With the way junior middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara was landing clean left hands Wednesday night, nothing was going to stop him.
Not even the weather, apparently.
After rain delayed the start of the outdoor fight at the Hialeah Park Race Track in Hialeah, Florida, Lara provided a storm of his own for veteran Jan Zaveck to contend with.
Lara (22-2-2, 13 KOs), a native of Cuba, wobbled Zaveck in the opening round and maintained pressure en route to a third-round TKO. But the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on ESPN came to an end under bizarre circumstances.
After Zaveck (35-4, 19 KOs) was stunned by an overhand left that split his guard, he reached out awkwardly to touch gloves. Lara responded with a two-punch combination along the ropes, and after Zaveck partially turned his back on the action, referee Telis Assimenios jumped in to call the fight at 41 seconds of Round 3.
"I hit [Zaveck] with a great shot to the chin and froze his whole body," Lara said. "He was complaining about pain in his ear and his leg, but the bottom line is I got the win."
Zaveck held his right shoulder in pain while doctors examined him in the ring after the fight. He later told ESPN's Bernardo Osuna he was suffering from muscle spasms at the time of the stoppage after being hit with a punch to the side of his neck.
A former welterweight titlist, Zaveck maintained he never quit but was unsure whether he would have been able to continue because of injury.
"I knew I could try to fight on and land a lucky punch, but that was a small possibility," Zaveck said. "It was probably better to stop and fight another day. I have never been injured like this before. It is very strange. The pain is surging."
A brief break in the weather between passing storms allowed state athletic officials to start the fight after the ring crew used a tarp and leaf blowers to keep the fighting surface dry.
The bout showcased a much more offensive version of Lara, who used his size and speed advantage to outclass Zaveck from the opening bell with jabs and overhand lefts. Lara, who made the third defense of his 154-pound title, outlanded Zaveck 52-17, according to CompuBox.
"I just wanted to come out tonight and show everyone that I'm not going anywhere. I'm here to stay," Lara said. "My punches were very precise tonight, and when I got him hurt, I did what I had to do and got him out of there."
Zaveck, 39, snapped a three-fight win streak with the loss, in his second straight fight above 147 pounds. The native of Slovenia, who fights out of Germany, won a welterweight world title in 2010 and made three defenses before losing to Andre Berto the following year.
"I felt good in there before [the injury]," Zaveck said. "I tried to surprise him by fighting him in close, but I was taking too many punches and he has very good power."
Lara, 32, lost a debated split decision to middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez in a 155-pound catchweight bout in 2014. But he has maintained in recent months he is ready to move up to 160 for the right fight, whether it be a rematch with Alvarez or a showdown with unbeaten unified titlist Gennady Golovkin.
"Canelo doesn't want to see me because he knows I beat him in the first fight," Lara said. "And GGG [Golovkin] can come get it if he wants as well. I'm ready to fight anybody at 154 to 160 pounds. Bring on the best."