Clarity Comes to the 154-Pound Division As Champions Head Toward Unification Showdown

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There could be plenty of drama inside and outside of the ring if 154-pound champions Erislandy Lara, Jermell Charlo and Jarrett Hurd decide to unify.

Jermell Charlo

WBC 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo celebrates his first-round knockout of previously unbeaten Erickson Lubin on Saturday, Oct. 14 in Brooklyn, New York. (Stephanie Trapp/Showtime)

The 154-pound championship defenses by Jermell Charlo, Jarrett Hurd and Erislandy Lara at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday sparked talk of a championship unification to determine division supremacy.

The performance of the night came from Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs), a 27-year-old Houston native who transformed his projected “toughest fight” against southpaw Erickson Lubin (18-1, 13 KOs) into his third career first-round stoppage and a Knockout Of The Year candidate.

Charlo finished Lubin in 2:41, with a right uppercut that sent the 22-year-old crashing to the canvas on his left leg. Lubin toppled to his right side, his left arm and leg flailing as referee Harvey Dock halted matters.

“It was a right uppercut,” said Charlo, who has four knockouts in the past five years against southpaws. “[Lubin] ducked right into the shot.”

Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs), a 34-year-old Cuban southpaw, earned his seventh title defense by unanimous decision over 2012 U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha (20-1, 9 KOs). “The American Dream” scored a fourth-round knockdown and remained on pace for the division record of 11 title defenses held by Gianfranco Rosi.

Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs) defended his crown for the first time in a Fight Of The Year caliber affair, overcoming a deep and bleeding cut over his left eye to secure a 10th-round KO of left-handed former titleholder Austin Trout (30-4, 17 KOs). The triumph represented Hurd’s seventh consecutive stoppage victory following a championship-winning ninth-round TKO of Tony Harrison at the Barclays in February.

Hurd—a 27-year-old Accokeek, Maryland native, armed with a 76 ½-inch reach—became the first man to stop Trout, whose eyes were nearly swollen shut as career-long trainer Louie Burke stopped the bout before the 11th.

If it’s Charlo, I’ll beat him. If it’s Hurd, I’ll beat him. I’m willing to fight Hurd or Charlo, and I want them next. WBA 154-pound world champion Erislandy Lara

Charlo’s finish resembled his initial defense in April at Barclays—a sixth-round KO of Charles Hatley also officiated by Dock—when “Iron Man’s” head-swiveling right hand knocked “The Future” face-first and out cold on the canvas beneath a bottom rope.

Charlo dispatched Lubin four years to the day since a 10th-round TKO over Jose Angel Rodrigues, who never fought again after becoming the second of the three left-handers Charlo had stopped. Southpaw Denis Doughlin was dropped and stopped in the fifth round in June 2012. And Charlo trailed 69-64 on all three judges’ scorecards before finishing right-hander John Jackson in the ninth of their vacant title fight in May 2016.

Lara—who once trained and shared corner man Ronnie Shields with Charlo and still shares Shields with Charlo’s twin brother, Jermall—said their friendship wouldn’t get in the way of a fight.

“I’ve trained with Charlo for a lot of years, and he knows the problems I present. Compared to me, Lubin’s a good kid but a built-up prospect and a child,” Lara said in his dressing room after the fight.

“If it’s Charlo, I’ll beat him. If it’s Hurd, I’ll beat him. I’m willing to fight Hurd or Charlo, and I want them next.”

In halting Trout, Hurd knocked out a 32-year-old owner of a unanimous decision over Puerto Rican four-division title winner Miguel Cotto. Trout had also lost title-bout decisions to Canelo Alvarez (April, 2013), Lara (December 2013) and Jermall Charlo (May 2016).

Hurd trailed, 67-66, on two cards after winning the transitional seventh round during which he stalked Trout with his hands at his sided despite blood streaming down his left cheek from a deep laceration over his left eye from a pair of sixth-round head butts.

Hurd wants Lara, but only after a preferred defense against left-handed mandatory Cedric Vitu (46-2, 19 KOs) of France at the MGM National Harbor resort in nearby Oxon Hill, Maryland.

“I wanna defend my title in Maryland, probably not this year because I have to be off for 60 days with the stitches,” said Hurd. “Charlo’s called me out a few times. That’s a megafight and it’s gonna happen. But I just beat a southpaw, my mandatory’s a southpaw, so why not unify against another southpaw, Lara?”

For complete coverage of Lara vs GaushaCharlo vs Lubin, and Hurd vs Trout, visit our fight page.

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