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Lara vs Gausha: Fight preview and matchup

Erislandy Lara is back on Saturday to face former Olympian Terrell Gausha.

Erislandy Lara

Erislandy Lara v Yuri Foreman Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Record: 24-2-2 (14 KO) ... Streak: W5 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 8-1-1 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'9" / 74" ... Age: 34

Thoughts: Cuba’s Lara is a purist favorite because of his skill set, as he brings a lot of technical class to the table. But what have we really seen of Lara lately?

Let’s take a look at his WBA title reign, and we’ll start when he won the interim title against Alfredo Angulo in June 2013. That was a good win, a fun fight where Lara was matched with an intensely aggressive opponent, had some problems with that style, got dropped twice, but ultimately busted Angulo’s face and scored a 10th round TKO win.

Then he beat Austin Trout in December 2013, a dull fight, but that was to be expected with those two and their styles. It was a good, clear victory for Lara, who went up an extra pound to face Canelo Alvarez in July 2014, losing a narrow decision.

The title reign continued after, and what we’ve seen since hasn’t exactly been inspiring. He defeated Ishe Smith in December 2014, Delvin Rodriguez in June 2016, Jan Zaveck in November 2015, Vanes Martirosyan in May 2016, and perhaps most appallingly, a totally undeserving Yuri Foreman in January of this year.

Whether you’re a fan of Lara’s or not, there’s really no arguing that since he became credited as “full” champion by the WBA starting with the fight against Ishe Smith, Lara’s title reign has been quite poor, lacking in quality opposition.

But, in all reality, it’s hard to blame Lara or his team. It’s not like he’s got a history of flat-out avoiding fighters — he fought Canelo, he fought Paul Williams and was egregiously robbed of a victory way back in 2011, and before that fight, he even fought Carlos Molina, a guy who also had problems getting top opponents. (And in that one, it was Lara who was lucky to get out with a draw instead of a loss.) He’s faced Martirosyan, a good contender, twice.

That matters, and I wanted to note that I don’t blame Lara for the matchups. But it’s gotten tough to watch him matched up with inferiors he’s going to either mow down, as he did with Zaveck and Foreman, or carefully win decisions over, as he did with Smith and Rodriguez. His style needs an opponent looking to engage to be appealing for most people, and it’s his style that is probably keeping a lot of people away from him — and, frankly, probably keeping PBC from risking any of their other notable 154-pound fighters against him.

Terrell Gausha

Premier Boxing Champions - Gausha v Gonzalez Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Record: 20-0 (9 KO) ... Streak: W20 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'10" / 72" ... Age: 30

Thoughts: Every single member of the 2012 U.S. men’s Olympic boxing team went pro following the Summer Games in London that year. Two of them (Errol Spence Jr and Rau’shee Warren) have won world titles. Two others (Michael Hunter and Dominic Breazeale) have received world title shots. Joseph Diaz Jr, Jose Ramirez, and Marcus Browne are knocking on the door in their divisions, with Diaz recently winning a title eliminator at 126, Ramirez part of the WBC’s tournament to fill a vacancy at 140, and Browne having made some waves at 175 with recent wins over Thomas Williams Jr and Seanie Monaghan.

That leaves two men: Jamel Herring, who has lost two of his last three fights, and Terrell Gausha, who has very quietly gone undefeated in 20 professional fights.

Gausha is 30, doesn’t have big power, isn’t a great technician or anything, and hasn’t been overly impressive in his pro career. He’s won, but his level of opposition hasn’t seriously tested him, either, and that’s been by design. He didn’t really stand out as a pro prospect when he did turn pro, and he hasn’t blown anyone away in his 20 fights, either.

He’s here for various reasons. First of all — and I don’t really mean this to be harsh — they might as well get a world title fight out of him before someone else beats him. The simple fact of the matter is that nothing Gausha has shown indicates that he’s prepared to be a real test for Lara. He’s a better opponent than creaky old Yuri Foreman was, but that’s not saying a whole lot, either.

Matchup Grade: D+. There’s not a lot to really like here, is there? It’s a foregone conclusion and another poor fight on paper for Lara’s unfortunate title reign. Of the three fights on this Showtime card, this is by far the least interesting. The only hope is that Gausha is better than he’s appeared to be thus far, and we get a real fight.

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