Erislandy Lara talks about challenging big-name fighters like Alfredo Angulo, Sergio Martinez or Kermit Cintron. For now, though, the talented Cuban defector is still beating up on the likes of Delray Raines.
Lara stopped Raines with one second remaining in the first round of a scheduled 10-round junior middleweight bout, his fourth consecutive opening-round knockout against journeymen over the past six months.
Raines (18-9-1, 13 knockouts) held his own for 2:48, at which point Lara (15-0, 10 KOs) landed a right hook-straight left combination that put the dazed product of Paris, Ark., flat on his back and bloodied his nose.
And that’s where he stayed as referee David Mendoza counted him out.
Raines has become a foil for rising young title hopefuls. He was stopped in two rounds by David Lemieux in 2009 and in one round by Ronald Hearns last year.
Lara’s diet of journeyman opponents, which started last July after more-competitive fights against Luciano Perez, Grady Brewer and Danny Perez, should end soon. The 27-year-old is ranked in the Top 11 in three of the four major sanctioning bodies and not far from a title shot.
Look for him to raise the level of his opposition before he actually challenges for a major belt.
On the undercard, junior welterweight prospect Frankie Gomez (8-0, 6 KOs) of East Los Angeles was taken the distance by durable Jose Alfredo Lugo (11-15-1, 5 KOs) but remained undefeated with a one-sided unanimous six-round decision.
Lugo, a late-substitute who went down from a left hook late in the third round, has a terrible record but is one of those tough “opponents” from Mexico. Thirteen of his opponents were undefeated at the time they fought.
That includes prospect Mike Dallas Jr., with whom he fought to a draw in 2008.