WBA champion Erislandy Lara meets 2012 Olympian Terrell Gausha, WBC champ Jermell Charlo takes on top contender Erickson Lubin and IBF titleholder Jarrett Hurd faces former champion Austin Trout tonight on a Showtime title tripleheader at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Here’s something you don’t see everyday: six of the world's top 154-pounders fighting For three world championships on the same card.
All three matchups feature at least one participant faced with the burden of entering their biggest challenge to date, yet also carries the suggestion of pick-‘em affairs.
The entire lineup also carries the caveat of not just winning the bout, but making enough of an impression to entice the fellow victors into title unification clashes in 2018.
So how can anyone claim the Premier Boxing Champions' superwelterweight title fight tripleheader on Showtime (which airs live at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) is anything short of must-see TV?
The answer is: You can’t.
It’s not just three titles on the line over the course of the evening at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, but all three carry future implications. The round-robin nature of the show means that the winners of each bout will see each other down the line in a battle to determine supremacy in the 154-pound division.
Erislandy Lara, in the seventh defense of his version of the 154-pound crown, faces unbeaten 2012 U.S. Olympian and current rising contender Terrell Gausha in the main event. Gausha joins Jarrett Hurd and Erickson Lubin as young hungry lions stepping up in class, even though Hurd is a champion making his first title defense.
Like Gausha, Lubin is putting his unbeaten record on the line in his first crack at a world title. Lubin, a former amateur standout and rising superstar, challenges champion Jermell Charlo, who is making his second title defense in a matchup of undefeated super welterweights. The bout is pegged by many experts as not just a 50/50 match, but a pairing of styles that has the makings of a Fight of the Year contender.
Hurd is the lone wolf of the show. He is the champion stepping up in class in the first defense of the title he won earlier this year. The unbeaten Maryland resident faces former champ Austin Trout in a clash of youth versus experience. Trout is searching for one more (or one last) taste of the championship life, while Hurd hopes to stake his claim as a major player in a division on the threshold of crowning a clear-cut leader.
Lara (24-2-2, 14 KOs), the longest-reigning champion in the division, already believes that slot is filled and with a win on Saturday it will be confirmed. He claimed his title against Alfredo Angulo on June 8, 2013 and made his first defense against Trout at Barclays Center on Dec. 7, 2013.
“I'm going to have to show a little bit of everything: show my boxing, and show my power,’’ Lara said. “I will show everybody I'm the best in the 154-pound division, and I'm here for a long time.”
“ I will show everybody I'm the best in the 154-pound division, and I'm here for a long time. ” WBA 154-pound world champion Erislandy Lara
Gausha (20-0, 9 KOs) was only three fights into his pro career when Lara, who turned away former champ Yuri Foreman in his most recent title defense this past January. Still, the unbeaten Cleveland resident believes he is ready for this moment and views the matchup not as a major step up in class but the perfect platform to showcase his full potential.
“This is going to be my best performance to date and I look to be sharp and focused,” said Gausha, who climbed off the canvas to outpoint Luis Hernandez this past February in Toledo, two hours from his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. “I love the competition and the tough challenges, and I look to be at point on Saturday night.’’
Gausha was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team with Errol Spence, Jr. and Rau’shee Warren, who have gone on to win world championships. Gausha said it’s time for the young guns to stand tall in boxing.
That sentiment is shared by Hurd and Lubin, who firmly believe youth will prevail over experience on this loaded night in Brooklyn.
“This is the fight I've been waiting for and that I've wanted, so I'm ready to fight,” said Hurd (20-0, 14KOs). "I really want to go out here and make a statement and be the first to stop Austin Trout and send him into retirement.”
Barclays Center is the lone venue where Trout feels his only true career defeat took place, never disputing the outcome of his Dec. 2013 loss to Lara. Trout (30-3, 17 KOs) firmly believes he was wronged in questionable decisions at the hands of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Jermall Charlo (Jermell’s twin brother, whom outpointed Trout last May). This latest title shot comes with the additional challenge of exorcising past demons for the 32-year-old from Las Cruces, New Mexico.
“I have a lot of family and friends and fond memories in Brooklyn, but probably the only guy on this show who can’t boast a good experience at Barclays,” said Trout. “But I’m thrilled to come back here, as I get to create new memories, one that will include my returning to the championship circle and then collecting all the belts in 2018 against the other winners on Saturday.”
The evening’s chief support is a battle of undefeated warriors. It’s also the one match where both sides are fighting for more than just a title, but to provide hope for hometowns ravaged by tragic hurricanes in recent times. Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) is also fighting for his hometown of Houston.
In his last appearance at Barclays Center, Charlo knocked out Charles Hatley in the fourth round.
“I told my brother [Jermall] that I'm competing with one of his knockouts against an undefeated fighter (Julian Williams last December),’’ Charlo said. “It's not about the world title because my city needs it. My family needs it. My son loves it. Therefore, I've got my life on the line."
The 22-year-old Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs) who lives in Orlando, Florida shares that sentiment. He relocated his training camp from Florida to Hackensack, N.J. as Hurricane Irma barreled toward Orlando.
“This means everything. I'll be a big, huge inspiration to Orlando,” said Lubin. “I am already a huge inspiration to Orlando. I can't wait to bring it back to Orlando to give more people hope to go out there and do something positive.”