A 154-pound showdown between two of boxing's most-talented—and outspoken—young fighters could steal the show during Saturday night's title tripleheader on Showtime.
Under normal circumstances, the showdown between WBC 154-pound world champion Jermell Charlo and highly-regarded top contender Erickson Lubin would be rated this month’s must-see fight. But Charlo-Lubin isn’t happening under normal circumstances—and that’s great for boxing enthusiasts.
Charlo versus Lubin would highlight just about any fight card. Each unbeaten, extremely confident, highly-skilled, hard-hitting fighter is eager to get his hands on an opponent capable of altering the path of his already positive career. With so much at stake, this matchup has potential fight-of-the-year written all over it.
However, Charlo-Lubin won’t command center stage alone. There are two additional 154-pound title bouts scheduled on Saturday night’s card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, which airs on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. And those bouts could steal much of the attention from Charlo versus Lubin.
Erislandy Lara (24-2-2, 14 KOs), the longest reigning 154-pound champion, will put his belt on the line against fast-rising contender Terrell Gausha (20-0-0, 9 KOs) in the card’s main event. Jarrett Hurd (20-0-0, 14 KOs) makes the first title defense of his IBF belt against former champion Austin Trout (30-3-0, 17 KOs).
Any of these three championship bouts could steal the show. But Lubin (18-0 13 KOs) has made his fight with Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) a bit more personal than the others. While many knowledgeable boxing insiders regard Charlo as the current top super welterweight, Lubin doesn’t share that opinion.
Lubin has even questioned the status of Charlo as a legitimate champion, taking shots at the quality of the champ’s opposition, including Charles Hatley, whom Charlo KO’d in the sixth round to retain his crown at Barclays Center on April 22.
“I just feel like, to say you're titled and it's [against] a guy like Hatley. ... I don't feel like Hatley is that good of a fighter,” Lubin said. “I don't feel like Charlo has ever fought anyone like me.
“[On] Oct. 14 the world will definitely know what my name is, Erickson Lubin. They're going to know who ‘The Hammer’ is.”
Charlo doesn’t think there is any correlation between Hatley and any of his other opponents or has any bearing on his match against Lubin.
“Hatley was a fighter who had one loss. I wouldn’t say that he was a lesser opponent than any other fighter that I’ve fought,” Charlo said. “Considering the talk of lesser opponents, I don’t know any of the opponents Lubin has fought. And I don’t think any of the opponents Lubin has fought [are] on Hatley’s level.”
Charlo has shown no outward sign that Lubin’s comments have impacted him mentally. If anything, each fighter has one thing in common: a desire to KO the other.
“ Considering the talk of lesser opponents, I don’t know any of the opponents Lubin has fought. And I don’t think any of the opponents Lubin has fought [are] on Hatley’s level. ” 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo, on Erickson Lubin's quality of opponents
Charlo believes he has everything he needs to stop Lubin in his tracks.
“I’ve fought three southpaws, I’ve knocked them all out,” said Charlo. “I want to continue it, not necessarily in the mindset of knocking him out, but definitely winning this fight.”
Charlo sparred 50-plus rounds with left-handed 147-pound champion Errol Spence to prepare for Hatley, who was knocked out cold on the canvas beneath a bottom rope as referee Harvey Dock waved an end to the bout.
"I'm way better than Charles Hatley, and I have a different style from Spence," said Lubin. "My southpaw style gives everybody problems. I'm more versatile, mix it up, and at my best, nobody in the division can beat me."
Having trained primarily with Spence at R&R Boxing in Dallas, Texas for the second straight camp, Charlo vows to be even more impressive against Lubin, who is coming off a fourth-round TKO of Jorge Cota in March.
“Erickson Lubin’s a crafty young fighter. He’s strong. He’s got some skills. He’s got pop with a lot of energy. I’ve got the height, the size, I’m stronger, I’m faster,” said Charlo, who is an inch and a half taller than Lubin at 5-foot-11.
“Errol Spence Jr. is the perfect sparring partner, one of the best sparring partners that I’ve had even when I’m fighting right-handers because of his dominance. Guided by Errol and (mutual trainer) Derrick James, who are showing me different things in the gym, I’m growing smarter and most definitely a better fighter every time I step into the ring.”
It all makes for an exciting chess match between two highly motivated and supremely skilled boxers.
As a result, this fight gets the early nod for fight-of-the-night honors. However, there is too much talent on this card to guarantee that fans will exit the arena talking only about the Charlo-Lubin showdown.
For a complete look at Charlo vs Lubin, visit our fight page.