The Psychological Relentlessness of Erislandy Lara
Written by Tae Joon Kim
Erislandy Lara’s chess match against Austin Trout exemplified a grandmaster of psychological strategy and manipulation. Lara was able to take command of every aspect of the boxing match against Lara as, right from the first round, he controlled distance, Trout’s punch output, Trout’s emotions and fired his own offensive at will as he accumulatively damaged Trout’s chin.
This was no surprise as Erislandy Lara is considered by many to be one of the most clever and cerebral boxers of contemporary times.
Although neither fighter was particularly dominant in Round One, Lara immediately seized mastery over the pace right from the get go. Beginning in Round Two, it became clear that Lara’s reactions to Austin Trout’s offensive would not give away any openings, as Lara kept things simple and utilized subtle slips and slides with his shoulder to avoid Trout’s offensive. He never overexerted his evasive movement to overuse his energy nor permit Trout to capitalize on any defensive mistakes.
An intriguing subtle difference between the two offensively, which became apparent starting in Round Two, was the confidence with which both opponents had behind their jabs.
When Trout was able to calmly slip from Lara’s jabs, Lara didn’t take “no” for an answer. Lara would follow up his own missed jab with a further offensive assault and with great success! On the other hand, when Trout failed to land his own jab, which typically ended up landing on Lara’s arm, he did not follow up with a successive combination. At this point very early in the fight, Lara already asserted his subtle yet nonetheless overwhelming relentless offense whenever such moments would arise. With great self-restraint, Lara also still kept the punching output of both himself and Trout to a minimal, so that the continual repetition of the fight’s momentum would continue to be in his favor, and thus make for an increasing succession of psychological pressure on the part of Lara’s tactics.
In the Fifth Round, Trout- after failing to apply pressure to Lara and falling victim to his pace- had attempted to throw a combination with multiple hooks to the head, but keeping his calm, Lara knew exactly what to do as- at this point- he had everything under control. Lrara simply stepped back and raised his high guard, so even during rare moments of Trout attacking as he pushed himself to the edge of his will, Lara would not allow himself to be overwhelmed by Trout’s emotional game, thus strictly forcing himself to keep playing an objective and calculative game while Trout at this point had no choice but to rely on guts and instinct. After all, no one can beat today can beat Erislandy Lara at a chess match.
The frustrating nature of this match from Trout’s viewpoint was that whenever he would try to execute on his offense, Lara would utilize very simple and minimalist movements to either evade or defend his punches. Lara was more evasive/defensive than he was reliant on counters (though whenever he did counter, they usually delivered devastating consequences for Trout!)
For a majority of Trout’s offensive attempts, these are all what Lara had to do to keep things frustratingly simple:
1. Step Back.
2. Block with shoulder.
4. For combinations, block with the high guard.
These reactions were utilized in very high repetition monotonously throughout the fight, all the while as Lara kept calm and attacked at will. For Lara to be able to stick to these fundamental reactions for the entirety of twelve consecutive rounds, without overexerting himself, is simply tactical and psychological brilliance.
For Trout, it must have been as if almost every single one of his punches were futile, as Lara didn’t look to even be trying.
Lara, just like other cerebral boxers such as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Guillermo Rigondeaux, Wladimir Klitschko and Andre Ward, is able to maintain a minimalist nature to his fights despite the potential brutalities involved in the ring. This reveals a very gifted mind in Lara who understands that to break the will of the opponent before him, he must be the master of his own mind, able to explore and potentiate the depths of his fighting style and creativity as he maintains serenity and objectivity.
For all twelve rounds, Erislandy Lara was psychologically relentless and unforgiving.
With multiple straight lefts landing on Trout’s chin in successive accumulation, complemented by the psychological breakdown of Trout for the entirety of the fight, all lead to a phenomenal knockdown in the eleventh round. This was not achieved by mere power. These were the results of Lara’s long-term investments of straight lefts, intense focus, incredible calm, simple and fundamental evasion, and manipulation of the fight’s rhythm.
Erislandy Lara is simply one of the greatest tacticians of the sport today and deserves to fight another big name as soon as possible!