PBC’s Recent Slide Continues: Erislandy Lara, Artur Beterbiev Win Mismatches

Even with a stable the size of boxing manager Al Haymon’s, even if you assume the most generous posture toward the PBC series, the frequency of the cards means that there are going to be some dead spots on the schedule. Friday’s Spike show was the second consecutive PBC card that was very nearly not worth even having, even if it was a slight step up from last weekend’s slate of mismatches.

Erislandy Lara dominated Delvin Rodriguez, no better than a fringe junior middleweight contender at his best and years removed from that time anyway. The mismatch was obvious from the opening seconds. At one point commentator Antonio Tarver offered that Rodriguez came in with the wrong game plan, as if that was his problem. Nah, talent was the main problem. Lara dropped Rodriguez with a straight left in the 6th, and even though he was exposed to low-to-no risk, the Cuban never bothered to throw more punches than he felt he needed to for the decision, which he won by a shutout. At times, Rodriguez was just standing in front of Lara, doing nothing, and could not have made Lara pay with a counter if he tried. And still Lara waited. You can occasionally drag Lara into a good fight, and his ability and skill are formidable, but fights like this — he earns his “boring” reputation, which on Friday wasn’t even offset by him winning skillfully against top competition. And he did nothing to make anyone much desire fights featuring him against the big names he wants, like Floyd Mayweather or Gennady Golovkin, even if he poses a legitimate challenge to both men on paper.

On the undercard, light heavyweight puncher Artur Beterbiev got unexpectedly dragged into the late rounds against Alexander Johnson before stopping him in the 7th. Johnson had two rounds where he backed Beterbiev up, which anyone who might fight Beterbiev will want to note; Beterbiev is an authentic contender by virtue of whom he’s defeated, but he also is an inexperienced pro. Otherwise, Beterbiev had his way, knocking down Johnson four times with a variety of punches that demonstrated his considerable offense. The fight maybe should’ve been stopped at the end of the 5th, but Johnson bounced back in the 6th. It was short-lived. If division champ Adonis Stevenson isn’t going to fight Sergey Kovalev or vice versa, Beterbiev is the next best match-up for the king.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.