On January 13, 2016, we get our first major fight of the 2017 calendar year when Cuban standout Erislandy Lara, 23-2-2, 13 KO’s puts his World Boxing Association (WBA) junior middleweight, 154 pounds, title on the line against Brooklyn, New York, based Orthodox Jew and former WBA 154 pound champion,Yuri Foreman, 34-2, 10 KO’s.
Foreman is currently sporting a six-fight winning streak since suffering back to back defeats to Miguel Cotto and Pawel Wolak, his only defeats in his career. It should be noted that Foreman suffered a right knee injury in the Cotto fight that required him to have surgery immediately following. That aside, Foreman may have very well been overmatched in that bout with it being his first defense of the WBA title that he held at the time while Cotto moved up to the junior middleweight division for the shot.
Foreman is now back and seemingly refreshed after a long layoff, though the competition he’s faced during his win streak will be nothing like what he’ll face in fighting Lara. Currently on his own four-fight winning streak since suffering a controversial defeat at the hands of Canelo Alvarez, Lara comes in with ambitions of getting a shot at another top 154 pound fighter for a major payday. While Foreman shouldn’t be overlooked, I strongly favor Lara in this fight. Having fought only once in 2016, Lara should have a sense of urgency as the junior middleweight division keeps getting deeper.
At 33, Lara hasn’t taken much damage in his career given his style and may have several good years left in him, though as we all know, time waits for no man or woman. Foreman is 36 and likely saw his peak during his short lived title reign. The biggest question mark associated with this fight is what will be the move for Lara afterwards? Should Lara lose this fight then It would set him back further in the 154 pound division than it would the likes of Yuri Foreman. Lara is a defensive minded fighter that throws punches like they cost him, and it’s hard for anyone to look good against him. That doesn’t exactly have guys lining up to fight.
As mentioned, junior middleweight is one of the deepest divisions in boxing and is currently littered with talent. The likes of Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, Jermell Charlo, Miguel Cotto, and Jarrett Hurd come to mind when I think of talented, top 10 fighters that Lara could be matched against here in 2017. Additionally, he could rematch Canelo Alvarez and Austin Trout should none of the above mentioned fights pan out, though the Alvarez rematch is the least likely of them all. Whether any of these fights will happen is unknown to anyone at the current moment. Jermall Charlo has already hinted to moving up to middleweight, 160 pounds, and who knows what other fighters will follow. We must wait to see how the second half of 2017 lines up.
With the Lara Vs Foreman fight happening barring any unforeseen circumstances, all we can really hope for is a decent fight. If my prediction holds true, I see Lara stopping Foreman in the mid-rounds. For Lara’s sake, a bad showing won’t do him any good if he intends to land one of the bigger names at 154, which he’s been unable to do since his Alvarez loss. When the smoke clears at 154, if Lara expects to still be mentioned with the top names he must have his way with Foreman. If Foreman does somehow win, hopefully he can get one final payday with a big name as he inches towards retirement. And with that, may the best man win!
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