Erislandy Lara got the fight that he and his team wanted in the end.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the WBA has approved a request for Lara to move forward with a voluntary title defense versus former two-division titlist Danny Garcia. The ruling comes in lieu of a previously ordered mandatory title defense versus Australia’s Michael Zerafa who will land the winner of the summertime title fight, which is due to take place August 5.
“The company TGB Promotions sent the request to the entity, which was studied in-depth to determine the most appropriate decision,” WBA Championship Committee chairman Carlos Chavez confirmed in a letter to all parties. “Team Zerafa was consulted and after arduous negotiations it was possible to reach an agreement between both parties. According to the WBA rules in section C.16, it states that the body may modify the periods of mandatory defenses for good cause, either in response to a request for a Special Permit, or on its own initiative.
“On the other hand, rule C.46.a states that the WBA may modify or suspend the strict application of these rules when the WBA deems it justified in its sole discretion to accommodate special circumstances. The rules also state that the agency may require conditions for granting a permit. In this case, the committee decided to grant the request to the Lara team as long as they comply with all championship rules.”
A location was not specified for the event, though the likely destination is Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. As previously reported by Boxing Scene, earlier talks suggested the bout could take place at a catchweight between the junior middleweight and full middleweight limit.
Lara’s last fight took place at that very venue last May 28, when he scored a one-sided, an eighth-round stoppage of the spectacularly mustachioed but marginally talented Irish middleweight Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan.
The win represented the lone successful defense of the WBA ‘Regular’ title he claimed in a May 2021 first-round knockout of South Jersey boxing legend Thomas ‘Cornflake’ LaManna.
Lara-Zerafa was first ordered by the WBA on March 14, with the two sides given 30 days to reach terms. The fight came into play immediately after Gennadiy Golovkin relinquished his WBA ‘Super’ title, as he no longer saw the value in proceeding with a title consolidation bout versus Lara (29-3-3, 17KOs).
The ordered mandatory title fight versus Zerafa (31-4, 19KOs) momentarily disrupted plans for Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) to stage a Lara-Garcia fight. That matter was since rectified, as Zerafa is assured first dibs at the WBA middleweight title, whether the winner of the August 5 fight or Lara should the bout fail to produce a winner.
Garcia has yet to fight at middleweight and only moved up to junior middleweight for his most recent outing, a points win over Jose Benavidez Jr. last July 30 at Barclays. The bout was the first for Philadelphia’s Garcia (37-3, 21KOs) since a December 2020 defeat to unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. in Arlington, Texas.
Garcia previously held the lineal, WBC and WBA junior welterweight championship before vacating all at separate points to compete at welterweight. He went on to capture the vacant WBC welterweight title in a January 2016 victory over Robert Guerrero, but never successfully defended as he dropped a split decision to Keith Thurman in their March 2017 unification bout. Two bids to reclaim welterweight title status resulted in a September 2018 defeat to Shawn Porter and his aforementioned loss to Spence.
As the logistics are sorted out for Lara-Garcia, Zerafa can proceed with his career at his leisure before his expected title shot before year’s end.
“In the case of Zerafa, he may make an optional fight against a body-approved contender while awaiting a world title fight in his mandatory challenger’s position,” confirmed Chavez.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox