By Jake Donovan
At this current rate, it appears that Erickson Lubin will enjoy his first world title before he can enjoy a drink to celebrate such an event.
The 18-year old blue-chip prospect from Orlando, Florida continues to grow at an accelerated pace through his first year as a pro. There once existed hopes that Lubin would remain in the amateur ranks long enough to make a run at a Gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, but it’s been clear from his pro debut last November that his talents are far more suited for the pro ranks.
With that in mind, his handlers have begun the process of matching him tougher than was expected to be the case at this stage in his career. Lubin will face veteran Noe Bolanos on July 10 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, in his first scheduled eight-round fight.
“I’ve never been six rounds before. Then again, I’ve never even been four rounds before,” comments Lubin (5-0, 5KOs) who has stopped all five of his opponents in three rounds or less since signing with Mike Tyson’s Iron Mike Productions on his 18th birthday last October. “I’m real confident heading into this fight and my career is moving along.”
The pattern enjoyed by the teenaged welterweight is eerily similar to that of the early years of his promoter’s days spent as a rising heavyweight. Tyson took the boxing world by storm, rescuing a declining heavyweight division with his breakneck schedule before winning his first major title at just 20 years of age.
In Lubin, Tyson and his team at Iron Mike Productions see that same spark, which explains the jump in plans.
“There are excepctions to the rule. I was,” Tyson says in terms of building a prospect. “I believe Lubin is and will be an exception. We have young talent that we are moving gradually. Erickson is different. He's mentally tough and ahead of his time. He can handle it.
“He left the amateurs because he wanted a challenge. He was so much better than everyone else that he grew bored. We can't afford to put him in with any more fighters who won't help him grow.”
Thus came the decision to put him in with Bolanos, a 36-fight veteran from Mexico known for giving an honest night’s work on any given night. The matchup is a significant change of pace from what Lubin has seen through five fights, though all of which have come against more experienced opponents with winning records.
“I wanted a veteran opponent for this fight,” insists Lubin, whose last fight – a 2nd round knockout of Jovan Ramirez in April – came on the non-televised portion of a Shobox telecast that drew accolades from the Showtime staff at ringside waiting for the cameras to roll. “I see this fight as my coming out party, part of a plan that is already mapped out.”
Lubin’s bout with Bolanos will air live on Fox Sports 1, as the opening leg of a tripleheader headlined by the title fight rematch between Argenis Mendez and Rances Barthelemy.
Both Lubin and Mendez are promoted by Iron Mike Productions and frequently train together at the IMP gym in south Florida. Being around superior talent, Lubin insists, can only make him better. So, too, can serving under Tyson’s wing, learning from both the good and bad that come from the career of his childhood hero and the advice he carries these days.
“Mike has been good to me from the moment I signed,” I remember watching him when I was little. To have the chance to have met him was an amazing experience. Now he’s promoting my career, helping me get to that next level. We talk all of the time, he tells me to stay focused, gives me past examples (Tyson is also a noted boxing historian), and keeps my head level.”
Part of the grounding process also means exploring new challenges as he marches from newcomer to prospect to contender all in the blink of an eye.
“With this upcoming fight, I will have to know how to pace myself,” Lubin says of the learning experiences he expects from next week’s fight. “I have a guy that is capable of going the full eight rounds with me. Every punch I throw will come with knockout power, from start to finish. I don’t look for the knockout, but know that with the training I’ve had am capable of making it happen at any point in the fight.”
With a win, the expectation is to continue to seek stronger opposition while remaining active.
“I see myself at 12-0 by the end of the year, and hopefully fighting 12-round fights by the beginning of next year,” Lubin envisions. “I like that I’m already fighting eight rounds now. By this time next year, I see myself as a contender.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox