Junior middleweight contenders Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan are still scheduled to meet on November 10 at the Wynn in Las Vegas, whether or not HBO televises the card with the originally scheduled main event between Orlando Salido and Mikey Garcia canceled.
Both fighters are itching for the bout to happen, as it's the final step the winner will have to take before getting a shot at Canelo Alvarez and the WBC junior middleweight title -- or at least, in theory, as it's an eliminator fight for a title opportunity.
Lara's trainer Ronnie Shields, who has worked with Martirosyan in the past, says that his fighter will have the edge, and that Martirosyan will be "outclassed":
"(Martirosyan) still fights the same. Looking at him in his last few fights, I don’t see anything that he’s changed. I don’t see nothing different. ... He’s been winning. That’s the only thing that’s better. But he’s never fought anyone like Erislandy Lara. He’s never fought anyone close to the skills of Erislandy Lara. Vanes is a tough guy, a great fighter, but he’s just going to get outclassed in this fight."
Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KO) was measured in his response, saying that he'll do his talking in the ring, wishes them the best for their camp, and that it will be a great fight. Given that Vanes has never been shy about expressing his thoughts in the past, it's a little surprising to see him lay back so much, but it's not the worst thing. This is a big step up in class for him from the guys he's been fighting recently, and he's got a lot to prove to skeptics with this one. If this means he's focused on the task at hand and not worried about talking, that's good.
Lara (17-1-1, 11 KO) pretty much echoed Martirosyan's thoughts, just saying that "real men fight and don't talk."
For both fighters, this is a big, big opportunity. It has seemed at times like neither promoter -- Top Rank for Vanes, Golden Boy for Lara -- has known what to do with these guys, often sticking them in against overmatched foes, buried on undercards or shows without big audiences. Most recently, Martirosyan trucked club fighter Troy Lowry, and Lara demolished club fighter with famous last name Ronald Hearns. Both of them deserved better than that, and they've got it now.