Expect fists to fly early and often when modern great Erislandy Lara puts his WBA super welterweight title on the line versus hard-charging Greg Vendetti Saturday night on FOX.
This Saturday, August 29, FOX PBC Fight Night (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) opens the door for a returning master, an eager upstart, and a spotlight on the deep, talented super welterweight division.
Live from a crowdless Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles and broadcast live on FOX and FOX Deportes, Erislandy "The American Dream" Lara (26-3-3, 15 KOs) defends his WBA super welterweight title against hard-charging Greg Vendetti (22-3-1, 12 KOs) in a twelve-round clash of styles.
Additional bouts will be broadcast live on FS1 starting at 6pm ET/3pm PT, before the FOX PBC Fight Night card.
Erislandy Lara has traveled a long road in the sport of boxing. From being a decorated amateur in the Cuban boxing system to defecting to the U.S. in 2008 to a pair of world titles and recognition as one of the modern masters, the man originally from Guantanamo, Cuba has an amazing story. great story. At 37 years of age, however, the question is how much is left to tell.
A one-sided, second round destruction of Ramon Alvarez last August didn't tell us much about, but a back and forth draw with Brian Castano in the fight before that and a blood-and-guts, Fight of the Year battle with Jarrett Hurd in 2018 did showed he had plenty of fight left in him.
Lara, who now fights out of Houston, Texas, has never stopped being elite at 154 and is looking to use this Saturday's fight to keep his name in the big fight picture.
Greg Vendetti is as blue collar as they come. The Stoneham, Massachusetts native even began settling into a career as a plumber after back-to-back losses in 2013 and 2014. But a rededication to the sport and a heaping dose of determination enabled a subsequent 16-0 run which culminated in a 2018 high-water mark victory over tough-as-nails Yoshihiro Kamegai.
A second-round KO at the hands of Michel Soro in his next fight stalled his momentum, but it didn't damper his motivation.
Vendetti is 2-0 since the Soro setback and he sees this Lara fight as the opportunity of his career.
At stake is Lara's WBA super welterweight title and access to bigger, more bankable bouts in the stacked 154-pound division.
At his very best, Lara is a wizard in the ring and an expert in the sweet science. Hard-to-hit and difficult to figure out, the southpaw is a master at utilizing angles and timing to throw opponents off-kilter. He's also adept at countering shots from perplexed foes.
Despite earning a reputation as a defensive savant, he has also proven himself to be a true battler and mean-spirited puncher when forced into a fight. Gritty performances against Jarrett Hurd and Alfredo Angulo serve as testament to his toughness.
In recent bouts, he has become more stationary, more offense-based, something which may or may not be an acknowledgement of the need to conserve energy and move from nuanced mastery to a more flat-footed aggression.
“ I feel stronger than I did a couple of years ago and I’m ready to put on a show Saturday night. ” WBA World Super Welterweight Champion - Erislandy Lara
Vendetti, on the other hand, brings absolutely no mystery to the ring. You know exactly what to expect when fighting him: A tough, tenacious battler who slings fists with bad intentions.
A volume puncher by necessity, the 30-year-old, 5-foot-6 brawler needs to barrel in and fight on the inside to be effective. With little amateur experience and a limited resume, his game is built around toughness and grinding down foes with constant pressure. Although not particularly heavy-handed, he can overwhelm opposition with his punch output.
Defensively, Vendetti is definitely an offense-is-the-best-defense kind of fighter, although a fighting style that utilizes his low center of gravity helps defend against some attacks.
"I really haven’t seen Vendetti at all. I don’t like to watch video of my future opponents. For me, the style will become clear in the first round once we start throwing punches in the ring.
"I feel better than ever. I’ve been training hard and working well heading into this fight. I feel stronger than I did a couple of years ago and I’m ready to put on a show Saturday night."
" My trainer has been saying for years that I have a good style to face Lara and once I got the call, I took it as a real sign. I'm really motivated to show everyone what I can do and put on my best performance.
"I look at it like this is just another human like me that I'm facing. He's made of skin and bones and I'm sure he has his doubts about himself. Maybe about his age and about if I can get to him. I don't get intimidated by anything in the ring. I'm just really excited to test myself against one of the best fighters of this generation.”
How much struggle we see this Saturday depends largely on Lara. If he's at peak or near-peak form, he should be too much for his much more modestly-skilled opponent. If he's in the more flat-footed, offensive form of recent contests, he'll leave a window of opportunity for Vendetti to get some work done.
That said, even a post-prime Lara executes at an elite level, employing high-end skill and superior ring IQ. His genius-level mastery of the game will make him a tough challenge right up until he decides to hang up the gloves.
Vendetti will have to execute his own game plan impeccably and he still may have to count on some Lara slippage to come away with the win. Like a lot of offense-first battlers, he struggles with movement, angles, and distance. So, he'll have to nullify much of that by crowding Lara and forcing a firefight. Lara, in turn, would probably prefer to put him away early before getting too deep into battle.
Given both fighters' realities, an explosive evening is guaranteed on Saturday.
For a closer look at Lara vs Vendetti, check out our fight night page.