Lubin vs. Rosario: A Throwback Boxing Needs More Of

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Two of the world's best 154-pounders will duel for a shot at a world title when Erickson Lubin and Jeison Rosario square off Saturday night on SHOWTIME PPV.

Scarcity changes the marketplace. 

On July 17th, Jermell Charlo (34-1, 18 KO) will risk his WBC, WBA, IBF, and lineal super welterweight titles against WBO champion Brian Castano (17-0-1, 12 KO). The victor will be just the sixth male boxer since the inception of the WBO in the late 1980s to hold four major titles at once. 

It’s one of the most anticipated fights of the year for fans. 

For fighters at 154-pounds, it means becoming a champion gets harder. Unification in boxing increases the scarcity of titles and escalates the need for risk to earn a title shot. 

This Saturday, June 26, unbeaten two-division champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis moves up two divisions to challenge WBA World Super Lightweight Champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios, live on SHOWTIME pay-per-view (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). In the co-feature, former title challenger Erickson Lubin (23-1, 16 KO) and former unified titlist Jeison Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs) will lock horns for a mandatory WBC world super welterweight title shot but it could be any sanctioning body’s eliminator. 

After July, all roads lead in one direction. 

It makes Rosario-Lubin a throwback fight in a way many might not think of.

Rosario-Lubin is a non-title clash between consensus top ten contenders still in the prime of their careers. Both men can be found not only in the WBC top ten but also the top tens of major media outlets with rankings. 

How often does boxing really deliver those kinds of fights anymore?

It used to be standard fare, on the way to a title or in pursuit of regaining one. Sugar Ray Leonard went through more top ten contenders before he defeated Wilfred Benitez for his first title than most champions have defended against in the years since Leonard’s two welterweight reigns. Between his loss to Joe Frazier and title win over George Foreman, Muhammad Ali beat more of the rest of the heavyweight top ten than either rival. 

It happened below the megastar level as well. It had to. There were, at most, two belts to go around. Scarcity meant title shots were more difficult to get and staying proven after a loss demanded more than just being busy.  

Times have changed and the current landscape in boxing can work against risk without a belt on the line. 

Boxing fans are living through one of the deepest and most competitive eras in some sixty years of 154-pound history. A volume of quality action in recent years includes a widely acclaimed Fight of the Year between Jarrett Hurd and Erislandy Lara. 

Consider that there have been seven fights between just the most current top ten of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, where Rosario is rated third and Lubin seventh. All seven fights had at least one sanctioning body title on the line. The last half decade featured several more top ten clashes between men rated at the time like Jermall Charlo and Hurd versus Julian Williams, or Austin Trout versus both Charlo brothers.

Those all had titles on the line too.

I don’t want any tune-up fights, that’s why I took this fight against Rosario. Super Welterweight Contender - Erickson Lubin

Lubin-Rosario is both an anomaly and also arguably the best non-title fight of this outstanding 154-pound era.     

Lubin and Rosario might be fighting this weekend even if their division wasn’t on the verge of complete unification. They just wouldn’t necessarily have to if there were more titles available right now. This is the path of more resistance, something boxing fans can always applaud. 

On its own the fight pits men whose styles should make for high drama. Lubin is an educated boxer-puncher and Rosario a physical brawler. Both men have been stopped and hurt along their way. The fight is rendered more dramatic when one considers Rosario and Lubin aren’t just running toward a fire with each other. 

They’re potentially running toward a flame they’ve both been scorched by. 

Rosario, 26, shocked the boxing world in early 2020 with a knockout of unified super welterweight champion Julian Williams and agreed to face Charlo for further unification in his next fight. While Rosario competed well, he was dropped multiple times and stopped with a nasty body shot in the eighth round. Lubin, 25, lasted seven fewer frames against Charlo in 2017, stopped in the first round for what remains his lone defeat and lone title opportunity.

Now Rosario and Lubin will fight each other knowing the destination could be a return to their most devastating day as a professional. They want to be champions. 

Facing one another is the fastest way to get there.     

At a press conference last week, Rosario recognized that his clash with Lubin bucks trends. “What happened in the Charlo fight was the fluke. Me winning the titles was not the fluke. I’m going to show everybody that I will bounce back from that loss and win my next fight. I have no problem taking this fight. It’s not a mistake at all. This is what we do. We fight.”

Lubin isn’t shying away from earning a second title shot while attempting to win his sixth straight since the Charlo loss. “I don’t want any tune-up fights, that’s why I took this fight against Rosario. I gained a lot of confidence and everything is clicking for me right now. When I become world champion, I want to be able to say that I’ve beat all the top guys in the division. That’s just how I am. I’m a competitor.”

Boxing is healthy when the best fight the best. Charlo-Castano gives us that in weeks. It’s even healthier when more of the best men behind them fight their way to the front of the line to be next. 

It’s the way it used to be.

It’s the way it will be when Erickson Lubin and Jeison Rosario step into the ring together on Saturday night.

For a closer look at Lubin vs Rosario, check out our fight night page. 

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