Unbeaten contender Erickson "Hammer" Lubin insists that after a lifetime of training for a moment like Saturday night, he's ready to take his place as a 154-pound world champion.
Mike Lubin was never induced into one of those sweat-dripping panic modes looking for him. He knew where the little guy was. It’s why Mike always carried a patient demeanor when it came to his younger brother, Erickson.
Mike didn’t mind a pesky tagalong, or the tugs on the shirttail asking when they can go back. Because every time he took Erickson to the gym, the four-year-old would get lost tapping at a heavy bag, which at that time felt like a load of bricks, or swatting the speed bag, which was as big as his head, or simply mimicking everyone and everything around him.
Erickson never treated the gym as a playground, a place where he could be with his older brother. No, the booming punches on the bags, or the rhythmic ratty-tat-tat of the speed bag were the early chimes of a new religion to Erickson. It’s where he learned—mostly by watching. Then by doing. It’s how he developed an intense love for the sport. The little kid that once threw karate kicks at his siblings had found a new passion. And it wasn’t long after that he found out he was pretty good at it, too.
A lifetime of training is why Lubin insists he's not scared in the least of super welterweight champ Jermell Charlo, who he faces Saturday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for Charlo’s belt in the Premier Boxing Champions' 154-pound title tripleheader airing on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs) and Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) is the most anticipated fight of the night. Lubin, a southpaw, has not lost since he was 13, while Charlo, who stands at 5-foot-11, is one-and-a-half inches taller than his younger foe, but will also be giving away an inch-and-a-half in reach (Lubin’s 74½ to Charlo’s 73).
To Lubin, none of the numbers really matter. Not one iota of the 27-year-old Charlo’s experience matters, either. To “The Hammer,” fighting is a part of him, as natural as balling his hands into fists.
Boxing was imprinted on him close to two decades ago.
“My brother Mike got me into boxing when I was four years old, and as soon as I tried it, I was hooked,” Lubin said. “Yeah, you can say boxing is a part of me. I think that’s what people forget. I’m 22, but I’ve been doing this for a long time. Probably longer than people are aware.”
It’s why Lubin is going into the biggest challenge of boxing life supremely confident. He even recalls the last fighter to beat him.
“Oh yeah, Montana Love and there’s a YouTube video of us sparring in the Mike Tyson gym in Florida where he came to tryout [in 2013], I got my revenge that day,” Lubin said, laughing. “Some people may say I’m a little too arrogant. I say it’s confidence. I fought all types of guys coming up. I have a great amateur background. I’ve won pretty much every amateur tournament out there.
“I was only 13 at the time when I fought Love in the amateurs, and the only thing I learned from that was how much I hated losing and I wasn’t going to do it anymore.”
Lubin was considered a “can’t-miss” Olympic prospect that had a chance to win a gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He amassed an astounding 143-7 amateur record, which included Open titles won in the 2013 National Golden Gloves, 2013 PAL Championships and and 2013 Independence Cup, where he scored a major upset win over 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Yasniel Toledo in the tournament semifinals.
“ On October 14 the world will definitely know what my name is, Erickson Lubin. They're going to know who the ‘Hammer’ is. ” Unbeaten 154-pound contender Erickson Lubin
Then Mike Tyson got involved. He signed Lubin, aggravating USA Boxing. What ensued was a public war between the U.S. Olympic Boxing program, USA Boxing and Tyson. USA Boxing accused Tyson of “poaching” fighters against its best interests. Lubin countered with, “When they started taking off the headgear [in amateur bouts], I felt I might as well turn pro and make some money for it.”
In 2014, Iron Mike Productions disbanded and made Lubin a free agent.
The rangy southpaw has received some lessons as a pro. The last time he went the distance came against Ivan Montero in an eight-rounder in July 2016.
“That fight told me I won't look good against fighters who are just trying to survive,” Lubin said. “So many of my opponents came to survive and get paid. It was frustrating after a while. I prefer better fighters who will fight with me. But the better fighters wouldn’t take the fight with me. So, I was stuck with these types fights until the WBC stepped up and mandated the elimination fight and this mandatory.
“As far as it going the distance, that didn’t mean anything because [Montero] wasn’t fighting, so I don’t see that as an indication of whether I can go into deep waters if that's what you're asking. I’ve always had good stamina when I’m in shape. I just take it one round at a time anyway. I get in a zone and I don't even know what round it is. I just focus on winning every round. No worries at all about this fight going the distance. If I got to do 20 strong rounds to get that belt, I will. It's mind over matter.”
Now he has Charlo, who was last extended the distance by Vanes Martirosyan in a 10-rounder in March 2015. Lubin also knows that, while a very live underdog, he’s still not favored to win.
“I like that, I do,” Lubin said. “I'm jacked for the first time since my last gold medal in the amateurs. It’s exciting to have a challenge. And the fact most everyone thinks it's too soon doesn't make me feel like an underdog. It just means they haven't got to see me in a fight with a fighter of his level before, so logically you're going to go with him. I get to finally show everyone how good I am. That's exciting for me.
“Speed, agility, and athleticism. I'm the most athletic and most talented fighter he's fought to date. Look at everyone who he's fought and their amateur backgrounds and their first 18 fights. Whatever people say is one thing, grab that calculator, my first 18 fights the opponents record was 300 wins, 69 losses. Charlos first 18 was 94-41.
“It’s why I say Charlo is a paper champion. I don’t feel like Charlo has ever fought anyone like me. And October 14 the world will definitely know what my name is, Erickson Lubin. They're going to know who the ‘Hammer’ is.”
For a complete look at Charlo vs Lubin, visit our fight page.