Untouched over 12 full rounds, Erislandy Lara put on a clinic against Delvin Rodriguez on Friday night in the second defense of his junior middleweight title.
Lara lived up to expectations as the heavy favorite by cruising to a unanimous decision. All three judges scored it a shutout (120-107) in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions series card at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
A native of Cuba who fights out of Houston, Lara (21-2-2, 12 KOs) put forth a brilliant display of boxing and was never tested. He outlanded the 36-year-old Rodriguez 233 to 63, according to CompuBox, and connected on an astounding 62 percent of his power shots.
"Thanks to my whole team and to Delvin for being a great competitor," Lara said. "Thank you Al Haymon. This was a great performance tonight. I was able to land my left. Delvin was really just trying to survive in there, so I knew what I was doing was working."
Despite dominating, Lara, 32, was booed repeatedly by the crowd in the second half for not actively seeking to end the fight despite holding clear advantages in speed and accuracy.
After Lara figured out Rodriguez's timing early in Round 1 and uncharacteristically sat down on his power shots in the center of the ring, it appeared he was in for a short night when he twice buckled Rodriguez's legs with clean left hands.
"It was very uncomfortable in there for me tonight," Rodriguez said. "He was sharp and giving me lots of weird angles to work with. He was always looking to land his left. He caught me once to the body though and that took three or four rounds to shake off."
Although he was badly outclassed in his third attempt at a world title, Rodriguez (28-8-4, 16 KOs), a native of the Dominican Republic who fights out of Danbury, Connecticut, was allowed to hang around in a fight he didn't have much business being part of.
Lara began to slowly take his foot off the gas as the fight progressed, content to control the bout with his jab after a fast start. But he caught Rodriguez clean with a flush left hand that knocked him down hard late in Round 6.
"I was trying to bait him to come in, but it wasn't working," Lara said. "So I had to get aggressive in there."
Lara, however, stuck to his script by letting his opponent off the hook the following round. Rodriguez, meanwhile, failed to come forward aggressively enough late in the fight to give the passive Lara an opening to finish him.
"It's never a comfortable feeling leaving it up to the judges," Lara said. "I'd like to win every round and get the knockout if possible, but at least I got the win tonight."
Lara scored his second straight victory since losing a split decision to Canelo Alvarez last July in a non-title bout contested at 155 pounds.
"I'm going to sit down with my team and Al [Haymon]," Lara said. "The future is clear: We want Floyd Mayweather, we want Miguel Cotto and we want Gennady Golovkin at 160 pounds."