Undefeated Erickson Lubin has no regret after passing on Olympic medal shot

Combat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Erickson Lubin, left, fights against Noe Bolanos during a boxing match on July 10, 2014. (AP file photo)
Erickson Lubin, left, fights against Noe Bolanos during a boxing match on July 10, 2014. (AP file photo)

Under only slightly different circumstances, Erickson Lubin would have an Olympic gold medal in the trophy case, would be early in his pro career and would be America’s darling.

Lubin just turned 22 and should still be learning the ways of professional boxing. He pulled on a pair of gloves for the first time when he was 4 and by the time he was 8, it was obvious that he was different from the rest of the kids.

He was on the fast track to greatness most of his life, but at 18, Lubin decided that Olympic glory wasn’t for him. He was 143-7 as an amateur and would have been a medal favorite had he opted to stay amateur and pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team.

Given that in the last 25 years, only two American men have won Olympic gold medals (Oscar De La Hoya in 1992 and Andre Ward in 2004), Lubin would have cemented himself as a star prior to turning pro had he done so in Rio de Janeiro.

But in 2013, when he turned 18, Lubin eschewed the gold medal opportunity and turned pro.

He’s one of the best prospects in the game – one of its best fighters, period – and he’ll have the opportunity to end the questions that surrounded his decision when on Saturday he fights Jermell Charlo on Showtime at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for Charlo’s WBC super welterweight belt.

While Lubin has fought solid opposition by boxing standards for a young prospect on the rise, the 29-0 Charlo is head and shoulders above anyone Lubin has ever faced. He is not concerned, though, that it’s too much, too soon.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

“I know I’m ready because, like I said before, I came into the game and I fought no opponents with a losing record,”said Lubin, who is 18-0 with 13 knockouts as a professional. “Everybody I fought had a positive record, some undefeated guys, some guys who had just one loss. I fought all types of guys. I have a great amateur background. I won pretty much every amateur tournament out there. I’ve been undefeated since I was 13 years old.

“I’m just confident. I’ve been training real hard and I’m just ready to show the world who I really am. I don’t think I’ve really shown the world who Erickson ‘Hammer’ Lubin is yet. Some of these fights have been a little bit too easy for me. And I’m glad they put this opponent in front of me, in Jermell Charlo, where I can actually showcase my talent, my real skills. I’m extra motivated to be fighting for a world title.”

Boxing is a sport that thrives on stars and larger-than-life personalities, and Lubin is a potential star with a big personality.

One of the things that makes Lubin different from most elite prospects is that he has undoubtedly fought a better caliber of opposition. While there are no superstars on his list of victims and few names anyone other than the hardest of hard core boxing fans would know, Lubin’s level of opponent was better than most.

Lubin’s opponents in his 18 wins have a combined record 298-74-10, a .793 winning percentage. The great Floyd Mayweather, by contrast, fought opponents who were 234-107-14 in his first 18 bouts, a winning percentage of .679. In his 18th bout, Mayweather stopped Genaro Hernandez to win his first world title.

Facing opponents who are used to winning brings an entirely different level of challenge, Lubin said.

And those opponents, he said, helped him to be ready to meet a quality veteran like Charlo.

“Well, his [twin] brother [Jermall Charlo] was fighting dudes that I already beat and already fought, like Norberto Gonzalez, Michael Finney,” Lubin said. “His brother was fighting those guys after me as well as Noe Bolanos, who [IBF welterweight champion] Errol Spence even fought after me. I feel like I came up the right way. I fought the veterans real young. I fought Noe Bolanos at just 5-0. And I just came up real tough in my career.

“If you look at anybody in boxing, it’s tough to fight guys with a winning record no matter what they look like. I make all my opponents look like nobody. So that’s why they might say they’re nobodies but I make them look like it. I feel like I came up the right way. I fought guys with experience. I fought hard hitters. I fought all types of guys. So I’m definitely ready for this fight. I prepared myself physically as well as mentally.”

He has the gaudy record, he has the good one-liners and he has the confidence that comes with a lifetime of winning.

Now, it all comes down to one fight, albeit one against a guy who is by far and away the best he’s ever faced. And though he’s the challenger, Lubin said the outcome will come down to what he does in the ring.

“It’s not about what he does,” Lubin said. “It’s about what I do. I believe in my skill. I’m very talented. I know this. And like I said before, it’s not what he does.

“I think I’m a star already. I just proved it in my last fight at Barclays Center. Everybody loves me. I’m young, I’m 22 years old. I’m definitely trying to, like I said before, I’m going out there trying to make a statement and get the knockout. But if it goes 12 rounds, I plan on dominating the fight.”

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