4-7-1, with 2 Knockouts) No official time available as of this writing.
Welterweight Jeff Souffrant (2-1, with 0 Knockouts) UD 4 over Gregory Moore (1-1, with 0 Knockouts) No official scores available as of this writing.
For Erislandy Lara, who won the vacant IBO Jr. Middleweight world championship back in June of this year with a twelve round unanimous decision over Delvin Rodriguez, his victory over Jan Zaveck was a statement making performance in a division heading towards transition. Lara also still holds interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Jr. Middleweight ratings.
Readers might recall my coverage of Lara’s victory over Rodriguez when I stated that Lara could be named full WBA champion, as Floyd Mayweather at the time had announced his intention to relinquish the world championships he held in both the Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight divisions. Mayweather has since retired from active competition following his victory over Andre Berto in September of this year. Despite Mayweather’s retirement, he is still as of this writing recognized as WBA Jr. Middleweight world champion.
It will be interesting to see whether the World Boxing Association (WBA) will name Lara full WBA champion before the end of 2015. If Lara is indeed designated full WBA champion as fighters who hold interim/regular status are normally designated in the event of a champion either relinquishing the championship or being stripped of it, Lara will become a unified world champion in the Jr. Middleweight division.
Although Lara’s fight with Rodriguez was not advertised as being for the International Boxing Organization’s (IBO) Jr. Middleweight world championship, it will be interesting to see whether the organization will mandate Lara to face a top contender in its Jr. Middleweight ratings. Current IBO number one contender Saul Alvarez successfully moved up in weight last week and defeated Miguel Cotto for the vacant WBC Middleweight world championship.
Lara, who lost to Alvarez in a razor thin split decision in July of last year would likely entertain the possibility of a rematch if the opportunity for one is made available. This observer believes it may be more likely that Alvarez will defend his Middleweight world championship in a unification bout with undefeated unified WBA/IBO Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin in the near future rather than seek a rematch at this point against Lara.
For the moment as one of three active world champions currently in the Jr. Middleweight division, Erislandy Lara has made a strong argument for himself as being the number one Jr. Middleweight in the world. How the division landscape will play out following Floyd Mayweather’s retirement remains to be seen.
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