CARSON, Calif. – Erislandy Lara can’t escape controversy.
He’s been on the wrong end of one of the worst robberies in recent memory.
He settled for a draw last year in a fight most thought he won.
Now, his opponent quit in the middle of a razor-thin fight.
Alfredo Angulo dropped Lara twice, but in the 10th round, his face and left eye a swollen mess, the 30-year-old Mexican turned his back on his opponent. Referee Raul Caiz Sr. sensed that Angulo wanted out and immediately halted the bout at 1:50 of the tenth round, the co-feature of a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader from the Home Depot Center.
Lara (18-1-2, 12 knockouts), was ahead on two of three cards at the time of the stoppage: 85-84 and 85-84. Angulo was up 86-83 on the other card.
“I was still winning the fight even with the knockdowns. I knew I was going to stop him in the later rounds,” said Lara.
“He caught me with some goods shots, but I fought too hard to get to this place in my career – through the shark-infested waters of Cuba – to let a few knockdowns get in my way.”
Afterward, Angulo’s camp claimed the fighter suffered a fractured orbital bone in his left eye. They say it was the result of a thumb from Lara, though it was more likely the precision punching of the 2005 amateur world champion.
The 30-year-old Cuban was easily outboxing Angulo until he ran into a perfectly timed left hook in the fourth round. Lara was badly hurt, but was on steady legs and back in control by the end of the stanza.
“Angulo had good power, but I used my movement and stepped and slid around him and landed my big left hand,” Lara said. “I wanted to stand in front of him and give the fans a good fight and that’s when I got caught.”
Angulo (22-3, 18 KOs) went to the body early and often, and it seemed to pay dividends. Lara began to tire and resorted to clinching in the middle rounds.
Angulo applied non-stop pressure on Lara, while Lara boxed off the ropes and placed well-timed counters. But Angulo’s face was turning into a mess. His left eye was grotesquely swollen along with the rest of his battered face.
Lara walked him into devastating shots over and over. He seemed on his way to winning a close decision, but Angulo landed a second money punch in the ninth, again separating Lara from his senses. Lara again beat the count, and when Angulo closed in to finish the job, he elected to exchange.
Drama was building in the fight, but after Lara landed a big shot in the 10th, Angulo might as well have said, “No mas.” He wanted no more.
Lara didn’t evade controversy, but his third major fight gave him the elusive big win.
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Jermell Charlo, one of the top prospects in the junior middleweight division, scored a close 12-round unanimous decision victory over Demetrius Hopkins in the opening fight of the tripleheader.
All three judges turned in the same tally: 115-113 for Charlo.
Charlo (21-0, 10 KOs) and Hopkins (33-3-1, 13 KOs) turned in a complete snoozer, one that the fans voiced their displeasure with time and again.
Charlo tried to make it a fight at times, but Hopkins did his best impression of his uncle Bernard and resorted to dirty tactics and clinching.
“It was a tough fight,” Charlo, said. “I got hit by a bunch of Bernard Hopkins-type head-butts and had to fight through adversity. Overall, it was a good fight. I still have a lot to learn.”
Charlo called out the winner of the July 19 IBF junior middleweight title fight between Ishe Smith and Carlos Molina following the bout.