By Peter Lim
Wasn’t the punch Jermell Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs) deployed to knock out Erickson Lubin (18-1, 13 KOs) in the first round eerily reminiscent of Mike Tyson’s fight-ending blow, also in the opening round, against Michael Spinks in 1988? Both Spinks and Lubin ran their jaws smack into the punch - a hybrid right uppercut/hook – when they made evasive moves by ducking to their left like they were anticipating an incoming right cross.
Despite his nondescript 50 percent knockout ratio, Charlo has stopped his last four opponents, three of which were in world title fights. A few weeks prior to the Lubin fight, Charlo talked about fine-tuning his technique to enhance his punching power.
"I'm sitting down on my punches a lot more," Charlo said. “I’ve been working on the basics of power, how you turn punches over, how to really sit down on punches and how to really commit to that.”
But it was something else Charlo said during training camp that might have been a harbinger his brutal and sudden blowout of Lubin.
Asked if he felt any pressure to outdo himself after his last fight during which he spectacularly separated Charles Hatley from his senses – a candidate for KO of the Year - Charlo, with a veiled smirk, responded: "If you think that fight was Knockout of the Year …” before checking himself and stopping short of completing the sentence.
Like a fighter regaining his footing after a momentary stumble, Charlo quickly reset and continued: “I'm fighting a young prospect, not a contender yet. We can go 12, we can get the knockout. The (Hatley) knockout is already over and done with. I'm not harnessing or dwelling on it anymore. I did what I had to do against Charles Hatley; he ran his mouth and I made him shut it. That’s over with."
Did Charlo almost inadvertently reveal a chink in Lubin’s armor that he and his camp had identified but were keeping under wraps?