Former 154-pound world champion Erislandy Lara seeks to return to the championship ranks when the Cuban boxer challenges undefeated contender Brian Castaño for his WBA Super Welterweight title on Saturday, March 2 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Showtime Championship Boxing coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features another Cuban star in heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz as he clashes with Christian Hammer in a 10-round co-featured bout. In the opening bout of the tripleheader, hard-hitting Ricardo Núñez takes on rugged veteran Edner Cherry in a 12-round super featherweight opener.
Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) was the longest reigning 154-pound champion until he lost a split decision to Jarrett Hurd on April 7 in a unification bout. Now the 39-year-old Lara, who was born in Guantanamo, Cuba and lives in Houston, looks to grab a title and once again stake his claim as one of the division’s best. He has one of the strongest resumes in the division, having fought Hurd and former 154-pound champions Canelo Alvarez and Austin Trout.
"I’m very excited to be back headlining Showtime in another major fight," said Lara. "Brian Castaño is a young undefeated champion with a strong amateur pedigree. I look forward to being in the ring with him and putting on a great fight for the fans. I can’t wait to being crowned world champion again. Everyone tune in March 2nd, you don’t want to miss the whole card, it’s going to be sensational."
The 29-year-old Castaño (15-0, 11 KOs) has worked his way up the ladder in one of the toughest divisions in boxing with raw power and toughness. Castaño, who is from Buenos Aires, fits well into the mold of the Argentine sluggers before him - such as former champions Carlos Monzon, Sergio Martinez and Marcos Maidana. He will battle Lara after wins against Michel Soro in 2017, where he captured the interim 154-pound, and Cedric Vitu in 2018, where he captured the belt he will defend on March 2.
"I’m thrilled to be facing Lara as he was a great champion and still one of the best fighters out there," said Castaño. "Obviously this is the most important fight of my career and I know it will be difficult because of his experience. I have my own experience however, and I’m willing to prove that I belong with the best tin the division. I know he will get onto his bike and move around the ring, but I have the strength to knock him off."
’King Kong’ returns to New York on March 2 as Ortiz (30-1, 26 KOs), a southpaw power puncher, enters the ring with two solid knockout victories under his belt since losing to WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder at Barclays Center last March. The 39-year-old Ortiz, who is from Camaguey, Cuba and now lives in Miami, Florida, is still considered one of the top five heavyweights in the division. He most recently scored a knockout victory over Travis Kauffman on December 1.
"’King Kong’ is coming back to Brooklyn!" said Ortiz. "I’m very excited to be back on Showtime in a huge event at Barclays Center. Christian Hammer is a very good fighter and I will be prepared for the best he has to offer. Come March 2, I’m hammering my way past him and setting up a clash with the winner of Wilder-Fury II or Anthony Joshua. I can’t wait till Brooklyn.’’
Hammer (24-5, 14 KOs) has dueled some of the top heavyweights in the sport, including Tyson Fury and Alexander Povetkin. The 31-year-old Hammer, who was born in Galati, Romania and lives in Hamburg, Germany, has put together two victories since he lost a unanimous decision to Povetkin in 2017. In his last fight he scored a KO victory over then-unbeaten Michael Wallisch on December 15.
"I’ve been in training since right after Christmas for this big opportunity," said Hammer. "I won my last fight by knockout, but I’m preparing for 12 hard rounds against Ortiz. A fight like this in New York is very special to me. This is the reason I became a boxer. The fans can look forward to a real heavyweight thriller on March 2."