Lara: Castana hasn’t fought anyone on my level

Erislandy Lara lost his last fight, has exited his physical prime and hasn’t boxed in nearly 11 months.

None of that will matter Saturday night, according to Lara. The skillful southpaw realizes Brian Castano is an undefeated defending champion, but Lara doesn’t feel anything Castano has done since he turned pro in September 2012 has prepared him for what he’ll encounter in their 12-round, 154-pound title fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Castano is undefeated, but he hasn’t fought anyone yet,” Lara said Wednesday following an open workout at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. “He’s definitely never fought anyone close to my level. After Saturday night, he won’t be undefeated anymore.”

Argentina’s Castano, 29, won the WBA’s interim super welterweight title when he defeated France’s Michel Soro by split decision in their 12-round fight in July 2017. Castano (15-0, 11 KOs) beat Soro (33-2-1, 22 KOs) on two of three scorecards – 115-113, 115-113, 112-116 – in a bout that was contested in Evian les Bains, France.

Castano since has been elevated to world super welterweight champion by the WBA, which regularly crowns multiple champions in various weight classes.

Jarrett Hurd is the WBA’s true champion at 154 pounds. Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) edged Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) by split decision in their 12-round title unification fight April 7 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Nevertheless, Castano defended his title in his last bout by stopping France’s Cedric Vitu (47-3, 19 KOs) in the 12th round last March 10 in Boulogne-Billancourt, France.

“I have a young, strong opponent that we’ve prepared for,” Lara said. “He’s a world champion and I’m ready for the challenge. Saturday, it’ll be my time to take his belt.”

The Lara-Castano contest will headline Showtime’s three-fight telecast Saturday night.

The broadcast will feature heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz as well. The Cuban-born, Miami-based Ortiz (30-1, 26 KOs, 2 NC) is scheduled to meet Germany’s Christian Hammer (24-5, 14 KOs) in a 10-rounder.

Also Saturday night, Panama’s Bryan De Gracia (24-1-1, 20 KOs) and Mexico’s Eduardo Ramirez (21-1-3, 8 KOs) are set to square off in a 12-round featherweight fight. Showtime’s coverage will begin with the De Gracia-Ramirez match at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

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