Prodigies have a magnetic way of causing heads to turn and eyes to sway in their direction. It seems Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin has been dealing with that kind of attention ever since he slipped on a pair of boxing gloves. He has always been velvet-smooth in the ring. There has always appeared to be a natural confidence each time he has fought, throughout the amateurs and now as a budding pro.
He has been viewed as one of the best prospects to emerge out of the United States amateur program in the last 20 years. He was considered so hot that Mike Tyson had to pluck him fast, when Tyson began a promotional company called “Iron Mike Productions.” That sank quickly -- Lubin has not.
Lubin (13-0, 10 KOs) on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET via Premier Boxing Champions on the Bounce Network will take on Jose Macias (18-4-2, 9 KOs) -- who is trained by Rigoberto Alvarez, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s brother -- in a 10-round super welterweight fight as part of a Premier Boxing Champions broadcast from the Seminole Casino in Immokalee, Florida.
This will be Lubin’s coming-out party, in a sense. The 20-year-old, 5-foot-11 southpaw was supposed to be a “can’t-miss” Olympic prospect that had a chance to win a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro this summer. 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.
Then 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.”
Now the rest of the country will get a chance to see him.
“Erickson had a lot of opportunities to go in a lot of different directions,” said Henry Rivalta, Lubin’s co-manager who, along with Garry Jonas, manages 26 pros with Probox Management in Miami. “Erickson was being urged to stay an amateur, but Garry and I wanted to make sure Erickson was covered in any direction he went. It really, really was a tough decision for Erickson to leave the amateurs, because he wanted to win a gold medal. I even spoke to him about staying an amateur. We would have helped him any way we could. He turned pro, along with his stablemate, Dennis Galarza, his best friend, and Garry and I wanted to give them both of them an opportunity to succeed.”
Lubin, who is trained by Jason Galarza, Dennis’ father, is excited about the step he is about to take.
“The time when the Tyson thing fell apart wasn’t a scary time; we just made a different and better move,” Lubin said. “When the rules began to change about fighting without headgear, I wanted to get paid for it. I didn’t want to enter the pros with the wear and tear of amateur fights. This fight Sunday night is a big move for me. I plan on headlining bigger cards and bigger events. I want to fight six times this year, maybe every other month. I want to become a contender or a champion by the end of the year.”
The timer has started.
Lubin said he does not know much about Macias, other than he is a veteran fighter who can take a punch.
“I want to stick to my game plan and pick him apart,” said Lubin, who is a sinewy 154 pounds, though will probably get larger as he approaches his mid-20s. “If he makes a mistake, I’ll take him out. I saw a little bit of one of his fights, but that was about it. I don’t study too much tape of my opponents. All I have to see is about a round, and that’s all I need to see to figure him out. I watch things like how quick he looks like and go from there. I feel good right now at 154. I don’t have to starve myself to make the weight. I’ll be 154 by the end of the year. I’ve been at 154 for a good year now.”
Also on the card is an eight-round fight between aforementioned featherweight prospect Galarza (11-1, 8 KOs) in the opening bout against Bence Molnar (15-6, 8KOs). The co-feature will be an eight-round welterweight fight between Alex De Jesus (21-1, 13 KOs) and Joseph Elegele (14-2, 10 KOs).
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.
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