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Erickson Lubin vs. Terrell Gausha: The Play-In


In an effort to expand the postseason without overly extending in, several sports have added or flirted with play-in games. Baseball has done it for most of the last decade. The NCAA basketball tournament has expanded them into a small group of “First Four” games. In these exceptional times, even the NBA joined the fun with a one game entry to the playoffs “Bubble” showdown between the Grizzlies and Trailblazers.

In boxing, one can make the case that any fight is a play-in. Single losses in a low activity era are perceived as more crippling than ever. A fighter on their way to a shot at even one of boxing’s cornucopia of belts can find themselves years away from their destination.

Or a second chance.

This Saturday, Showtime (9 PM EST) features a PBC main event between a pair of one-loss Jr. middleweights trying to stay vibrant in one of boxing’s deepest current weight classes. No matter what happens this weekend, both can always know they at least got to a title opportunity. For each, it is their lone taste of defeat.

Gausha and Lubin can circle the date of a shared card, on October 17, 2017, as a point where their fates have crossed paths before.

33-year old 2012 US Olympian Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KO) came up short in challenging Cuba’s Erislandy Lara for the WBA strap. Gausha came off the floor in round four to go the distance but never really threatened to win. In two fights since, he’s 1-0-1 with the draw coming against former titlist Austin Trout. Many observers walked away feeling Gausha had done enough to win and he enters this weekend with a hint of momentum.

24-year old Erickson Lubin had a more disastrous turn in his shot at the WBC belt. Jermell Charlo knocked Lubin out in the first round. A single left hand so devastated the challenger referee Harvey Dock stopped counting. Lubin wasn’t getting up that night.

erickson-lubin (4)_3

Lubin has gotten up in the aftermath, winning four in a row since the Charlo loss. Both Lubin and Guasha feature prominently in the WBA ratings (Lubin at 4, Gausha at 6) and Lubin has also arrived back in the top spot in the WBC ratings. With less than two weeks until the unification showdown between Charlo (WBC) and Jeison Roasrio (WBA/IBF), this weekend is high stakes for both main event competitors.

It doesn’t mean a title shot is necessarily next but it’s a hell of a lot farther away for the defeated. 

Both men’s affiliation with the PBC probably keeps them more in the mix than many others in the division but even that only slightly mitigates the minefield. Writing about the current state of welterweight a few weeks back, it was noted the PBC has “a Don King at heavyweight in his heyday level of near checkmate on a single weight class” at 147 lbs.

It is every bit the same case at Jr. middleweight.

Take a quick look at the TBRB or Ring Ratings, a fair enough gauge of the state of the overall division given the way sanctioning bodies tend not to rate each other’s beltholders. Weigh it against the fighters noted as part of the PBC family. The depth of talent the PBC has is plain as day at 154 lbs. PBC fighters make up all of the top six in the TBRB top ten and eight of ten overall. In Ring’s top ten, they occupy the top seven and eight of the top nine. Michael Soro and Patrick Teixeira are the lone outliers in both top tens. Gausha doesn’t currently make either while Lubin sits at number nine in Ring’s.

Fans have benefited greatly from this particular consolidation. The round robin at Jr. middleweight in recent years has featured more than a half dozen contests between current members of the TBRB or Ring top tens at Jr. middleweight already. We’ve had some outstanding fights (Charlo-Tony Harrison II, Jarret Hurd-Lara, Hurd-Julian Williams), upsets (Rosario-Williams) and will soon likely have three major title belts consolidated.

There is no particular end in sight.

Even with the benefit of being part of a shared tent, the PBC’s depth in class demands performance to justify and sell future matches. Gausha and Lubin are fighting to move up a perilous pecking order.

They are seeking to play-in.      

Cliff’s Notes…

Juan Francisco Estrada-Carlos Cuadras II in 2020 might sound like a cold match given what Cuadras has done since the first. Still, the superfly foursome of Estrada, Cuadras, Roman Gonzalez, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai has such a high hit rate it’s hard not to think this has a good chance of adding quality to their story...We might be closer to Estrada-Gonzalez II then we’ve ever been. Israel Gonzalez should be a good gauge of whether Gonzalez-Yafai was a last gasp or the start of a second wind...It’s hard to compare boxing to team sports, but in terms of inexact analogy, one can wonder if Mike Weaver knows how the Denver Nuggets feel right now...Alexander Povetkin-Dillian Whyte II is as intriguing in the ring as anything left in 2020. Let’s hope they can deliver another roller coaster ride...Complaints about the Charlo show being on pay-per-view is much ado about nothing. The price is set at generally the standard for the current market, the card is loaded, and it’s Showtime so one can assume that replays will be available sooner than later...If Tom Brady is looking for external motivations, last weekend gave him enough to fill bulletin boards for the rest of his career...New boxing hall of fame ballots are just a couple weeks away. Always interesting to see what new names are there to be considered.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by genrick on 09-17-2020

Gausha gets wild when he's angry, which I like. He had his moments in the Lara fight. He'll have his moments in this fight as well. This could be a close fight.

Comment by punishing on 09-17-2020

I dont see that at all. I can't remember Gausha ever having anything close to a war. Dude is boring honestly and not that good.

Comment by KTFOKING on 09-17-2020

[QUOTE=Al Broker;20764603]Tbh I don’t mind this fight. I expect Lubin to win, but if Gausha wins what’s next?! Hopefully not a rematch. I take it Haymon would want Lubin vs Lara. Or if Jermell wins against Rosario then Lubin could…

Comment by Citizen Koba on 09-17-2020

[QUOTE=genrick;20765177]What are the odds in this fight?[/QUOTE] [url][/url] About -500 to -600 on Lubin, +350 to +400 on Gausha in US odds if that's what you prefer.

Comment by genrick on 09-17-2020

I'm predicting a war here.

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