Erislandy Lara has given up one title in pursuit of another.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Lara will no longer retain the World Boxing Association (WBA) “World” junior middleweight title, having officially relinquished the belt according to sources familiar with the development. The decision came as the Cuban boxer was on the clock to inform the WBA whether he plans to retain his secondary status at junior middleweight or at middleweight.
News of the development was first revealed via Twitter by veteran boxing writer Dan Rafael.
According to sources, Lara’s team informed the WBA Championship Committee via email of his decision to remain at middleweight. The 38-year-old southpaw originally from Guantanamo, Cuba—who now lives and trains in Las Vegas—claimed the WBA “World” middleweight title in a first-round knockout of Thomas ‘Cornflake’ Lamanna this past May. At the time, many believed that he took the fight merely for the opportunity to declare title status in two separate weight divisions before dropping back down to junior middleweight where he has campaigned throughout his 13-year pro career.
The luxury of keeping two titles until his next fight was no longer afforded once the WBA began its ongoing process to reduce its number of recognized titlists, specifically at weights where more than one WBA titleholder exists. Lara (28-3-3, 16KOs) and his team were approached by the sanctioning body to decide which title he planned to keep, with a deadline of close of business Tuesday set aside to inform of his next move.
Representatives from the WBA and Lara's team were not in a position to comment on the subject as it remains in development.
With the decision to remain at middleweight, Lara’s handlers have also requested the sanctioning body order a title consolidation fight between Lara and Japan’s Ryota Murata (16-2, 13KOs), who holds the WBA “Super” middleweight title. Murata has not fought since December 2019, with attempts at two separate voluntary title defenses thwarted due to the pandemic and other external reasons.
It has been reported that Murata is eyeing a title unification clash with IBF middleweight titlist Gennadiy Golovkin, with such a bout eyed for New Year’s Eve. Proof of such a bout will need to be made available to the WBA (if not already done), at which point the more likely move would be for Lara to face Chris Eubank Jr., who was among the many fighters relieved of his interim title once the WBA phased out the belts from its rotation one week ago.
As is the case in many weight divisions, Eubank has been positioned as the number-one contender in lieu of an interim title reign.
Had Lara opted to remain at junior middleweight, the road to a shot at the “Super” title would have been more complicated.
Jermell Charlo (34-1-1, 18KOs) holds the WBA “Super” belt in addition to the lineal/WBC/IBF crowns but is already pressed with two other options—a rematch with WBO champion Brian Castaño or a title defense versus IBF mandatory challenger Bakhram Murtazaliev. The WBA has also ordered a title eliminator between Michel Soro—who holds the WBA “Gold” regional title—and Israil Madrimov.
A decision on which middleweight opportunity is next offered to Lara is expected in the coming days.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox