By Ryan Maquiñana
USA Boxing president Dr. Charles Butler sent an open letter to former undisputed heavyweight world champion and current pro promoter Mike Tyson earlier this morning in a plea not to sign a top amateur.
In an excerpt from the letter, Butler wrote:
“We have heard that you were waiting for early October so that our best hope, a 17-year-old athlete, can turn 18 and be of age to sign a contract with you. We have offered him a spot in our resident program at the U.S. Olympic Training Center where he can train in a safe environment and we can provide for his education. The facilities and support services at the Olympic Training Center are unmatched and would benefit him and his future in boxing greatly.”
A source has advised BoxingScene.com that the boxer in question is Erickson Lubin of Kissimmee, Fla., who was named Outstanding Boxer at the National PAL last year and won the National Junior Olympics twice.
Lubin, a rangy boxer-puncher who has been campaigning at junior welterweight mainly under the tutelage of Jason Galarza in the Orlando area, is turning 18 years old this week and had been in negotiations with Iron Mike Productions as late as Monday. Lubin has been rumored to be in the midst of signing a package deal with Galarza’s son, Dennis, who recently announced on social media that the two friends would ink contracts with Iron Mike.
“I’m still waiting to see the contract,” said Todd Harlib, who has helped coach Lubin for several years. “I think [Erickson] wants to do it, but he really would stay amateur and stick with USA Boxing, but USA Boxing takes forever to do things.”
Harlib elaborated on his comments, targeting his words at the current American amateur system.
“I recommended to [USA Boxing executive director] Anthony [Bartkowski] that they just signed a deal with Brand Jordan,” Harlib said. “I said, ‘Go to Brand Jordan and tell them that if you want a future Olympic gold medalist, this is what it’s going to cost to keep him amateur.’ But the second anyone would get wind of it, someone else is going to complain about why they aren’t getting any of it. But it’s politics. We can’t put our best athletes in the ring because everyone wants to get a piece of the pie.”
Losing Lubin would definitely hamper USA Boxing’s chances of making the podium in Rio de Janeiro 2016. The American men came home from London last summer without a medal of any kind for the first time in history, and have not won gold since 2004, when Andre Ward captured top honors at light heavyweight.
“Erickson’s a special kid,” Harlib said. “He doesn’t know how to lose. I’m going with the team to Kazakhstan this week. I’d feel a lot better if he was going with us.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.