By Anthony "Zute" George
WBA 154 pound champion Erislandy Lara (23-2-2 (13) defends his title against 9th ranked Yuri Foreman 34-2 (10) Friday night, in Florida. In the United States, it is the first major televised fight in 2017. Most boxing pundits feel being first on the tube will be the only thing special attached to this fight. A cure for insomnia; is what one boxing confidant labeled this boxing match. I am here to tell you it is worth watching.
Foreman, is riding a five-fight winning streak, most notably against the respectable Jamaal Davis. No I am not kidding; if you ever watched Davis fight you know that his skills are not in keeping with his record. Back in 2010, Foreman gave a good account of himself against Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium. While the fight was more memorable for referee Arthur Mercante’s antics; who would not allow Foreman and his team call it quits, Foreman gave a good account of himself against one of the top pugilists of the time, and against dire circumstances.
Joe Grier, Foreman’s trainer, decided Foreman could no longer be competitive against Cotto due to a cranky knee, which became more severe during combat. Dr. Mercante, and all of his medical pedigree, refused to accept that Foreman could not continue, and advised him to move around in a manner where it was less painful. The punches, Dr. Mercante? What about them? Hmm…you are on your own there kid.
The fact that the fight was interesting despite Foreman’s mobility; his bread and butter, was hindered, was overshadowed by Mercante’s buffoonery. To force a guy to continue fighting on one leg was such a reckless decision.
I do not think there was enough made about that behavior, and how detrimental to Foreman it was; both on a physical and psychological level. It took a long time for Yuri Foreman to get back to the big stage. A title shot on American television is as big as it gets.
I predict he will make the most of his chance.
Erislandy Lara is considered one of the top talents in boxing. However, when partaking in a conversation regarding this Cuban pugilist, the content is typically attached to dynamics no boxer would want on their resume. It has been said Floyd Mayweather, Gennady Golovkin and the Charlo Brothers have avoided Lara because he is a high risk, low reward kind of boxer; does not draw, unwatchable. Why bother?
Lara has also been involved in an abundance of disputed decisions. Virtually every boxing pundit felt he beat Paul Williams. It counts as a loss on a record. Boxing is still trying to figure who deserved the decision between Lara and Carlos Molina. Many people felt he bested Saul “Canelo” Alaverz. A rematch has little chance of every occurring. When Lara laces up the gloves the consensus is the fight will go the distance, hard to score, and not be aesthetically pleasing. Lara is too good a talent for that description to be his legacy.
With television dates for boxing dwindling in the United States in 2017, another dismal, confusing, unwatchable boxing match could sink The American Dream further into the abyss that is the boxing business. I believe such a skilled fighter; a man brave enough to defect from Cuba, will rise to the occasion and deliver for the fans on Friday.
Erislandy Lara will take the fight to Yuri Formean, and Yuri Foreman has showed be he is no pushover when pushed. So, get your popcorn ready and be prepared for boxing to get off for a surprisingly entertaining beginning for 2017.