Top 154-pound contender Lubin and the former world titleholder Smith are both fighting for their careers when they square off Saturday night on Showtime.
On Saturday, February 9, at Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly StubHub Center) in Carson, California, the two super welterweight standouts can rewrite recent history in a crucial ten-round clash.
Lubin-Smith headlines the free SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING COUNTDOWN show on the Showtime Sports YouTube channel and SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.) prior to the three-fight Showtime card headlined by Gervonta Davis vs. Hugo Ruiz (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
Back in October 2017, when Lubin, 19-1 (14 KOs), was stopped in one by a Jermell Charlo right hand, everything seemed to end abruptly. Less than two weeks after his 22nd birthday, he went from touted prospect to an afterthought overnight.
In the unforgiving world of professional boxing, it sometimes only takes one such humbling to turn a young fighter with the world at his feet into one climbing an uphill battle for the rest of his career.
But the Orlando, Florida, native is the same fighter he was before Charlo, with the same immense talent and potential.
Blessed with tremendous reflexes and one-punch knockout power in both hands, Lubin is a natural right-hander fighting out of a southpaw stance, which makes him an even deadlier offensive presence. With his quick power hand closest to his opponent, always within easy striking range, the former Mike Tyson protégé can not only deliver rapid-fire, right-handed power shots that catch foes off-guard, he can also fire a jab that lets him control space and distance.
Given his physical gifts, Lubin could blow by most opposition on natural talent alone. However, it was always a calm demeanor and self-confidence that set him apart from other prospects.
The question is whether that self-confidence has diminished in the wake of the Charlo knockout. Might facing a seasoned veteran like Smith will bring out any insecurities in the young man looking to reclaim main stage status? Naturally, the 23-year-old Lubin, insists that he is more than up to the task at hand.
“I know Ishe Smith has fought multiple names but he has never fought an Erickson Lubin,” Lubin told Boxingscene.com. “He has fought guys like Danny Jacobs, Julian Williams and Tony Harrison but I am none of those guys. I am my own person. I am Erickson Lubin, The Hammer, and I come with it. I come with different explosiveness and I am ready to show not just the world something but I am also ready to show Ishe Smith what time it is.”
The 40-year-old Smith, 29-10 (12 KOs), is not likely to be intimidated by prodigious raw talent and tough talk, especially now that he’s looking to end a two-fight losing streak.
The 19-year veteran and first-ever Las Vegas-born world champion, who made his pro debut while Lubin was still in pre-school, has been in the ring with a long list of top fighters that includes names such as Jacobs, Erislandy Lara, Randall Bailey, Sergio Mora, Joel Julio, Cornelius Bundrage, Williams, and Harrison. Just as impressive, though, is the top talent that has sought him out over the years as a sparring partner and campmate.
“I came up with Hall of Famers,” Smith told Boxingscene.com. “My first training camp was with Pernell Whitaker when he fought Felix Trinidad. I was Sweet Pea’s chief sparring partner.
"I’ve been mentored by Diego Corrales and Vernon Forrest, so talk is cheap. I’ll be ready to go on fight night like always. But every time someone says this s***, they end up being in the fight of their lives. [Bundrage,] Julian, Harrison all said the same s***."
Currently promoted by friend and mentor Floyd Mayweather of Mayweather Promotions, Smith is a savvy, cautious, economical boxer by nature. He has been more aggressive in recent fights, going from being a slow-starting spoiler to someone focused on scoring early and earning respect.
“Sugar Shay” has also yet to be stopped as a pro and, given his composure and savvy, it would be a considerable feat for anyone to do so.
Lubin, however, will be looking to do just that. He’ll seek to poke at Smith, set up ideal distance, juke him open, and then explode with fight-ending power. This would be the biggest win of his young career and an important statement to the world that he’s over the Charlo fight—and ready to move forward.
Smith, on the other hand, must slow the pace and maintain his own ideal distance. Well-placed shots early on and a handful of counters would go a long way in creating some insecurity in the mind of a young man who may still have doubt lingering after a high-profile KO loss.
No matter what happen on Saturday, one man’s end will be the other’s new beginning. We’ll either see the victorious return of boxing’s top prospect—or the rebirth of one the sport’s most durable old pros.
For a closer look at Lubin vs Smith, check out our fight page.
- Erickson Lubin