A native of Orlando, Florida, Erickson Lubin will enter the ring with a heavy heart Saturday night when he faces Daniel Sandoval in Chicago.
The fight at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT) comes a week after 49 people were killed and another 53 injured in an Orlando nightclub shooting.
The 20-year-old Lubin, who has resided in the Orlando area his entire life, lives about 30 minutes from Pulse Nightclub, the site of the attack. He said he was celebrating the birthday of his girlfriend, Julmarie Garcia, when he learned of the tragedy. Garcia’s mother had a close friend killed in the shooting.
“This hits really close to home for me in a lot of ways, and my heart went out to her mom for losing her friend that way,” Erickson Lubin (14-0, 10 KOs) said. “My heart and my prayers go out to everyone in Orlando. I’m looking at coming up with some way of supporting those affected by the situation, maybe a charity or a fundraiser for the hospitals.”
Lubin’s fight against Mexican heavy hitter Daniel Sandoval (38-3, 35 KOs) will be his first since January 31, when he defeated Jose De Jesus Macias in a lopsided 10-round unanimous decision. While he displayed his usual double-fisted power in keeping his perfect record intact, Lubin’s streak of four consecutive knockouts ended in what was the longest fight of the southpaw’s young career.
Now Lubin faces a 25-year-old opponent who has been stopped just once in his seven-year career and who has registered knockouts in 92 percent of his victories.
If he can get past Sandoval, Lubin will move closer to joining the title conversation in a stacked 154-pound division that features champions Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs), Jermall Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs), and Erislandy Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs), as well as top-ranked challengers Julian Williams (20-0-1, 14 KOs) and Demetrius Andrade (23-0, 16 KOs).
All five of those fighters have posted impressive victories in the last three months, but Lubin says he’d match his skills against any of them.
“Everybody did their job, but I feel like I’m on their level or beyond,” Lubin says. “I just have to go out there Saturday and surpass what they did.
“I know I’m facing a tough Mexican, but I’ll be at my best, dominate the fight and make a statement to continue working my way toward that title shot.”
GLOWACKI, GASSIEV EYE SEPARATE 200-POUND TITLE FIGHTS
Polish champion Krzysztof Glowacki (26-0, 16 KOs) will make the second defense of his 200-pound title in September against 2012 Ukrainian gold medalist Oleksander Usyk (9-0, 9 KOs) in Poland.
“We made a deal, and we’re promoting the fight in Poland,” promoter Leon Margules said. “I don’t know the city or the exact date yet, but it will be in early September—either September 10 or 17—but we don’t have a venue yet.”
The 29-year-old Glowacki won his first title defense in April by twice flooring former champion Steve Cunningham in the second round with left-hand counters, and then using short right hands to drop him in the 10th and 12th rounds en route to earning a unanimous decision.
That victory followed Glowacki’s title-winning, 11th-round stoppage of long-reigning champion Marco Huck in August 2015, rising from a sixth-round knockdown to deny Huck a record 14th consecutive 200-pound title defense.
Speaking of Huck (39-3-1, 27 KOs), the 31-year-old Serbian may be in the running to fight for a vacant title against unbeaten contender Murat Gassiev (23-0, 17 KOs), if the 22-year-old Russian isn’t selected for a clash against countryman Denis Lebedev (29-2, 22 KOs).
Gassiev won his title eliminator May 17 courtesy of a highlight-reel, first-round KO of Jordan Shimmell (20-2, 16 KOs). With that victory, Gassiev became the mandatory challenger to the title previously held by Victor Emilio Ramirez (22-3-1, 17 KOs), an Argentine who was knocked out in the second round by Lebedev last month.
Lebedev is deciding whether to fight Gassiev, or current titleholders Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11 KOs) or Yunier Dorticos (21-0, 20 KOs). If Lebedev passes on facing Gassiev, he must vacate one of his titles, allowing Gassiev to fight Huck for that crown.
“For Lebedev-Gassiev, we have until July 3 to complete negotiations,” Margules said.
ARREOLA DRAWS INSPIRATION FROM CHILDREN AS HE PREPS FOR WILDER
Chris Arreola has long struggled to keep his weight down—so much so that his battle with the bulge has proven as challenging as any opponent in the ring.
So as he gets ready for the biggest fight of his career—a showdown against heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) on July 16 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama (Fox, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT)—Arreola (36-4-1, 31 KOs) is using the two most important people in his life as motivation.
Simply put, he wants to shock Wilder so that his children—1-year-old son Alex and 14-year-old daughter Danae—look at him with pride. And he knows the only chance he has to do it is to get down to business in the gym.
“I thank Deontay for giving me the opportunity, because people are saying that I don’t deserve it,” Arreola said. “I love my young lady and I’m raising a little man, and that’s why I have to come into this fight in the best shape of my life. I want my kids to be proud of their last name."
Arreola rose from a first-round knockdown to win a narrow split decision over Travis Kauffman in his last fight in December, a result that was changed to a no contest after Arreola failed a post-fight drug test. Prior to Kauffman, Arreola looked sloppy at times in fighting Fred Kassi to a 10-round majority draw last July and defeating Curtis Harper by unanimous decision in March 2015.
Arreola, whose disdain for training is perhaps surpassed only by his voracious appetite, has admitted to being “my own worst enemy” when it comes to food. Before defeating Harper, for example, Arreola sabotaged weeks of training in the mountains of Big Bear, California, when he overindulged on pizza to celebrate his 34th birthday a week before the bout.
To his credit, the 35-year-old Southern California native was trimmed down for the Kauffman fight, tipping the scales at 236½ pounds. That’s 10 pounds less than when he fought Kassi and 26 fewer than when he took on Harper.
“I’m a dummy sometimes,” said Arreola, who weighed 251 pounds before ballooning to 262 following his birthday feast ahead of the Harper contest, during which he scored a first-round knockdown but couldn’t stop his opponent. “For those two fights against Harper and Kassi, I’m the idiot who didn’t come to perform.
“I need someone like Travis Kauffman or Deontay Wilder to wake me up and to let me know when I’m in a fight.”
Lem’s Corner is published each Wednesday at PremierBoxingChampions.com.