Boxing Notebook: A top prospect

By Francis Walker, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: August 19, 2010

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NEW YORK (BASN) — Erislandy Lara (13-0, 8 KOs) is one of the most talked about prospects in all of boxing.

The 27 year-old, Cuban southpaw is part of the same era that produced Cuban amateur stars Yuriorkis Gamoba, Odlanier Solis, and Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Lara’s amateur career included a 2005 world championship.

Lara’s amateur experience, along with Lara’s development as a professional, has led to his being heavily pushed by Arena-Sports boxing promoter Amet Oner.

Lara, fighting in the main event of a special edition of ESPN’s “Wednesday Night Fights,” stopped Willie Lee (17-7, 11 KOs) at 1:48 of the opening round.

Lee is an experienced southpaw from Louisiana. He has fought a mixture of former world champions and title contenders including Chad Dawson, Yusaf Mack, and Sechew Powell.

Less entered the bout having lost three of his last six fights dating back to 2006. Lee has been stopped five times, including a third-round stoppage defeat to Vanes Martirosyan in December 2009.

As experienced Lee was, it didn’t matter. He was no where near the level of a developing star. Lee was wobbly after every punch that landed from Lara. Lee was dropped once before being pummeled against the ropes prior to the stoppage.

“I feel in great shape you see that every fight,” Lara said afterwards. “I’m improving thanks to Ronnie Shields, each fight is going to get better and better.”

Lara, also a southpaw, has only been fighting professional for two years. Already he has had three fights go into the tenth round along with six one-round knockouts.

Lara has worked with Shields for three consecutive fights.

Shields is a former Junior Olympic and National Golden Gloves Champion in the 1970s. His experience is extensive: Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, David Tua, Juan Diaz, the late Vernon Forrest, Tomasz Adamek, and of course Mike Tyson.

Lara has the talent and with Shields leading the way, the expectations of Lara are high.

Grant inches closer to Adamek

Michael Grant (46-3, 34 KOs), the former heavyweight title challenger, will have an opportunity to beat rising heavyweight contender, Tomasz Adamek (41-1, 27 KOs) on Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

It’s going to be a difficult fight for Grant because his former trainer Roger Bloodworth currently trains Adamek, who also promoted by Grant’s former company Main Events. But Grant insists that he’s focused on beating Adamek.

“How do I see the fight playing out?” Grant asked.

“Okay let’s play with this…He’s [Adamek] probably going to try to figure out the punching power for the first 3 or 4 rounds and then make a decision; ‘Okay do I want to gamble or not’. Meanwhile, while he’s thinking about gambling I’m already gonna be putting power out, dropping hands on him.”

“So then you’re into a ‘what should I do?’ moment.”

Grant added: “You got to make sure that those decisions don’t make you delayed so bad where you start getting caught. And sometimes when you start getting caught, and getting caught, it messes all the decision making up and that can be very hurtful.”

Grant knows all to well about second-guessing and getting caught. While Grant has won 46 bouts, he’s mostly remembered for his three losses — all by KO. Many asked how can a 6-foot-7, 250-pound fighter get beat the way Grant was defeated earlier in his career?

Grant is seven years removed from his previous loss to Dominic Guinn, nine years has past from his first-round defeat to Jameel McCline, and his April 2000 challenge against then-world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis seemed like another lifetime.

Grant has won eight consecutive fights, but has fought unrecognizable opposition. Grant has an impressive record, but hasn’t fought on a high level in years. Grant vs. Adamek is a pay-per-view fight featuring the return of U.S. Olympian Saddam Ali.

The big question is how much does Grant have left? We’ll find out on Saturday.

Tickets for “Adamke vs. Grant: The Big Challenge” are priced at #53, $78, $103, and $253 and can be purchased at the Prudential Center Box Office, TicketMaster at 800-745-3000 or www.Prucenter.com.

The event will also be featured on Integrated Sports Pay-Per-View at a suggested retail of $29.95.

Manfredo signs with DiBella

Middleweight contender Peter Manfredo, Jr. (35-6, 19 KOs) has signed a promotional pact with DiBella Entertainment.

“I am thrilled to sign a promotional deal with DiBella Entertainment,” said Manfredo. “This was made possible through the hard work of my team. My trainer, and dad, Peter Manfredo, Sr. has gotten me back to the basics which made me a world champion, and my manager, Larry Amry, Jr., has guided my career in a manner that has made signing with one of the top promoters in the world a reality.”

The 29-year-old from Providence, Rhode Island has fought professionally since September 2000. Although he has had success, Manfredo has come up short whenever he stepped-up his level of opposition in bouts with Joe Calzaghe, Sakio Bika, and Jeff Lacy. Manfredo, a former reality show contestant on “The Contender” lost to former world champion Sergio Mora in the finals.

Manfredo, despite his shortcomings, continues to plow forward.

“Peter Manfredo is one of the best hometown attractions in all of boxing,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “Not only that, Peter has world class skills to go along with his fan base.”

“While Peter will never be on a pound-for-pound list, he is a great Italian-American warrior, who continues in the tradition of Mancini, Pazienza, and Gatti.” The relationship with DiBella could lead Manfredo toward a shot at winning one of the major world championship belts.

“With DiBella in my corner,” said Manfredo. “I have the strongest team in boxing, and I know that an opportunity to defend my title and fight other champions is now a reality.”

Klitschko vs. Briggs: October 16th in Hamburg

The fight that Shannon Briggs has been asking for has been signed, sealed, and delivered. Having boastfully claimed just what he’d do to the Klitschko’s, Briggs will finally have his opportunity to KO one of the Klitschkos.

On Saturday, October 16, at the O2 World Arena in Hamburg, Germany, former WBO heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs (51-5-1, 45 KOs) challenges two-time WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (40-2, 38 KOs).

The bout will be Klitschko’s fifth defense of the title since his 2008 return following a 3 ½-year absence.

Briggs may prove to be the most dangerous opponent Klitschko has fought since his comeback. Briggs has explosive power, 30 career first round KOs, along with a wealth of experience that include a still debatable decision over George Foreman and a loss to Lennox Lewis in 1998.