Erislandy Lara might not be long for the 154-pound ranks. Jan Zaveck is just getting started there.
But the two veteran fighters are in the division together long enough to set up a clash of current and former champions tomorrow night at Hialeah Park Racing & Casino in Miami.
Lara (21-2-2, 12 KOs) weighed in Tuesday at 153.6, while Zaveck (35-3, 19 KOs) clocked in at 153.2.
Though Erislandy Lara is known as a tricky technician who’s incredibly difficult to fight, he says that against the come-forward Zaveck, fight fans might see a side of the Cuban boxer that's rarely on display.
“I like to stick and move, but I’ve worked on staying in the pocket, so we’ll see more banging and a possibility of stopping him before the final bell from an accumulation of punches,” Lara says.
No matter which game plan Lara brings into the fight, he’s going to pose a stiff test for Jan Zaveck. In the Solvenian’s 2013 tilt against Keith Thurman—arguably his toughest opponent to date—Zaveck ate a steady diet of jabs that split his guard.
Lara just happens to be deadly with his jab, not to mention his straight left.
“I’m a boxer,” Lara says. “I like to counterpunch. Guys like Zaveck, guys like [Alfredo] Angulo who come to really fight, that’s where it brings out the best in me. It forces me to pick up the tempo and put combinations together.
"It’s something [Saul] Canelo [Alvarez] didn’t do in our fight. Canelo didn’t force the action like he did this past Saturday [when Alvarez beat Miguel Cotto]. I like guys like Zaveck who go 100 mph.”
The fight also marks a homecoming of sorts for Lara. After arriving in the United States from Germany, Lara lived in Miami for three years before moving to Houston to be closer to trainer Ronnie Shields.
“Miami is in my blood,” he said. “It’s the closest thing to Cuba. This is where my people are at, my fans, some of my closest friends. It’s going to be a very special day.”
On the other hand, Zaveck has only twice fought in the U.S., losing to both Thurman and Andre Berto. He’s spent most of his career in the 147-pound ranks, but will be fighting for the third straight time in the 154-pound class, where he’s won back-to-back scraps over Ferenc Hafner and Sasha Yengoyan.
At 39, this could be the last division in which Zaveck dips his toe. Lara, on the other hand, has openly discussed campaigning at 160. Not only is the 5-foot-9 Lara the taller man by an inch and a half, and more suited to fight at 154, but he has a massive reach advantage—74 inches to 67—that figures to make life difficult for his Slovenian counterpart.
Still, Zaveck brings a certain swagger to the fight that you'd expect from a former champion.
"I have the power and the pressure to handle him,” he says. “I’m a bit of a boxer and a puncher. I don’t expect him to cause me any major problems.”
For full coverage of Lara vs Zaveck, make sure to hit up our fight page.