Top prospect Erickson Lubin showing star power heading into first bout as headliner

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Erickson Lubin was a high school senior when he signed a professional boxing contract on his 18th birthday. The Orlando, Florida, native debuted the next month with a 35-second knockout … followed six weeks later by a 61-second stoppage … followed 34 days later by yet another first-round KO.

Erickson Lubin

Erickson Lubin drops his "Jackhammer" on Alexis Camacho on November 28 in Dallas. The right hook sent Camacho to the canvas, earning Lubin a second-round KO. (Suzanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions)

“I was still living with my parents when I decided to turn pro and leave for Miami, which is pretty unusual,” says Lubin, who turned 18 on October 1, 2013, then ripped off successive knockouts of Eric De Jesus (November 2013), Luis Santiago (January 2014) and Robert Acevedo (February 2014).

“During high school homecoming, the holidays and New Year’s Eve, I was in the gym training for fights. But I had no problem with that. It’s the kind of sacrifice you have to make if you want to accomplish your dream of being a world champion and being the best.”

There was one entity, however, that was none too pleased with Lubin’s decision to sign with handler Henry Rivalta and Mike Tyson's now-defunct promotional company Iron Mike Productions: USA Boxing.

As an amateur, Lubin was considered America’s best medal hopeful for the 2016 Olympics. That was significant because USA Boxing, which was shut out at the 2012 London Games, hasn’t had a medalist of any kind since Deontay Wilder earned bronze in 2008. Moreover, the nation hasn’t had a gold medalist since Andre Ward in 2004.

“Team USA wanted to keep Erickson, and every promoter from Top Rank to Golden Boy wanted him. We offered financial security,” says Rivalta, who co-manages Lubin with Garry Jonas. “We taught Erickson to manage his money and promised him that by the time of the [2016] Olympics, he would be 14-0 or 15-0 and a contender.”

Erickson Lubin certainly is on track to fulfill his manager’s prediction: With the Olympics less than than seven months away, the 154-pound prospect stands at 13-0 with 10 KOs. He’ll look to keep that perfect record intact when he takes on Jose De Jesus Macias (18-4-2, 9 KOs) on Sunday night (Bounce TV, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) at Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee in Immokalee, Florida.

The scheduled 10-rounder will be Lubin’s first as a headliner, and it follows a busy 2015 during which the southpaw went 5-0, including four consecutive stoppages to cap the year: Kenneth Council (first-round KO, March 6), Ayi Bruce (first-round KO, June 26), Orlando Lora (sixth-round TKO, September 18) and Alexis Camacho (second-round KO, November 28).

Given Lubin’s performances over the past two years, it’s easy to understand why USA Boxing officials were miffed that he decided to turn pro. It’s also easy to understand why Lubin made the choice that he did.

It’s motivation to hear people say I’m ‘the next this person’ or ‘the next that person,’ when realistically, I’m the next Erickson Lubin. Unbeaten 154-pound prospect Erickson Lubin

Now at the rip old age of 20, the heavy-handed Lubin not only is on the fast track to contender status, but "The Hammer” appears destined for a title shot before long. In a sense, Lubin's career is progressing along a path similar to that of a devastating puncher of yesteryear.

“Erickson will be a world champion by the time he’s 21 years old,” says adviser Luis DeCubas. “Andre Ward’s a great boxer, but not too many younger guys can chase and beat down grown men like Erickson does.

“This kid not only has the skills, but also the tenaciousness and a nastiness about him that reminds me of Mike Tyson.”

Lubin embraces such a comparison.

“It’s motivation to hear people say I’m ‘the next this person’ or ‘the next that person,’ when realistically, I’m the next Erickson Lubin,” he says. “I want to go out there and make a name for myself, and maybe be better than anyone. I want to go down as one of a kind.”

Ironically, Lubin’s confidence is tempered in part because of an ongoing personal relationship with Tyson.

“I definitely idolize and learn a lot from Mike Tyson. He’s a mentor,” Lubin says of the man who at the age of 20 in 1986 became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. “He’s been to my fights, comes over to give me hugs, genuinely saying I should learn from his mistakes, telling me what to do and not to do, what to say and not to say.”

While it’s true that Lubin has yet to be matched against a contender with his skill set or future promise, it’s also true that every opponent he’s faced as a pro has entered the ring with a winning record. That will continue with Macias, who is coming off a narrow split-decision loss to veteran Alejandro Barrera in October, but had been on a 13-0-1 run before that.

“Facing better fighters has given me confidence,” says Lubin, who calls his right hand the “Jackhammer” and his left the “Sledgehammer.” “I'll be in a championship fight one day, and when that happens, I’ll be more than ready.”

For complete coverage of Lubin vs De Jesus Macias, head over to our fight page.

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