On Saturday, October 14 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York the venue’s 7,643 fans abruptly rose to their feet, at 2:41 of Round 1, for all the wrong reasons for Super Welterweight contender Erickson Lubin.
Just thirteen days after celebrating his 22nd birthday, top-ranked Super Welterweight Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin (18-1, 13 KOs) entered the ring to challenge WBC world champion Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs) in his shot at a world title.
Lubin’s confidence in both his readiness and ability remained steadfast through all the media activity over the final weeks and days leading up to the fight. The unbeaten southpaw from Orlando, Florida even looked composed over the first two minutes of the opening round. The action remained highly tactical as the two fighters traded range-finding jabs, added in some feints and worked from behind their guard.
Suddenly Charlo changed up his rhythm and quickly closed the distance on Lubin behind a double jab that caused the 2016 ESPN.com prospect of the year to bend over to point where he briefly lost sight of the champion. Charlo slid slightly to his left, and finished off Lubin with a smashing right uppercut that left the challenger badly disoriented on the canvas. Lubin’s apparent convulsions forced referee Harvey Dock to discontinue his 10-count around five to stop the fight, as the 22-year old miraculously managed to get back to his feet.
What’s next for Lubin after such a stunning defeat?
Was the fight too soon for the young fighter?
Can we criticize him for chasing greatness and being too audacious?
Lubin pressing for a world title is pretty consistent with what we’ve recently seen in the landscape. Undefeated Ohioan Robert Easter, Jr. defeated Richard Commey in September 2016 to win the vacant IBF world Lightweight title at age 25 in his 17th fight. At the top of 2017, Gervonta Davis at age 22 became the youngest American world champion by destroying Jose Pedraza for the IBF world Super Featherweight title. Davis’ mentor Floyd Mayweather Jr, a fighter Lubin’s studied extensively, won his first world title at 21 years old in October 1998 after Genaro Hernandez’s corner stopped the fight after the 8th round – that was bout No. 17 for Mayweather.
The fact of the matter is, Lubin’s path to his first title was much more difficult than those of Davis and Easter. Charlo is clearly in the prime of his career, and trainer Derrick James’ tutelage has the Houston native’s power punching trending beyond lethal.
Despite the fact that Lubin took an extremely forceful blow from a powerful puncher in a vulnerable spot on the side of the head, Lubin is now being labeled as a chinny fighter. He was also down in the first round against Norberto Gonzalez in 2014. This is still debatable until we see how he responds to contact when he returns.
After comparing Lubin to a few success stories in his peers Davis and Easter Jr, let’s look to an example of a fighter reclaiming his career and promise following a first round knockout loss. That case study would be former WBC world Super Middleweight champion, and current WBA world Light Heavyweight champion, Badou Jack.
Jack was 30 years old, and knocked down twice in the first round, when he was stopped by a desperate Derek Edwards in February 2014. However, Jack responded to his first professional loss by developing into one of the most resilient and courageous fighters currently in the game. He’s recently fought in grueling, action-packed fights with Lucian Bute and James DeGale. Jack got up off the canvas in round one to seize control of the fight and floor DeGale in the 12th, only to disappointingly settle for a disputable majority draw.
There is a template out there for Lubin to follow, and still complete a successful career based on his athleticism, power and speed.
His immediate comment following the crushing loss sounds like he plans to remain resolute in his pursuit of title, “This is boxing and I got caught with a nice shot on the chin and couldn’t recover in time. I didn’t see the punch coming, so I have no excuses. I’m young and have plenty of fight left in me. This is just a minor setback. I’ll be back sooner than later and hungrier than ever.”
I’m young and have plenty of fight left in me. This is just a minor setback.
Lubin now finds himself in the loser’s bracket at 154-pounds, and maybe if his team is confident there’s no lingering effects from the Charlo loss, he could resume his campaign with a bout against the rebounding Justin DeLoach. Other options include Erislandy Lara’s opponent from Saturday night Terrell Gausha, or if Julian Williams is a fighter Lubin’s camp sees as an opponent in an possible eliminator scenario at some point, they could target his return opponent Joshua Conley.
A slower 2018 could serve Lubin well long-term, but it’s likely he decides to go against the grain and sets himself up with a bigger name in mid- to late-2018. Peer pressure may still be too much an overpowering motivational factor for a fighter who earned his way onto the big stage so quickly.
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