Lara Vs. Martirosyan 2 on Tap: The March of the Never-Ending WBC Eliminators Continues

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COMMENTARY | On Friday, Golden Boy won the purse bid for the right to promote the Erislandy Lara-Vanes Martirosyan rematch with an offer of $410,000 to Top Rank's $62,500.

Last November, the two 20-something junior middleweight contenders engaged in a tactical snoozefest that resulted in a nine-round technical draw after a clash of heads opened a gash over Martirosyan's left eye. The intrigue surrounding the headbutt was the only intrigue of the bout. It would be fairly safe to say that the fans in attendance and those watching on HBO's Boxing After Dark were hardly disappointed with the decision to end the bout early. Especially disappointing was the fact that the two talented fighters had been engaged in a nasty war of words for months before they actually stepped into the ring.

The return bout, just like their first contest, is being billed as a WBC junior middleweight "final" eliminator. And for those keeping score at home, this will be the WBC's sixth title eliminator in about twenty-three months without actually producing a challenger for the organization's world titlist, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.

To be fair, the WBC's title eliminators have actually lived up to their name-- They've, thus far, eliminated all of the participating contenders from moving on to a title shot. Here's the full list of official WBC 154 lb. eliminators since Alvarez has been champ:

Vanes Martirosyan TKO 7 Saul Roman (6/4/11)

James Kirkland TKO 6 Alfredo Angulo (11/5/11)

James Kirkland DQ 10 Carlos Molina (3/24/12)

Erislandy Lara TKO 1 Ronald Hearns (4/20/12)

Vanes Martirosyan TD 9 Erislandy Lara (11/10/12)

Win, lose, or draw; Spectacular knockout win or controversial DQ victory-- None of those competing in official WBC junior middleweight eliminators have moved on to title shots. Alvarez, on the other hand, has made five title defenses, against other opposition, since the March of the Never-Ending Eliminators began.

In some cases, the Mexico City-based sanctioning body saw fit to designate title eliminators as "semi-final" eliminators, after the fact. James Kirkland's thrilling sixth-round stoppage of Alfredo Angulo was almost completely wiped off the books-- Stripped down to "only" being a clash for the Continental Americas 154 lb. belt after being widely hyped as a title eliminator. Sometimes, the WBC was upfront with the fact that highly-ranked contenders were going to be fighting for the right to fight another highly-ranked contender for the right to maybe, possibly get a title shot at some point...maybe.

Whatever the case, nobody from any of the title eliminators is any closer to an actual title shot, but hope springs eternal that the sixth time's a charm and that the winner, this time, will actually get a chance to grab the gold.

The bad news is that back when Martirosyan and Lara were first signed to meet one another, the defending champ, Alvarez, was not very receptive to the idea of facing the winner. With a possible blockbuster bout with Floyd Mayweather being planned for September, the 22-year-old champ from Guadalajara may be even less receptive to facing either fighter anytime soon. And, from the way the WBC has seemingly chop-blocked anyone planning on dethroning their affable titlist, it's hard to imagine Jose Sulaiman and company actually stripping Alvarez.

In the meantime, though, fighters do what they do-- go to the gym, work on their game, and in this era of social media, take their tough talk to Twitter.

Martirosyan has already fired a shot in Lara's direction via his official Twitter account:

"You Ready to fight this time or you gonna bring your running shoes again? Lets give the fans what they wanna see. See u n the ring"

Contracts are due to be finalized by February 5 and then they'll have ninety days to actually step into the ring, meaning Martirosyan-Lara II has to take place by the first week of May. From there, the winner should get Saul Alvarez-- Unless, of course, this eliminator wasn't a final, final eliminator.


Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.


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