By: Hans Themistode
There’s a certain art that’s associated with the sport of boxing. Of course, there’s the obvious, the barbaric actions of two fighters entering the ring shirtless, beating one another until someone shamefully says “no mas.” But boxing is more than just blood, guts, and agony.
There were a few fighters who taught us that. Take a trip back in time and watch as guys such as Pernell Whitaker, Sam Langford, Winky Wright, Gene Tunney, Wilfred Benitez, and Willie Pep – made fighters miss over and over again. Though they often picked up the win, on most occasions, they never quite appealed to fans. Even so, that never truly mattered. They retired with an unprecedented amount of wins, only a handful of losses, and a well-established bank account.
Whenever a microphone is thrown into the face of Floyd Mayweather, arguably the greatest defensive fighter of all-time, he often begins by speaking about his great investments, how effortlessly he milked the sport, and most likely, whether he’s asked about it or not, he’ll explain how easily he defeated Canelo Alvarez. Other than those sticking points, Mayweather was proud of his pristine record through 50 fights and the money he made as a result.
Seldom was the newly inducted Hall of Famer in a back and forth war for 12 rounds. That’s not to say that he didn’t have his fair share of difficult nights at the pugilistic office. Miguel Cotto, Marcos Maidana, and Jose Luis Castillo pushed Mayweather. But, despite those back and forth bouts, Mayweather provided an illusion of the sport.
Mayweather, and Andre Ward for that matter, made it look incredibly easy. Countless punches whizzed by their unprotected chins, just inches away from hitting them right on the button. Both men, and numerous others, knew when to move, when to react, and how to avoid the big punches.
But while fighters such as Mayweather, Pep, and Ward perfected the art of hit while not getting hit, this past weekend, however, was a quick reminder of the brutality of the sport.
Erickson Lubin was determined to re-establish himself as not only a top name at 154 pounds but THE top name in the weight class. Following his stunning first-round knockout loss at the hands of Jermell Charlo in 2017, Lubin pulled himself up by the bootstraps and placed himself back into the title picture.
With six consecutive wins in a row, Lubin was just one victory away from standing in the front of the line as the division’s most worthy title challenger. That said, as Lubin walked through those doors to be viewed as the best of the best, his vision was impaired by the 6’6” Sebastian Fundora.
Despite the tall task, both literally and figuratively, oddsmakers pegged Lubin as a slight favorite. The 26-year-old would prove them right early on as he outboxed the freakishly tall Fundora in the opening round of their Las Vegas showdown this past weekend. But while Lubin continued to have his moments, Fundora snuffed out any chance he had at winning.
Round after round, Lubin attempted to use his defensive abilities to ward off a fighter with a six-inch reach and ridiculous eight-inch height advantage. At times, Lubin popped his jab, deflected his man’s oncoming assault, and moved side to side, making it nearly impossible for Fundora to land flush.
But as the rounds, minutes, and seconds began ticking by, Fundora began finding the mark. In the second, the enormous contender landed a flush uppercut on Lubin, sending him to the deck. From there, Lubin began planting his feet and exchanging, something that appeared to be working in the seventh. During the period, Lubin knocked Fundora’s mouthpiece halfway across the ring and battered him until he was forced to take a knee.
While Lubin screamed and shouted in the direction of the crowd, he appeared despondent as Fundora rose back to his feet. For the remainder of their contest, Fundora pounded Lubin. And, as he returned to his corner following the completion of each hard-fought round, the swelling around his eyes worsened, the lumps on his nose were more noticeable, and his entire face grew more and more disfigured.
As first reported by BoxingScene.com, after succumbing to Fundora’s power in the ninth, it was revealed that Lubin suffered a broken nose and separated shoulder. Surprisingly, he didn’t endure any other broken bones outside of his nose.
In totality, Lubin showed grit, determination, and a refusal to fold when the going got tough. While he’s received support and an enormous amount of respect from the boxing world for his efforts, Tony Harrison, a former junior middleweight belt holder who also tips his cap to Lubin, believes that even at the age of 26, it could be time for him to hang ’em up.
“Man, listen to me – after this fight, if I’m Lubin, I’m thinking about retiring,” Harrison told BoxingScene.com. “You know what I mean? That’s a tough fight. That’s a tough out. You don’t even recognize him, for real. You know what I’m saying? He gonna be sore in the morning, and ain’t nobody gonna sit with that man but his team. This sport don’t give a f*ck about you. Lubin showed so much grit to me, man, he showed so much dog. And I really haven’t been seeing that from him. To push forward the way he was pushing forward after being knocked down, I salute that man. I salute him. It just lets you know boxing is the toughest sport in the world.”
Lubin was everything Harrison stated and more. His audacious attitude, when faced with an unbridled amount of adversity, has given him all of the respect in the world from his peers. But, it’s also a reminder of the brutality of boxing.
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