Under The Radar Fights Fans Should Be Hoping For This Year
By: Hans Themistode
The big fights are easy to identify. Even the most casual fans will tune into matchups headlined by Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr. or Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua. While those fights are undoubtedly huge, discussing them has become incredibly repetitive.
The sport of boxing doesn’t revolve around those obvious big fights, and more times than not, those marquee matchups either take years to materialize or fail to happen at all. The anticipation would go through the roof if Canelo Alvarez agreed to take on Jermall Charlo or if Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford came to a bout agreement. But there are a ton of other possible matches that are floating under the radar. One’s that would make fight fans and even casuals run to their television screens. Let’s take a look a look at some of them now.
Luis Ortiz vs Andy Ruiz Jr
When it comes to the heavyweight division, much of the attention is on unified champion Anthony Joshua as well as WBC/Ring magazine belt holder Tyson Fury. There is little doubt that their showdown would entertain. However, a contest between former champion Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-2, 22 KOs) and multiple time title challenger Luis Ortiz would possibly produce even more fireworks.
Both big men know how to box but more importantly, they know how to bang and enjoy doing it. Outside of his defeats to Deontay Wilder, Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) has never come close to losing a fight. The now 41-year-old is fresh off a first-round knockout win against Alexander Flores in early November. Ruiz Jr., on the other hand, is still searching to get back on track following his one-sided loss against Anthony Joshua in late 2019. Both men hit hard, have sturdy chins and need a big fight.
This one has fight of the year candidate written all over it.
Jermall Charlo vs Chris Eubank Jr
WBC middleweight belt holder Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) has been described in a variety of ways. Brash, brazen, loquacious and even arrogant. In many respects, so has WBA interim titlist Chris Eubank Jr.
Charlo, 30, has done his best to quiet his doubters with his most recent performance, an easier than expected win against perennial contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko. Eubank Jr. though, is in a similar position. Sure his world title win was a bit fortuitous considering his opponent in Mat Korobov dislocated his shoulder in the second round of their matchup, Eubank Jr. (29-2, 22 KOs) proved in his prior fight that he can not only compete with the elite but beat them convincingly. That much was proven after sending former champion James DeGale into retirement.
In terms of Charlo and Eubank Jr., both men have expressed plenty of interest in facing each other. With nothing set in stone for either man at the moment, both should look to make this showdown happen next.
Erickson Lubin vs Jarrett Hurd
Has there ever been a boring fight involving Jarrett Hurd? Of course not. The former unified Jr middleweight champion was once viewed as the class of the division. Those thoughts however, have mostly dissipated following his surprising defeat to Julian Williams in mid-2019.
Still, with only one loss plastered to his record, the Maryland native is far from done. A possible matchup with Erickson Lubin would prove just that, provided he wins.
Lubin, much like Hurd (24-1, 16 KOs), saw his stock take a considerable hit the moment his head bounced off the canvas courtesy of a Jermell Charlo left hand in 2017. He’s rebuilt himself nicely since then reeling off five straight wins. If he wanted, Lubin could sit back and await his second crack at a world title but the 25-year-old loves a good fight. Ironically enough, Hurd loves himself a good scrap as well. It’s a matchup made in boxing Heaven.
Terence Crawford vs Keith Thurman
No not Manny Pacquiao and no not Errol Spence Jr. Terence Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) should pick a fight with former unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman. By all accounts, Spence Jr. is the top name in the division and the one Crawford should continue to lure into the ring. With that being said, Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) was Spence Jr. long before he broke into the championship mix.
The biggest wins on the Dallas native’s resume came at the expense of Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. While they were impressive victories, Thurman took care of business against both men in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Injuries, of course, have held back the 32-year-old Thurman. And despite his loss to Pacquiao in his last ring appearance, he proved that there’s still plenty left in the tank.
Fans have grown tired of begging and groveling for a matchup between Crawford and Spence Jr. Instead, they should switch their focus and hope that Crawford faces Thurman. The former champion may have lost countless fans due to his inactivity in the ring but he’s still one of the best fighters in the world.
Erickson Lubin Eyeing Matchups With Jarrett Hurd And Julian Williams If No Charlo Rematch Says Head Trainer
By: Hans Themistode
The risk often outweighs the reward. That’s frequently the case when a fighter finds himself in a mandatory position.
Too many times have we seen fighters scratch and claw their way to the number one ranking in a specific sanctioning body, only to lose everything in the blink of an eye due to one bad night at the office.
The options are usually reduced to two at that point. Either said fighter sits back and waits a protracted amount of time for his shot, or he takes on an heralded opponent with little to no chance of an upset happening.
Jr middleweight contender Erickson Lubin isn’t a fan of either option. And while he’s already ranked number one in the WBC for Jermell Charlo’s title, that doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to risk it all.
“We are hoping for the mandatory shot at Charlo next,” said Lubin’s head trainer Kevin Cunningham to BoxingScene.com. “If Charlo isn’t next, I’m sure the fans wouldn’t mind seeing Erickson Lubin versus Jarret Hurd or Erickson Lubin versus Julian Williams. Most fighters that get in mandatory position sit until they get the title shot. Hammer wants to stay busy. He is willing to face the other top guys until he gets a shot.”
Lubin, 25, has a second chance at a first impression. After winning ESPN’s prospect of the year in 2016, the Florida native was fast tracked to a world title shot against the aforementioned Charlo one year later.
The hype train surrounding him was quickly derailed as a Charlo right hand left him down and out in the first round. He’s since bounced back in a huge way, winning five straight and finding himself in the mandatory position once again.
If Lubin gets his wish, he’ll be facing Charlo in his next fight with revenge on his mind. But he’ll find his man a bit heavier this time around thanks to several additional world titles due to his eighth round stoppage win over Jeison Rosario.
As much as Cunningham would love for his man to begin his own title reign, he knows that Charlo has a bevy of options in front of him.
“Hammer’s sitting in a good position and we’re waiting to see how things play out. Big props to Jermell Charlo for his KO win over Rosario. I agree with Max Kellerman, Charlo is the undisputed junior middleweight champion. Hammer’s Charlo’s WBC mandatory but Charlo has mandatories with the WBA and IBF also. There’s also talk of a Charlo-Teixeira unification for the WBO.”
Erickson Lubin: “Jermell To Me Is A True Champion But I Don’t Feel Like He’s Better Than Me”
By: Hans Themistode
The world titles in the Jr. middleweight division have found themselves on a never ending merry-go-round.
The first stop for the IBF and WBA titles was at the feet of Jarrett Hurd. The Maryland native would see his title reign last roughly a year and a half until his championship belts decided it was time to make another trip, this time to Philadelphia.
Julian Williams found himself next up on the merry-go-round, winning the titles from Hurd in May of last year. Yet by the time the Philadelphia native reached out to put the world titles on his mantle, Jeison Rosario snatched them away from him, stopping the now former champion in the fifth round of his first title defense.
The most recent stop on the merry-go-round was in Detroit where Tony Harrison gladly took his turn. Much like Williams though, Harrison saw his title reign truncated the moment he attempted to defend his controversially won belt against Jermell Charlo.
Even with the numerous short title runs, the record books will always say that fighters such as Harrison and Williams were once world champions, but for contender Erickson Lubin, their title runs shouldn’t even count.
“A lot of what’s been going on is these champions will win the belt one time and then they fight again and lose it. To me their not considered a true champion,” said Lubin on the Premier Boxing Champions podcast. “Like yeah they won the belt and that’s cool and all but when I win the belt I’m looking to keep the belt until I retired. A true champion in my book is someone who gets the belts and defends them. They defend the belts, keep winning the belts and go up in weight classes and win more belts.”
Lubin (22-1, 14 KOs) has his own chance to place himself in front of the championship line. This weekend, the former amateur standout will take on former Olympian Terrell Gausha in a WBC eliminator contest. Should he win, Lubin will find himself fighting for another world title.
Three years ago, Lubin was on the brink of etching his name as a world champion. Yet, he ran smack into the right hand of Charlo on the night which ended his dreams in the first round. Fast forward to today however, and the highly rated contender believes that he’s better than ever.
“I been grinding ever since I took my loss and I been improving ever since I took my loss. I was dangerous before I loss but now that I took that loss I got with Kevin Cunningham and we improving in everything.”
The trash talk leading up to Charlo and Lubin’s matchup was entertaining to say the least. At every turn both fighters would jaw off at one another to no end.
In short, there was no love lost. The two may not see eye to eye, but Lubin respects his skillset. With that being said, even with a knockout loss, he still doesn’t believe he plays second fiddle to anyone. Including Charlo.
“Jermell to me is a true champion. He was able to get that belt and defend it. Even though he loss to Tony Harrison he went back and made a statement. He proved that the first fight was controversial, so to me he’s a true champion. But I don’t feel like he’s better than me. He did beat me so he’s considered better then me to the fans and everyone else but I can’t wait. When the time comes we’ll definitely be ready.”
Not only does Lubin need to get past Gausha this weekend, but Charlo has some work to do as well. The current WBC belt holder will meet with unified champion Jeison Rosario in a FOX Pay-Per-View headliner on September 26th.
Lubin doesn’t expect it to be easy, but for the first time in his career, he’s on team Charlo.
“It’s a toss up but I’m thinking that Charlo is going to beat him,” explained Lubin. “Charlo is more of the seasoned veteran and he’s more athletic in my opinion. If he sits in there and trades shots with Rosario then that’s a bad idea in my opinion. But he moves his feet way more and he has some punching power. With Rosario I feel like he’s never been on this stage before.”
Ranking Premier Boxing Champions Top 5 Fights to Watch From Their Recent Schedule Release on SHOWTIME
By: Hans Themistode
Grotesque mismatches were becoming the norm in this new COVID-19 boxing landscape. Financial issues and the lack of a live audience gave promoters the right to place uninteresting matchups on television screens across the world.
While it was appreciated, fans were grinding their teeth as they saw predictable fight after predictable fight. Compelling and interesting matchups would have to wait until the back end of 2020 or worse, sometime in 2021.
For Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) however, they would hear none of it.
Earlier this week PBC announced their SHOWTIME schedule for the remainder of 2020, and it did not disappoint. Numerous championship matchups have now flooded boxing fans’ once desolate schedule. With so many interesting contests, we’ve decided to rank the best five from the group.
Every contest on the docket is worth watching, but here’s our choice for the best of the best of PBC’s SHOWTIME Boxing schedule.
5. Erickson Lubin vs Terrell Gausha
Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs) has been waiting to prove that he isn’t a hype job. The former ESPN prospect of the year looked to be the real deal during the early portion of his career. However, a right hand from Jermell Charlo in Lubin’s first crack at a world title in 2017, put an end to that notion. Since then, Lubin has been hard at work reshaping his image. The Florida native has picked up four straight wins with three coming via stoppage, and now finds himself in a WBC title eliminator against Terrell Gausha.
Much like Lubin, the former Olympian has done some reshaping of his own, although not as successful. After losing a one sided contest in his own bid to win a world title contest against Erislandy Lara in 2017, Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) has been both inactive, fighting only once a year, and lackluster, scoring a draw against Austin Trout in his last ring appearance.
Not only are these two fairly evenly matched, but with the next title shot up for grabs, there is plenty on the line.
4. Nonito Donaire vs Nordine Oubaali
The retirement train was thought to have long left the station with Nonito Donaire onboard. Yet, it appears that the 37 year old isn’t ready to pack up and leave just yet. After suffering losses to Jessie Magdaleno and Carl Frampton, Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) received a bit of luck in reaching the finals of the World Boxing Super Series in 2019.
Meeting him there, was pound for pound star Naoya Inoue. The easy win that was predicted for Inoue was anything but that as Donaire gave him the toughest fight of his life. He may have come out on the losing end, but his performance has earned him a crack at WBC belt holder Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs).
For most of his six year career, Oubaali has made it look easy. But while Donaire will walk into this one as an underdog, he has already proven that he has plenty left in the tank.
3. Jermell Charlo vs Jeison Rosario
Of all the matchups on this list, WBC titlist Jermell Charlo and his unification matchup against WBA and IBF champion Jeison Rosario, was the most surprising.
Rosario came out of absolutely nowhere last year when he ripped away the titles from Julian Williams. Instead of sitting back on his laurels and milking his belts for easy paydays, Rosario has decided to attempt to add even more to his hardware collection.
Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) has gotten over his Tony Harrison saga and now finds himself fighting to become a unified champion. The betting public is already backing Charlo heavily, but they did the same when Rosario took on Williams, so he has no problem with the little amount of faith shown in him.
2. Gervonta Davis vs Leo Santa Cruz
For as explosive and dangerous as Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) has looked during his career, fans were beginning to roll their eyes whenever a new unknown fighter stood across the ring from him. A highlight reel knockout is always waiting to happen, but resistance seldom followed.
On October 24th, however, Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) will be looking to give Davis all he can handle when they face off. The four division world champion has grown tired of constant murmurs that he has eschewed the competition.
The storyline behind this one is simple. Davis has the punching power and speed on his side, while Santa Cruz is banking on his punch output and relentless pressure.
The winner of this one will have answered a ton of questions, while the loser on the other hand, will see their stock plummet.
1. Jermall Charlo vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko
Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) has gained a reputation. He’s a big puncher, aggressive personality and an unknown commodity. Even with wins over Julian Williams and Austin Trout, Charlo continues to hear the doubters. He’s asked for big name fights against the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin, but you can hear a pin drop from either of those fighters in regards to interest.
Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) may not be the opponent that he wanted, but he is without question his toughest test yet. With two razor close decision losses to Daniel Jacobs and the aforementioned Golovkin, many believe that the Ukrainian born contender should already hold a world title. Nevertheless, he’ll pick up his third chance against Charlo on September 26th.
The intrigue surrounding this one is huge. In a contest that can be essentially decided with the flip of a coin, it ranks number one on our list of the best fights to watch on the SHOWTIME Boxing schedule.
WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman Eyes Erickson Lubin vs Tony Harrison Title Eliminator
By: Hans Themistode
Jr Middleweight contender Erickson Lubin has been spending half of his quarantine time preparing himself the best way he can for whenever boxing restrictions have lifted. The other half has been spent calling out WBC titlist Jermell Charlo.
Lubin made a ton of noise from the moment he stepped onto the scene in 2013. He managed to parlay that noise and skill, into a matchup with Charlo but quickly found himself on the wrong end of a right hand that ended the night quickly. Still, even with the sour taste in his mouth, that hasn’t stopped his enthusiasm for a part two.
“He see what’s going on,” Lubin said during an Instagram live interview. “I know he sees what’s going on. He see that I’m with [trainer] Kevin Cunningham. He see what I’m doing to these fighters that, you know, most of the division is having trouble with. And, you know, he’s just trying to buy time. I feel like he’s trying to buy time. Or he’s trying to find a different route, or end up moving up or something. You know, I’m not ducking no smoke. Jermell Charlo’s a great fighter. I’m not taking anything away from him.”
At the moment, Lubin finds himself in the number one spot for the WBC and a second date with Charlo. But just because he is in the number one spot, it doesn’t quite mean that he will be challenging for a title in his next contest.
“He’s not the mandatory contender,” said WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman. “The WBC was going to order Lubin to have to fight [Tony] Harrison as a final elimination bout prior to everything that has happened. Charlo has no mandatory [due] because no one has won a final elimination bout. At this moment, Charlo is free to take any voluntary defense.”
Other than a matchup with Charlo, a possible contest with Harrison has to be music to the ears of Lubin. It wasn’t that long where he not only called out Harrison, but also gave him a deadline to respond.
“I want Tony Harrison,” said Lubin. “We gotta talk. Tony Harrison, you got 24 hours. Let’s talk.”
Lubin paced back and forth as his deadline came and went. It isn’t the first time that Lubin was forced to wait for his shot at the big leagues.
On the surface, three years may not seem like a long time. But for Lubin, it’s felt like a lifetime.
Since he picked himself up off the canvas three years ago, he has repeatedly placed his opponents there. Winning four straight contests with three coming via stoppage.
Going up against Charlo at the age of 21 may have seemed like a good idea. But now, at the age of 24, he realizes that it wasn’t the best decision he’s ever made.
“You know, I went in there pretty young,” Lubin said. “I do admit that, you know, it was probably a bit early. But, you know, just the way my skill set is and my mindset, I feel like I was ready for that fight. And I feel like, you know, I wanted to get in there so quick and become a star so soon. But, you know, God had different plans for me. You know, we bounced back. We still bounced back and right now I’m sitting at number one in the WBC, so a rematch is in the near future.”
Jermell Charlo Heaps Praise on Erickson Lubin: “He Will Win a World Title”
By: Hans Themistode
WBC Jr Middleweight champion Jermell Charlo left Erickson Lubin in a state of unconsciousness when the two met in late 2017. Lubin, 24, was the upstart. He went 143-7 during his amateur career and came flying out of the gate to the tune of an 18-0 record as a pro.
His night against Charlo didn’t go as planned but since then, he’s picked up four straight victories. Including three via stoppage. As for Charlo, he suffered a bit of a hiccup of his own when he suffered a decision loss, albeit highly controversial, to Tony Harrison. From there, Charlo bounced back, stopping Harrison in the 11th of their rematch.
With his WBC belt wrapped around his waist again, Charlo is looking ahead to bigger and better opponents. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t checking his rear view mirror. When he does take the second to glance at Lubin, he’s left very impressed.
“Lubin will win a world title,” Charlo told co-hosts Kenneth Bouhairie and Michael Rosenthal. “Lubin will knock out a lot of motherf–kers if he put his mind to it. Just leave me the f–k alone. I’m different. But I see him.”
The Charlo vs Lubin feud could be far from over as Lubin has fought his way back to the number one ranking within the WBC. And while Lubin foams at the mouth at the mere thought of a Charlo rematch. The Jr Middleweight champion seems to have bigger fish to fry.
“I haven’t thought about no rematch with Lubin because I have moved on,” Charlo said. “It’s a lot of fighters in the way. Why would I even think in my mind to go backwards? I don’t wanna fight Harrison again, I don’t wanna fight Lubin again, I don’t wanna fight none of them motherf–kers I went through. I wanna see if I can prove that I’m really the top dog, I wanna know myself.”
Erickson Lubin is Ready to Turn The Page: “I am The Best at 154 pounds”
By: Hans Themistode
Jr Middleweight contender Erickson Lubin is finally ready to put the past behind him, but he’s also ready to face it as well.
Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs) found himself on the fast track to stardom back in 2013. He was fresh off a spectacular amateur career where he went 143-7. From there, he needed just three years to add the ESPN Prospect of the year award in 2016.
In short, everything was going according to plan. Until everything went sideways as Jermell Charlo left him unconscious in the first round. When Lubin woke up, he noticed everything was gone. His undefeated record, his dream, at least temporarily, of becoming a world champion and the hype surrounding him. But while everything was falling down around him inside of the ring, it helped him get things in order outside of it.
“It didn’t just play a role inside boxing,” said Lubin to Premier Boxing Champions on Instagram Live. “It played a role outside too. It was like a character defining loss. When I lost, I was trying to see who was still with me and who was my friends so I was still trying to figure out things.”
Lubin, 24, walked into the ring at 22 years of age and lacked any real experience at the world class level. Charlo on the other hand, marched to the ring five years older and had the edge in terms of competition faced. At the time, many wondered out loud if Lubin was biting off more than he could chew. He scoffed at that notion and vowed to prove everyone wrong. Now, three years later, Lubin believes the confidence that has led him to receiving non stop praise, worked against him.
“I went in there pretty young. I admit that it was probably a bit early, but the way my skill set is and my mind is, I felt like I was ready for that fight. In actuality I wanted to be a star so soon but God had different plans for me. We still bounced back and now I’m number one in the WBC so a rematch is in the near future.”
Bouncing back is putting it mildly. Lubin took the indelible mark that Charlo left on him and turned it into a deleterious rage. Beating his last four opponents and with the exception of his most recent contest, his previous three didn’t see the final bell.
Now, Lubin finds himself in a familiar position. Number one in the WBC and mandatory challenger to Charlo again. A rematch shouldn’t be an issue for the champion. He already has a mental edge because of how easy he made it look against Lubin the first time. But that was 2017. In 2020, it’s a whole different story.
“He sees what’s going on. He sees that I’m with Kevin Cunningham and what I’m doing to these fighters that most of these fighters are having trouble with. I feel like he’s just trying to buy time. Or he’s trying to find a different route or end up moving up. I’m not ducking any smoke. Jermell Charlo is a great fighter, I’m not taking anything away from him, but I feel like I am the best at 154 pounds. My main goal is to be world champion and not just world champion but to be unified and undisputed.”