Photo by Amanda Westcott/Showtime
In an evening filled with championship bouts, Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) faced off against Erislandy Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs) in a rematch from their 2012 fight which ended in a draw–a decision that has been a thorn in sides of both fighters.
This time around the IBO and WBA Super Welterweight titles were on the line. Round 1 was a feel-out round, with both men testing out different shots on their opponent.
Lara used slick movements of the head and countered Martirosyan, as he would plant his feet looking to land strong blows. In the second, both men clashed heads in a déjà vu movement reminiscent of the clash that would eventually stop their first meeting.
As the rounds progressed, the combatants continued to play chess in the ring. Neither man tried anything risky, despite fighting most rounds in the center of the ring at punching distance.
Martirosyan would begin to pursue an attack to the body, particularly with the use of the left hook to the ribs. Lara on the other hand, held off and patiently waited for counter attacks. Heading to the midway point of the fight, it was still anyone’s fight to take.
Vanes would find success when throwing combinations and doubling up on body shots, but in the closing moments of Round 6, Lara would show off some impressive accuracy, landing multiple pop-shots on Martirosyan.
One of the biggest surprises in the match was seeing Lara sitting in the pocket, a strategy that would leave him open to devastating body shots that surely left his insides sore.
The mid-to-late rounds started with the Cuban beginning to find his target with more ease, primarily with a stiff left straight. At this point Martirosyan seemed to step off the gas, but would later begin to try to bring the fight to Lara.
As Martirosyan began to press Lara into the ropes and find success, a crucial point was deducted by referee Vic Drakulich in the 11th when it was ruled that Vanes landed a low blow.
Despite Vanes closing out strong, Lara would defend his title successfully and win the bout via unanimous decision with scores of 116-112, 115-112 and 115-112 respectfully.
Aside from the 116-112 scorecard, it was clear that the point deduction was a game changer in the final scores.
After the fight, Lara was questioned by Jim Gray regarding the low blow. “This is boxing. Low blows and headbutts happen.”
Lara would go on to say he never doubted the outcome. “I’m a great boxer. There was no point in the fight where I thought I was down,” said Lara.
Martirosyan was frustrated, but humble after his defeat. “I was chasing him the whole night. I was putting on the pressure and thought I did enough to win the fight,” said a disappointed Martirosyan.
I feel I did enough to win the fight . I did more in this fight than Canelo did against Lara .
— Vanes Martirosyan (@VanesBoxing) May 22, 2016
While both men displayed excellent boxing abilities, it is Lara who will move forward towards the path of a possible bigger matchup.
“I’m willing to fight anyone,” stated Lara. “I’d like Canelo or Golovkin.”
While his style is not a fan-friendly one by any means, there’s no doubting the pure boxing ability The American Dream possesses.
One can only wonder how that skill could translate against an onslaught of bombs coming from the lethal hands of Gennady Golovkin.
— RoundByRoundBoxing (@RBRBoxing) May 22, 2016
Peter Nieves is a sports journalist who's been writing for Round By Round Boxing since 2012. When he's not covering the sweet science, he's busy twirling his mustache and writing a screenplays. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @pnieves90