More than just a fighter, Erickson Lubin is a boxing junkie. He watches everything. He sees everything. He knows everything – no matter the weight class.
So of course he was watching on June 25, 2016. That was when, before Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter squared off in a Fight of the Year-caliber welterweight title fight, fellow 154-pound prospect Jarrett Hurd got his chance to shine and announce his presence to the world in a co-main event watched by millions at home on CBS.
Hurd took advantage of the opportunity with a 10th round stoppage of unbeaten Oscar Molina, and less than a year later earned his first world title shot. Lubin gets a similar springboard opportunity Saturday night in a 154-pound world title eliminator bout against Jorge Cota, which serves as the co-feature to a 147-pound world title unification bout between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on CBS, presented by Premier Boxing Champions, Saturday March 4 from Barclays Center. The broadcast begins at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT on Saturday.
“I don’t just want to win. I want to make a statement and show the world and the 154-pound division why I deserve to be at the top and have one of the titles,” Lubin said. “I plan on making a bigger statement than Jarrett Hurd did. He kind of set the bar in that fight on CBS. I’m here to exceed that, give the fans a better show. I plan on stealing the show that night.”
Stealing the show from one of the most anticipated main event bouts of 2017 will not be an easy task, but if there’s a young fighter whose raw talents can make it happen, that would be Lubin.
Since turning pro in 2013 at just 18 years old, Lubin has been tabbed as one of the sport’s future stars. Now with his record at 17-0 (12 KO), he’s on the verge of fulfilling those prophecies. His style and prodigious power in both hands have steadily helped his profile grow.
In 2016 his climb included winning four fights. It was the least impressive of those performances that he now says taught him the most.
After a stunning third round stoppage of Daniel Sandoval in front of a large NBC audience on June 18, he was brought back into the ring four weeks later on FOX against Ivan Montero. But after letting loose in the wake of the Sandoval fight, Lubin went into the Montero bout without the luxury of a full training camp, and it showed, despite taking a dominant 8-round unanimous decision victory home.
“That definitely taught me just to be patient,” he said. “I’m still happy I got as many fights as I could last year. This year, I’m going to take my time, because the fights are going to be harder and on bigger stages. I’m going to take my time and have a full camp. That fight with Montero, I just went in there trying to knock him out. With a full camp to prepare, I might have been more relaxed and calm about it.”
The poor taste the Montero fight left in his mouth, combined with personal loss, reset his focus for his final fight of the year.
In November, Lubin’s long-time cutman – Todd Harlib – tragically passed away, leaving Lubin without a man who had been in his corner since he was 11 years old.
“Todd was there and did everything for us. He was a great man, and to lose him so early cut hard on us,” Lubin said. “We couldn’t lose focus. We had to do it for him. I dedicate each and every fight to him.
“I remember him being with us in the amateurs, and he paid for the tournaments I couldn’t afford to go to. There were tournaments I thought I’d miss, and Todd came in and helped me out. I thought about it like this: He paid all this money for me to come out here, $1,000 plus. I definitely have to win this tournament.”
More times than not he did. And he showed that same attitude in taking care of Juan Ubaldo Cabrera via second round knockout on Dec. 10. He did so while wearing scarlet and grey trunks, a tribute to his former cutman who attended Ohio State University.
Immediately following his December bout, Lubin was informed of his major opportunity against Cota, diving right into dogged preparation.
The 154-pound division right now is one of the most talent-rich weight classes in the sport. The Lubin-Cota winner will be in line to soon contend for the belt held by Jermell Charlo, who defends against Charles Hatley on March 11. There is also a crowded pool of champions & contenders all around. In a lengthy chess match, with all of the pieces trying to position themselves, Lubin has his chance to make his first big move Saturday night.
“Jermell said I need about six more fights to fight him, so I’m about to give him an early surprise,” Lubin said. “It’s not six fights. It’s one more fight, then I get Jermell Charlo.
“I plan on knocking (Cota) out. And if he doesn’t want to go, I’ll punish him for 12 rounds.”