By: Robert Aaron Contreras
Erickson Lubin’s first world title shot did not take long—aged just 22 when he challenged Jermell Charlo in 2017—but his second will take longer than expected. Originally set to face Terrell Gausha in a WBC eliminator, Lubin (21-1, 16 KO) is still headlining this weekend’s PBC on Showtime bill from Reading, Pennsylvania, but after a hand injury forced Gausha off the card, the Orlando-born popularizer is in line to fight divisional gatekeeper Nathanial Gallimore (21-3-1, 17 KO).
Gallimore, a 31-year-old Jamaican transplant, showed no qualms about answering a late-notice call recently as the second week of October. Gallimore falls short of Gausha’s amateur pedigree but has shown signs of being as equally an athletic jigsaw puzzle, with his pushing six-feet in height and even higher punch output. The title implications become unclear considering Gallimore is nowhere to be seen in the WBC’s top-15 junior middleweight ranking. An honest showing from Lubin at least could still push him back onto the championship stage.
Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime
Lubin’s first taste at the sport’s highest level did not go as planned. But he has been on a roll since suffering his first professional loss, an early knockout to Charlo. A win this weekend would extend his win streak to three straight—all knockouts.
The resurgence has also coincided with a new trainer. Lubin joined Kevin Cunningham in 2018. Cunningham, who is best known for his longtime handling of welterweight Devon Alexander, has made a career out of rebuilding southpaws.
The results speak for themselves. Lubin and his team are 2-0 in 2019. First competing in February where the upstart became the first man to stop veteran Ishe Smith inside the distance. Smith could not keep up his younger opponent. Lubin especially whipped Smith around in the second round, scoring three knockdowns, initially taking Smith’s feet out from under him with cracking one-twos. A fourth knockdown in the fateful third round signaled the end. In the corner, the referee called a halt to action, unwilling to send Smith out for more punishment.
In June, Lubin was back in the ring competing on the undercard of the other Charlo brother. There, the southpaw puncher overwhelmed a former European champion, the standout Frenchman Zakaria Attou. Sitting on his left hands, Lubin touched up his man early. Attou mostly looked to wrap up after feeling the American’s might overhand left. Finally Attou went down in the fourth round. He picked himself up, but the corner recognized his glassy eyes and shaky legs, and thew in the towel.
The destruction left in his wake makes Lubin a heavy favorite (-2000) opposite Gallimore. The 24-year-old quickly broke into the pro ranks with a real reputation. Never fighting in the mold of the typical “slippery southpaw,” or the reticence associated with that stereotype, Lubin’s game couples his supreme athleticism with a menacing clubbing ability, at his best when probing a stiff right jab followed by throwing his weight into an overhand left, to the head and body.
It was none other than Mike Tyson who took notice of Lubin early on. Lubin was a teenager when the legendary heavyweight convinced him to forego the Olympics and sign a promotional deal. Tyson’s company eventually went under. But Lubin carried on. And by 2016, both ESPN and The Ring Magazine named him their annual Prospect of the Year.
With less fanfare, Gallimore left Jamaica as a preteen and found a home in Chicago. He did not turn professional until his late-20s but carved out a respectable career competing between 154 and 160 pounds. In his most recent outing he helped headline a club show in Atlanta. There he decisioned the hometown man, Antonio Todd.
In 2018, a competitive showing against Julian Williams, who would later unify the super welterweight division, left Galllimore with a majority-decision loss. But the performance pushed him into a title eliminator with Patrick Teixeira that very same year. The parvenu was not afraid to pull the trigger, punching away at the house fighter with abandon. Teixeira remained calculated and counterpunched his way to a clear points win. In all bringing Gallimore’s record to 1-2 over his last three bouts.
Robert Easter Jr. (21-1-1, 14 KO) vs. Adrian Granados (20-7-2, 14 KO)
Deprived of the sweet taste of victory, Easter Jr. is looking for his first win in over 20 months. His bout against Granados also represents his first fight since 2016 with no championship belts on the line.
Earlier this year, Easter saw his IBF share fo the lightweight crown ripped from his grasp by Mikey Garcia. Next he was met with a sizable challenge in Rances Barthelemy, a Cuban switch-hitter. There were two titles on the line but somebody forget to let the boxers know because neither seemed excited to be there. The excruciating 12-round staring contest resulted in a split-draw.
Unlike the Cuban stylist, Granados has the banger mentality to drag a fight out of Easter. Back in 2015, the hard-hitting Amir Imam could not keep Granados off of him and succumbed to his attack in the eight rounds–a giant upset.
The shocking victory secured repeated opportunities for Granados against some of boxing’s biggest names.
Over the last three years, the Mexican-born brawler (now fighting out of Illinois) tussled with Adrien Broner, Shawn Porter, and Danny Garcia. That meeting with Garcia represented Granados’ most recent contest, and to be honest his worst beating to date. Granados came out the gates well, outlanding his superstar opponent in the opening frame. But it was all down hill from there, coming undone in the seventh round for the first TKO loss of his career.
Granados at this point is worse for wear, pegged at nearly four-to-one dog odds against a sharp boxer like Easter, the considerable betting favorite who opened at -600.