Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Freddy Hernandez fought a courageous fight on Saturday, June 30 at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California but was out-boxed by canny Cuban Erislandy Lara. For ten rounds, Lara’s accuracy was outstanding, his combination-punching on point and his ability always one level above his opponent’s, yet his ten round victory was marred slightly by his occasional use of dirty tactics…
Official verdict: Lara by unanimous decision (95-94, 98-91, 99-90).
During the opening sessions, Lara (17-1-1, 11ko) asserted himself with two fundamental assets: speed and strength, however, there were occasional blemishes to the overall nature of the bout as headbutts occurred. The left hand to the body was key for Lara and it was thrown with great aggression. Hernandez, who was stopped in a solitary round by Andre Berto during a WBC welterweight world championship contest in 2010, slipped behind Lara in terms of scoring after two stanzas as he just couldn’t match the Cuban’s combination punching.
Hernandez, though, upped his accuracy in round three and his left hook in particular inspired Lara to move into other spaces within the ring. With this success, Hernandez boxed in the fourth round with pressure and aggression in mind. And, in round five, body shots were exchanged, inside fighting ensued and a physically gruelling pace was maintained. Straight punches to the face caused bleeding from the eye region on the Mexican, evidence that Lara’s punches had notable pop.
When the fight had reached it’s halfway mark, Lara had successfully busted Hernandez up. The body-shots at the beginning of the fight had led to openings that allowed him to land crisp and thudding straight left punches into Freddy’s face. Further to this, the Cuban also landed tortuous shots to the midsection and used his jab to a: find-range and b: parry Hernandez’s punches. In the final minute of the sixth, Lara riled the crowd with what appeared to be a jumping headbutt, but all that did was bring the fighter out of Hernandez who clapped his gloves and implored Lara to stand and trade.
Ignoring the referee’s request to keep it clean prior to each round, Lara again butted Hernandez at the beginning of the seventh and so a point was duly deducted from his tally. With a cut-laden and bloody face, the ringside physician inspected Hernandez after the round and, within moments of the eighth’s commencement, Lara pounded his opponent with crunching one-two combos. Despite the lacerations, Hernandez continued to be a game adversary but couldn’t pin Lara where he needed to be in order to negate Erislandy’s foot speed – against the ropes or the corner.
In the closing rounds, question marks rose regarding Lara’s conditioning but he still found the finish line with an incredible authority, landing often, powerfully and accurately. By the end of the fight, Hernandez’s cheek bone was swollen and red, his brow was cut and he also sported claret nicks over his face… Lara, in contrast, appeared relatively unscathed and it was this image that was the definitive factor in the fight. Hernandez was a valiant warrior but ultimately one who was continually outclassed by the economic, resourceful and stronger fighter from the blue corner; Lara.