Erislandy Lara will be taking on Jan Zaveck tonight on an PBC on ESPN card, and while stating that he's not looking past Zaveck, he is anticipating big things for the upcoming year. In particular, Lara says that in 2016 he wants to fight the very best fighters out there. And one of the "big things" we could expect may be a move up to the middleweight division for the right fight, according to manager Luis DeCubas Jr.
"Lara is the type of guy where he doesn't need to move up for a tune-up," DeCubas said. "We don't have to get used to the weight. We want a big fight and if we move up, we'll fight [a big name] in the first fight."
So when you're talking about a big name in the middleweight division, you're pretty much talking Gennady Golovkin, who is the face of 160lbs. But DeCubas also mentions throws out the names of Canelo Alvarez and the winner of Daniel Jacobs vs. Peter Quillin. Lara believes he has what it takes to beat any of those guys - particularly in the speed department. Lara says that he's already faster than everyone at 154, so he'll definitely be faster than anyone at 160. He also believes that not having to cut those last few pounds will increase his power as an added advantage.
But is Lara really chasing a potential fight with Golovkin, when most other fighters around middleweight are doing all they can to avoid him?
"I think Golovkin is a very, very good fighter and I've been watching him since my amateur days," Lara said. "He fought a lot of Cubans so I know his style and how he operates. I know exactly what he's trying to do."
Lara goes on to say that his ring intelligence will be the difference maker if he meets Golovkin in the ring.
"With all of the mistakes he makes in the ring, I would be able to expose those for 12 rounds and dominate him," Lara said. "He's one of the better fighters but there are a lot of errors I see in there that I would expose."
"Dominate" is a pretty strong word but I like his confidence - especially if he'll actually push for this fight and isn't just talking to talk.
As an aside, Lara also says that he has heard the criticism that plagues many Cuban professionals (their amateur style not making much of an impression in the professional ranks), and is diligently working on increasing his punch output and throwing more combinations to impress the fans and judges alike.
Lara does admit, though, that he's trying to strike a balance in his approach:
"But when you are in the ring, there are guys who pride themselves on not only offense, but defense and I pride myself on not getting hit. There's a future after boxing so the defensive skills I learned in Cuba, I like to translate to the pros."
Let's see if Lara takes a step in that direction tonight against Zaveck.