Undefeated junior middleweight Erickson Lubin might be the best boxing prospect from the United States. The 19-year-old from Florida faces Rodolfo Quintanilla on Friday night at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. ESPN’s Friday Night Fights will televise the fight before the main event featuring middleweights Sergio Mora and Abraham Han.
Lubin, a southpaw who is already facing decent competition for such a young fighter, is excited about his moment to shine on national television. Friday will be his third eight-rounder in just nine professional fights.
“I feel great,” Lubin told Bleacher Report. “I plan on giving people what they expect of me.”
Expectations are high for Lubin, a talented young fighter who opted for the professional ranks over chasing a spot on the 2016 Olympic team, something he was a favorite to accomplish. In fact, Lubin was by and large considered one of Team USA’s best chances to medal in Rio de Janeiro, something the men’s side hasn’t done since Deontay Wilder captured bronze in 2008.
“It was a big decision, but after sitting down and talking with my team, my coach and my family, I feel like we made the right decision.”
Mike Tyson’s now-defunct promotional venture Iron Mike Productions originally signed Lubin. He said he was disappointed Tyson was no longer involved in his career as a promoter but that the former heavyweight champion was still in his corner as an interested supporter.
“It’s a business. We did what we had to do. It’s still the same people, same management and trainers and stuff. It’s just Mike Tyson isn’t part of the business anymore. He’s still supportive and stuff like that. We did what we had to do.”
Lubin listed Tyson as one of the fighters he grew up admiring and said it was hard to lose Tyson in that capacity.
“Yeah, of course. It’s Mike Tyson! So it's hard not to have him as part of the promotional team anymore, but to have him step up and say that he’ll keep watching me and supporting me—that right there was a relief.”
Lubin doesn’t emulate Tyson’s style when the bell rings. He’s a rangy southpaw with good power who fights at a measured but aggressive pace. In fact, one gets the impression from watching him that he’s watched a few Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Meldrick Taylor fights in his life and tries to mimic their styles.
While Lubin admitted Mayweather and Taylor were fighters he greatly admired growing up, he said his approach in the ring was unique to his talent and his ability.
In short, he takes what his opponent gives him.
“It just comes out of me. I look for weaknesses in my opponent, and I go off of that.”
Still, like Mayweather and Taylor, Lubin isn’t short of confidence. He expects to be fighting for world titles by the end of next year, and he said his aspirations are as high for himself as anyone’s.
“I want to become a world champion in multiple divisions, win multiple titles and be successful outside of boxing also.”
Lubin began boxing at four years old. He grew up in the sport and never wanted to do anything else. A gifted athlete, he tried other sports but nothing compared to the sweet science.
“Most people find something else to do, but I was in the gym every day. It’s all I knew.”
The fight game came naturally to Lubin. He said he was good at boxing as soon as he put on a pair of gloves. It's almost as if he was born to be a fighter.
Lubin prides himself in wanting to fight the best. When I mentioned the deep roster of 154-pound fighters by name—Erislandy Lara, Canelo Alvarez, Jermell Charlo and Julian Williams—Lubin jumped in before I could finish rattling the names off.
“I want to fight all of those guys.”
While we shouldn’t expect him in the ring with anyone near that level of fighter anytime soon, it bodes well for the future of his career, now fighting under Goossen Promotions, that Lubin wants to take on such stalwart competition.
Lubin is ahead of the game in that way. He knows fans don’t just want to see fighters—elite prospects or not—pad their resumes with names of no-hopers and never-weres. Fans want to see good fights.
“I’m in the sport for a reason, not to go against the weak, but to build a name for myself. And by the time it’s time for me to go against champions for titles, I’ll be prepared. You have to beat quality opponents and make statements [to make a name for yourself in boxing].”
Lubin hopes to make one such statement on Friday against Quintanilla.
“I can’t really predict the fight. May the best man win, but I plan on making a big statement.”
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.