NEW YORK – Erislandy Lara returned to the site of his last competitive fight Saturday night and defeated another huge underdog.

The 39-year-old Cuban southpaw stopped Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan at the start of the eighth round of the co-feature before Gervonta Davis and Rolando Romero met in the main event of a Showtime Pay-Per-View card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Lara hurt O’Sullivan badly with a left hand just before the seventh round ended, but O’Sullivan was allowed to start the eighth round.

Lara quickly pounced on him at the start of the eighth round and quickly hurt O’Sullivan with another straight left hand that made him stumble backward. Referee Benjy Esteves allowed Lara to land one more punch before he stepped between them and called a halt to the action 23 seconds into the eighth round.  

Lara (29-3-3, 17 KOs) retained his secondary WBA middleweight title, but did little to enhance his standing in the 160-pound division. Since his controversial draw with former 154-pound champion Brian Castano in March 2019 at Barclays Center, Lara has beaten four big underdogs in Ramon Alvarez, Greg Vendetti, Thomas LaManna and O’Sullivan.

Before Saturday night, Ireland’s O’Sullivan (31-5, 21 KOs) had defeated only Georgian journeyman Nodar Robakidze (16-41-6, 5 KOs) by unanimous decision in a six-rounder since Mexico’s Jaime Munguia (39-0, 31 KOs) knocked him out in the 11th round of their January 2020 bout at Alamodome in San Antonio.

On Saturday night, Lara began breaking down O’Sullivan during the sixth round. A right hook by Lara knocked O’Sullivan off balance with about 1:35 to go in the sixth round.

Lara rocked O’Sullivan several times late in the fifth round, but he couldn’t drop him the way he did during the fourth round. A straight left and a right hook by Lara backed O’Sullivan into the ropes several seconds before the fifth round ended.

A left hand by Lara knocked O’Sullivan, who was hurt from the previous punch, flat on his back late with about 20 seconds to go in the fourth round. O’Sullivan rolled over, but he got up in time to beat Esteves’ count.

Lara snuck several punches through O’Sullivan’s gloves in the second and third rounds. O’Sullivan bled from a cut on the bridge of his nose by the third round.

O’Sullivan snuck a left hook to Lara’s body around his guard halfway through the first round. Both boxers defended themselves pretty well, however, during what amounted to an uneventful first round.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.