By Joseph Herron — Tonight from the Wynn Las Vegas, HBO Boxing After Dark will broadcast one of the more impactful Junior Middleweight bouts we’ve seen in quite some time.
With an official start time of 9:45PM EST/PST (delayed on the west coast), undefeated Vanes Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KOs) will square off against Cuban exile Erislandy Lara (17-1-1, 11 KOs) for the opportunity to face current WBC Junior Middleweight Champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez sometime in 2013.
Although the superb match-up is finally happening tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada, this battle has been brewing for quite some time. At yesterday’s official weigh-in, tempers flared, and both men got physical while posing for the various media members in attendance.
Erlislandy’s trainer Ronnie Shields had the best seat in the house during last night’s brief altercation between both competing fighters, and he gave Eastsideboxing.com his unique take on what transpired.
“This is what happened. Both fighters were asked to come together and pose for the media and fight fans in attendance,” recollects veteran trainer Ronnie Shields. “Vanes started saying something in English to my fighter, which he didn’t understand. Then Erislandy started saying something in Spanish to Vanes, which he didn’t understand either.”
“Then my fighter shoved Vanes backward, and everyone understood what that meant.”
“This bout has really exploded into a huge event, and the fight is a near sell-out. I think everyone realizes what this fight truly means to both fighters. Not only is it two of the best Junior Middleweight fighters competing for the opportunity to step in the ring with the WBC Champion, Canelo Alvarez, but both fighters want to be big stars in boxing.”
“Both Vanes and Erislandy know that this could be their last opportunity headlining an HBO televised event, so this fight means everything to them. Expect both fighters to put forth their best effort.”
“It’s going to be a war, and I think most fight fans realize that. This is going to be a great, great fight.”
Let’s take a look at the “Tale of the Tape”!
Tale of the Tape
Vanes Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KOs) – “The Nightmare” from Abovyan, Armenia stands 6’0” tall and fights behind a 73” reach. The Los Angeles based boxer/puncher fights out of an orthodox stance and is 26 years of age. Vanes currently trains under the tutelage of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach and formerly trained under Erislandy Lara’s current boxing coach, Ronnie Shields.
After enjoying an incredibly successful amateur career, which claimed victories over Timothy Bradley, Andre Berto, and Austin Trout three times, Vanes became the first Armenian born fighter to ever represent the United States in the Olympics.
Martirosyan fought in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, alongside current Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward and 168 pound contender Andre Dirrell. He finished his amateur career with a brilliant record of 120 wins with only 10 losses.
Although Vanes hasn’t been pitted with many of the top fighters in the packed Junior Middleweight division throughout his eight year pro career, the proficient boxer/puncher remains one of the most highly regarded fighters in his respective weight class and is considered to be one of the most talented young fighters in boxing.
Vanes has very fast hands and fluid footwork. He works behind his jab extremely well and fights proficiently from various distances, predominately from mid to long range. He has plenty of crack to his straight right hand, which has served as the primary weapon behind all twenty of his knock-out victories.
He usually has the handspeed advantage in his fights and intelligently doesn’t give his opposition a very large sample or opening to work with. He shoots his sharp, accurate jab in sporadic intervals, which makes it almost impossible for his opponents to time accurately, and Vanes rarely throws more than three of four punch combinations. This leaves only a small opening for his opposition to counter effectively.
The foundation of Martirosyan’s defense is his footwork, which ranks among the best in the Junior Middleweight division. His ability to move in and out of an opponent’s range, while using effective lateral movement, makes Vanes a very difficult enigma for most fighters in his weight class.
Although Martirosyan has been floored twice previously, the tough Armenian born fighter has never been badly hurt and has shown plenty of resiliency in the ring. Vanes possesses the confidence of an undefeated fighter and the skill set of a humble student.
Erislandy Lara (17-1-1, 11 KOs) – This superb boxer/puncher from Guantanamo, Cuba, stands 5’9” in the ring and works behind a 72 ½” reach. The current Houston, Texas resident fights out of a southpaw stance and is currently trained by veteran trainer Ronnie Shields.
The 29 year old Cuban exile turned pro in 2008 after an extensive amateur background under the strict guidance of the Cuban national program. Lara was a highly decorated Cuban fighter, with his last crowning amateur achievement in the 2007 Pan-Am Games; winning a Gold Medal in the Welterweight division by defeating Demetrius Andrade (9-4) in the final.
The slick southpaw is a complete fighter and an absolute chameleon in the ring. He has shown amazing versatility in fights against formidable opposition within the Junior Middleweight division. Lara can take the lead proficiently and possesses nine first round knock-outs on his resume to prove it.
In gritty performances against Paul Williams and most recently Freddy Hernandez, Erislandy has also shown that he can use the entire ring proficiently while setting traps for his opponents and capitalizing with his straight left hand.
The well-versed fighter has deceptive power in both fists and can fight at various distances adeptly. He fights at odd angles and looks to counter his more aggressive opposition while they’re lunging in with their offensive attack. Lara also fights proficiently on the inside with short compact hooks to the body and head underneath an opponent’s defense.
Although the strong Junior Middleweight fighter owns a controversial loss and a debated draw on his resume, Lara possesses the confidence of an undefeated fighter and truly has the mindset that he can defeat any of the best 154 pound fighters in the world.
Erislandy has a wide arsenal to work with, based on short, compact shots that are explosive and undetected by his opposition. He hides his offensive attack extremely well with his footwork and body positioning and can react very quickly without choreographing his assault.
Keys to Victory
For Vanes Martirosyan to be victorious against his toughest test to date as a professional, He must use lateral movement and explode with only one or two punches at a time. When he was floored by Saul Roman and Kassim Ouma, Vanes overcommitted and let his hands go in combination.
He cannot afford make the same mistake against a very explosive and accurate puncher in Erislandy Lara. He also cannot get comfortable working behind his jab in rhythm. If he uses his jab in a piston-like, regular motion, he will get countered with a straight left hand that he doesn’t see coming right down the middle.
Martirosyan must use the entire ring in this fight and set traps for Erislandy at angles. He must use the jab sporadically and shoot the straight right hand down the middle when Erislandy attempts to cut off the ring.
If he can restrain from letting his hands go on a regular basis, only throwing one or two punches in succession, and remember to shoot the straight right hand down the middle while Erislandy is moving in, Vanes Martirosyan can score his biggest win to date and win the opportunity to face Canelo Alvarez in 2013.
For Erisilandy Lara to be successful tonight against “The Nighmare”, the southpaw fighter has to force the action into close quarters or fight from a distance using angles. He cannot stay at mid-range or he will be eaten alive with straight right hands within Vanes’ wheel house.
He will be the shorter man in the ring, so Erislandy should get low and bait Vanes into lunging in with his offense. If he can make Martirosyan miss from a distance, Lara can catch Vanes falling out of position and into a straight left hand counter.
Vanes likes to use the entire ring, so Lara could be effective by getting low and working his way inside, pressing his taller opponent against the ropes. When inside, Lara should be effective by ripping short, compact hooks to the body and head of Vanes Martirosyan and ought to be able to land at will. Vanes has defensive deficiencies on the inside and could be most vulnerable underneath.
If the Cuban exile can bring the fight to Vanes on the inside or effectively frustrate his opponent by setting traps from a distance, Erislandy Lara could win a ticket to meet Canelo Alvarez next year and fight for the WBC Junior Middleweight title.
Expect these two fighters to put forth their best effort in the ring throughout this impactful WBC title eliminator.
While Vanes is a very proficient fighter with a deep amateur pedigree, I think his inactivity against top level opposition will hurt him early in this fight. Expect Erislandy to hurt Vanes early and often within the first two or three rounds of this fight.
While Lara should see great success early in the bout, expect the tough and resilient Martirosyan to start finding the range for his straight right hand in the mid to late rounds of this intriguing and heated contest.
After tightening up late in the fight, expect fireworks from both fighters and a very dramatic ending that will show Erislandy knocking out the Armenian born fighter in closing seconds of a very entertaining and compelling event.
Erislandy Lara TKO 12 Vanes Martirosyan