More than just a fighter, Erickson Lubin is a boxing junkie. He watches everything, he sees everything, he knows everything—no matter the weight class.
So of course he was paying close attention to the proceedings on June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. That’s where, before Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter squared off in a Fight of the Year-caliber 147-pound title fight, fellow 154-pound prospect Jarrett Hurd got his chance to announce his presence to the world in a co-main event watched by millions on CBS.
Hurd took full advantage of his opportunity by earning a 10th-round stoppage of then-unbeaten Oscar Molina, and less than a year later earned his first world title shot.
Erickson Lubin (17-0, 12 KOs) gets a similar springboard opportunity Saturday night in a 154-pound world title eliminator against hard-hitting Jorge Cota (25-1, 22 KOs) at Barclays Center. The 12-round contest serves as the co-main to a 147-pound world title unification bout between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia (CBS, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Like Hurd—who on Saturday became a world champion with a ninth-round stoppage of Tony Harrison in a clash for a vacant title—Lubin intends to shine under a national spotlight.
“I don’t just want to win, I want to make a statement and show the world and the 154-pound division why I deserve to be at the top and have one of the titles,” Lubin says. “I plan on making a bigger statement than Jarrett Hurd did. He kind of set the bar in that fight on CBS. I’m here to exceed that, give the fans a better show. I plan on stealing the show that night.”
Stealing the show doesn’t figure to be easy. That’s because Thurman-Garcia is the most anticipated main event of what has already been a year filled with exciting matches. But if there’s a young fighter whose raw talents can make it happen, it’s Lubin.
“ Todd was there and did everything for us, he was a great man, and to lose him so early cut hard on us. ... I dedicate each and every fight to him. ” Erickson Lubin, undefeated 154-pound contender on his late cutman, Todd Harlib
Since signing a professional contract on his 18th birthday in 2013, Lubin has been tabbed as one of the sport’s future stars. His combination of style and prodigious power in both hands have steadily helped his profile grow and has him on the verge of fulfilling those early-career prophecies.
Just last year, the 21-year-old Florida native fought and won four times in 10½ months. It was the least impressive of those performances that he says taught him the most.
After an impressive third-round stoppage of Daniel Sandoval in front of a large NBC audience on June 18, he was brought back into the ring four weeks later on FOX against Ivan Montero. But after letting loose following the Sandoval fight, Lubin went into the Montero bout without the luxury of a full training camp.
Even though he scored an eight-round shutout victory over Montero, Lubin’s lack of preparation was evident.
“That definitely taught me just to be patient,” he says. “I’m still happy I got as many fights as I could last year. But this year, I’m going to take my time, because the fights are going to be harder and on bigger stages.
“That fight with Montero, I just went in there trying to knock him out. With a full camp to prepare, I might have been more relaxed and calm about it.”
The poor taste the Montero contest left in Lubin’s mouth reset his focus for his final bout of 2016. So did a tragic personal loss: In November, veteran boxing cutman Todd Harlib died suddenly, leaving Lubin without a man who had been in his corner since he was 11 years old.
“Todd was there and did everything for us, he was a great man, and to lose him so early cut hard on us,” Lubin says. “I remember him being in the amateurs with us, and he paid for the tournaments I couldn’t afford to go to. There were tournaments I thought I’d miss, and Todd came in and helped me out.
“I thought about it like this: He paid all this money for me to come out here—$1,000 plus—[so] I definitely have to win this tournament.”
Still mourning Harlib’s death, Lubin returned to the ring December 10 in Los Angeles and quickly disposed of Juan Ubaldo Cabrera by second-round knockout. He did so with his fallen friend on both his mind and his gear: In addition to wearing a T-shirt that had Harlib’s image printed on it, Lubin donned scarlet and gray trunks as a tribute to his former cutman, who attended Ohio State University.
“We couldn’t lose focus, we had to do it for [Harlib],” Lubin says of the Cabrera victory. “I dedicate each and every fight to him.”
After dispatching Cabrera, Lubin learned his title eliminator would be the co-main event to Thurman-Garcia. He then quickly began preparations for what is the biggest fight of his life thus far.
If he can get past Cota—a 29-year-old Mexican who has won eight straight fights—Lubin will position himself for a shot at the title currently held by undefeated champion Jermell Charlo.
“Jermell said I need about six more fights to fight him, so I’m about to give him an early surprise,” Lubin says. “It’s not six fights. It’s one more fight, then I get Jermell Charlo.
“I plan on knocking [Cota] out. And if he doesn’t want to go, I’ll punish him for 12 rounds.”
For complete coverage of Lubin vs Cota, head over to our fight page.