Erickson Lubin Seeks Redemption

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Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime

After suffering his first loss last October, Erickson Lubin is ready to restart his career and fulfill his destiny of becoming a world champion.

Meant for Boxing

Born on October 1, 1995 in Orlando, Florida, Lubin’s first sport was karate. He enjoyed the martial art, but his stay was short as he was too physical with the other participants prompting his instructor to recommend he try boxing instead.

Thankfully for Lubin, his older brother, Michael, was an amateur fighter. When Michael trained for his fights, Erickson tagged along with him to the boxing gym. He loved every trip.

The four-year-old Lubin was often seen punching the heavy bag or swatting the speed bag, mimicking everything his brother did because he wanted to be just like him.

“I kept asking to box and to go in the ring with him,” Lubin said to ESPN. “I watched him train. It looked fun.”

With his heart set on the sweet science, Lubin was determined to be the best.

Amateur Career

Lubin began his amateur career at eight-years-old and went on to be a major force under the tutelage of trainer Jason Galarza.

Galarza first saw the southpaw when he was sparring at 10-years-old. He knew from then Lubin would be special.

“The kid’s confidence level is what makes him so good,” Galarza told the Deseret News. “He believes that he will lose to no one.”

Training out of Galarza’s two-car garage in Orlando, Lubin won numerous accolades establishing himself as a future star.

He won the Junior Olympics twice, becoming the first Florida fighter to accomplish the feat, and the Police Athletic League (PAL) championship in 2012 competing in the men’s open division.

He also captured the Independence Cup championship in 2013, where he scored an upset victory over 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Yasniel Toledo of Cuba, as well as the U.S. National Golden Gloves title in the same year competing in a heavier weight class at 152-pounds compared to his normal weight of 141-pounds.

The Florida native finished his outstanding amateur career with a 143-7 record.

Turning Down the Olympics

Considered USA Boxing’s best hope for a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, Lubin spurned the Games to sign a promotional deal with the now-defunct Iron Mike Productions on his 18th birthday.

His decision drew public criticism from USA Boxing as the organization accused Mike Tyson of stealing America’s top amateur fighter and requested that he stop pursuing young athletes so they can follow their Olympic dreams.

“You are offering these athletes pennies on the dollar of what they could be worth with an Olympic medal, or even potentially just being an Olympian,” USA Boxing President Charles Butler wrote in his open letter to Tyson. “You also undermining the next United States Olympic Boxing Team in the process.”

Lubin’s choice to turn pro and bypass an opportunity to represent the U.S. wasn’t easy, especially since the program hasn’t reached the podium since Deontay Wilder won bronze in 2008. But he felt it was the right decision and has no regrets about it.

“I spoke to my team and my coach, and we felt that was our Olympic gold-medal win, beating [Yasniel Toledo],” Lubin expressed to ESPN. “So we met with a few promoters. I went into the pros hot. I had just won the 2013 Golden Gloves. That stuff from USA Boxing didn’t bother me too much. It made me feel special and it gave me a lot of exposure.”

With a strong team behind him, Lubin was prepared for the next chapter of his young career.

Professional Career

Making his debut in the 154-pound junior middleweight division in 2013, Lubin set out to become a world champion.

After winning his first pro bout with a third round knockout of Eric De Jesus (1-1, 1 KO), he continued to trounce the competition in 2014.

Lubin won his next four fights, all of them by knockout, before facing veteran Noe Bolanos (24-10-1, 16 KOs) in July. He went the distance in the eight round scrap and swept the scorecards to earn a unanimous decision victory.

He followed up the win with a first round knockout of Francisco Javier Reza (12-11, 9 KOs) the next month and a decision over Norberto Gonzalez (20-7, 13 KOs) in November.

In 2015, Lubin proved he’s one of boxing’s most promising young talents, scoring five wins in as many fights.

Among them were four consecutive stoppages: first round knockouts of Kenneth Council (8-1, 8 KOs) and Ayi Bruce (23-10, 15 KOs), a sixth round knockout of Orlando Lora (31-6-2, 19 KOs), and a second round knockout of Alexis Camacho (21-6, 19 KOs).

Lubin’s success carried over into 2016 as he demonstrated his superior skills against quality opposition with a combined record of 99-9-2.

His wins over Jose De Jesus Macias (18-5-2, 9 KOs), Daniel Sandoval (38-4, 35 KOs), Ivan Montero (20-2, 8 KOs), and Juan Ubaldo Cabrera (23-2, 15 KOs) earned him Prospect of the Year honors from ESPN, The Ring Magazine, and Premier Boxing Champions.

Closing in on his first world title shot, Lubin, nicknamed “Hammer,” squared off against Jorge Cota in an official 154-pound title elimination bout in March 2017. The southpaw controlled the fight from the opening bell and finished Cota (25-2, 22 KOs) with a left hand bomb in the fourth round to become the mandatory challenger to WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo.

Title Shot

With a chance to claim his first belt at only 22-years-old, Lubin’s happy he passed on the Olympics.

“I have no regrets. This is my gold medal right here, this is my Olympic gold medal,” Lubin said at his post-fight press conference, referring to his WBC medal. “Me and my team made a decision not to stay in the amateurs. They were taking off the headgears and stuff like that, and we feel we made the right decision cause we came up and we was fighting good opposition just so young at 18-years-old. And I feel like the fights I had in the past prepared for tonight and moving on further.”

Undefeated at 18-0, with 13 knockouts, “Hammer” did most of the talking leading up to the fight. He was ready to shine on the national stage and show he was better than Charlo despite his youth.

“He’s a fool if he thinks I’m not ready for this type of fight,” Lubin told BoxingScene.com. “I’m better than anyone he has ever faced and I’m gonna show that October 14th. I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna expose him. I’m gonna expose him. I see a lot of flaws in his game that I can expose. Me, being just 21, this is the fight that’s gonna make me into a superstar and this is the fight that’s gonna break him.”

Unfortunately, the questions many people, including Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs), had about Lubin’s age were validated as the titleholder connected on a right uppercut in the first round that knocked out the young challenger in October 2017.

Tasting defeat for the first time since the amateurs, Lubin made no excuses about his performance and promised he’d be back.

“I got caught with a nice shot on the chin and couldn’t recover in time,” Lubin voiced to ESPN. “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.”

Comeback

With his dream of becoming a world champion shattered two minutes and 41 seconds into the opening round, everything changed. Lubin (18-1, 13 KOs), who’s been tabbed for stardom since he turned pro in 2013 and ascending in the 154-pound division, was now faced with adversity for the first time in the paid ranks.

After the loss, he took a break from boxing to be with his family and newborn son, Malachi. He also used the time off to think about what he could’ve done better.

“I didn’t really watch the fight at first,” Lubin expressed to Premier Boxing Champions. “It took a couple of weeks for me to watch it because I kind of didn’t want to see it. But one of the first things I wanted to see was where I went wrong.”

Fully recharged and refocused, Lubin’s intent on keeping the promise he made to himself before he turned pro of winning a world title.

The 22-year-old is willing to take on any challengers to prove he’s still a top 154-pound contender.

“I want to fight anybody,” Lubin stated to Premier Boxing Champions. “There is no one person I wouldn’t be ready for. I’ve got that mindset that I’ll fight anybody out there in the 154-pound division. I have blood in my eyes, so I want to fight a big name next. I definitely want somebody they claim is among the best in the division.”

With his combination of technical skills and physical abilities, there’s no doubt Lubin will return to the ring a better fighter and develop into the star he’s destined to be.

I’m ready to knockout my next opponent” and “terrorize everybody at 154-pounds.”