Erislandy Lara is a professional boxer who was born in Guantanamo, Cuba, on April 11, 1983. While he did not take up the sport of boxing at a young age, Lara became known for his technical skills in the ring early in his amateur career. After a rough start, he finally became one of the best amateur boxers in Cuba in 2005. This recognition earned him a spot on the Cuban roster for the 2005 Boxing World Cup in Moscow. Lara dominated the early portion of the tournament, but eventually lost in the final match to Russian Andrey Balanov to get the silver medal.
He would also get the chance to represent Cuba in the welterweight division at the 2005 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Mianyang, China. An early victory over his Russian rival Balanov put Lara in great position to succeed. He went on to win every match in the tournament to earn the gold medal. He added another gold medal to his impressive amateur boxing resume when he was the top fighter at the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games in Cartegena, Columbia.
Erislandy Lara was expected to be a big contributor for the Cuban boxing team at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, but he was banned for the sport indefinitely for attempting to defect to Brazil in 2007. He did not let the governmental ban prevent him from his passion, so Lara used a boat to get to Mexico in 2008. He then went to Hamburg, Germany, to seek asylum. The successful defection to Germany allowed him to start his professional boxing career with a win over Ivan Maslov on July 4, 2008.
Erislandy Lara successfully won his first 13 professional fights before getting a chance to win a title. A match on November 27, 2010, against Tim Connors was for the vacant WBA Fedelatin light middleweight title. Lara won the match with a first round technical knockout. His first professional loss came against Paul Williams on July 9, 2011. Erislandy responded with two straight victories following the loss to Williams. This ability to rebound earned him a shot at the vacant WBA light middleweight title against Alfredo Angulo. Both fighters put on a good performance, but Angulo ultimately got knocked out in the 10th round.
Lara successfully defended his new WBA title with a unanimous decision victory over Austin Trout on December 7, 2013. While waiting for a strong contender to emerge, he decided to move up a weight class to face Canelo Alvarez. The risky decision did not pay off because Alvarez won the fight by split decision. Erislandy Lara added another title belt to his waist when he defeated Delvin Rodriguez on June 12, 2015, in a match for the vacant IBO light middleweight title. Both of the prestigious light middleweight titles were successfully defended against Jan Zaveck and Vanes Martirosyan to end 2016 with a professional record of 23-2-2. Ersilandy added another successful title defense to his career record when defeated Yuri Foreman with a fourth round knockout on January 13, 2017.