Erislandy Lara Santoya, born on April 11, 1983, is a Cuban-American professional boxer known for his remarkable achievements in multiple weight classes. He currently holds the WBA middleweight title, a title he claimed in 2021. Before this, he had an illustrious career holding various versions of the WBA light middleweight title from 2014 to 2021 and the IBO light middleweight title twice from 2015 to 2021. As of May 2022, Lara ranks as the fifth-best active middleweight in the world according to BoxRec.
Lara is highly regarded for his exceptional technical skills, making him one of the most technically gifted fighters in contemporary boxing. His journey in boxing began as the captain of the Cuban national amateur team, where he showcased his remarkable talent. He achieved a gold medal in the welterweight division at the 2005 World Championships and secured three consecutive Cuban national championships from 2005 to 2007, cementing his status as a formidable amateur boxer.
During his amateur career, Lara faced some formidable opponents, including two-time world champion Lorenzo Aragón, whom he lost to four times in 2003 and 2004. However, when Aragon stepped down, Lara’s career trajectory shifted. He repeatedly bested his countryman Yudel Jhonson Cedeno, earning himself a spot in the world championships. There, he avenged an earlier loss to Russian boxer Andrey Balanov, defeated American Boyd Melson, caused an upset by defeating the top favorite and Olympic champion Bakhtiyar Artayev with a score of 31–22, and ultimately clinched the gold medal by triumphing over Magomed Nurutdinov from Belarus.
Lara did face setbacks in his amateur career, including two losses to another Kazakh boxer, Bakhyt Sarsekbayev. However, in their only encounter, he managed to defeat American world champion Demetrius Andrade with a score of 9–4.
Erislandy Lara’s journey from his amateur days to his current standing as a world champion exemplifies his incredible talent, determination, and ability to overcome challenges in the world of professional boxing.