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Lara: If It’s Up To Me, I’ll Fight Charlo-Castano Winner Next; That’s My Number One Fight

Erislandy Lara’s move to the middleweight division might not last long.

Unless he is offered a high-profile fight for a substantial purse at the 160-pound limit, Lara likely will move back down to the junior middleweight division for his next fight. The 38-year-old Lara technically became a two-weight world champion Saturday night, when he knocked out huge underdog Thomas LaManna in the first round to win the then-vacant WBA world middleweight title at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

The southpaw still owns the WBA world super welterweight title, and he wants the Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano winner next.

“One-hundred percent, that’s my number one fight,” Lara said. “If it’s my choice, if it’s up to me, I’ll fight the winner of the Charlo-Castano fight next. There’s no question about it.”

Houston’s Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) and Argentina’s Castano (17-0-1, 12 KOs) are scheduled to meet in a 12-round, 154-pound title unification fight July 17 at an undetermined venue. They’ll fight for Charlo’s IBF, WBA and WBC championships, as well as Castano’s WBO belt.

“It’s a hard fight,” Lara said. “It’s a 50-50 fight. I trained with Charlo for a lot of years and obviously I fought Castano. Whoever wants it more and trains more will win that type of fight.”

Lara (28-3-3, 16 KOs) and Castano fought to a 12-round split draw in March 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Castano retained the WBA world 154-pound championship that night, but he later was stripped of that title for refusing to make a mandatory defense against France’s Michel Soro (35-2-1, 24 KOs). Castano declined a mandated rematch with Soro in France because the promoters of that event took approximately 10 months to pay Castano his purse in full after Castano won their first fight by split decision in July 2017.

Lara won the title Castano surrendered when he demolished Mexico’s Ramon Alvarez in the second round of their August 2019 bout in Minneapolis.

“I felt I beat him pretty clearly,” Lara said of Castano, “and I’m willing to do it again next.”

Lara has not fought a top opponent since his draw with Castano two years ago. He has been heavily favored entering each of his three subsequent victories over Alvarez (28-8-3, 16 KOs, 1 NC), Greg Vendetti (22-4-1, 12 KOs), who lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Lara, and LaManna (30-5-1, 12 KOs).

“I still wanna make a lot more history in this sport,” Lara said. “I still have a lot left and I’m looking for big fights. I’m looking forward to securing my future. I just wanna fight the best guys. I don’t care if it’s at 160 or 154. I’m hoping to get some big names.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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