By Thomas Gerbasi
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York - What began as a war of nerves between junior middleweights Jermell Charlo and Erickson Lubin ended suddenly in Barclays Center Saturday night, as Charlo retained his WBC title for the second time via devastating first round knockout.
"He caught me with a shot I didn't see," said the 22-year-old Lubin. "It's boxing."
It was boxing for the much of the opening round, as the two rivals attempted to feel each other out after a heated build-up to the bout. But with one right hand to the jaw, Charlo put out the lights, with Lubin clearly dazed on the mat as referee Harvey Dock intervened at the 2:41 mark.
"They were giving him a lot of attention," Charlo said. "I was quiet the whole time. They said they were going to come take my title. I had to defend it."
Statement made, Houston's Charlo now has his sights on unifying the 154-pound belts, with his initial target being IBF champion Jarrett Hurd, who successfully defended his title on the same Brooklyn card, stopping Austin Trout in 10 rounds.
"We're going to unify," he said the 27-year-old, who won his title against John Jackson in May 2016. "The other champions want to fight me and I'll take any of them. Give me another title. I want Hurd. Hurd just won. Give me Hurd."
With the win, Charlo improves to 30-0 with 15 KOs. Lubin falls to 18-1 with 13 KOs.
Also on the card, welterweight fan favorite Julian Sosa made his hometown fans happy in a swing bout, parlaying a third-round knockdown into a shutout four-round decision victory over Erick Daniel Martinez.
Scores were 40-35 across the board for Sosa, now 10-0-1 with 4 KOs. Martinez falls to 14-10-1 with 8 KOs.
Former world title challenger Tony Harrison returned to action with an eight-round unanimous decision over Mexico's Paul Valenzuela Jr.
Scores were 80-71 and 78-73 twice for Harrison, now 25-2 with 20 KOs. Valenzuela falls to 20-6 with 14 KOs.
Valenzuela was durable but provided little for Harrison to worry about offensively in the early rounds, which meant he took a steady stream of punishment - particularly to the body - from the patient Detroit native, who was back in action for the first time since a losing effort against Jarrett Hurd for the vacant IBF 154-pound crown in February.
In the fifth round, Valenzuela lost a point from referee Steve Willis after a blatant low blow that followed several complaints from the Santa Rosalia native for low shots.
Harrison put his foot on the gas in the seventh, rocking Valenzuela with several flush blows before getting stunned himself midway through the frame. Seeing his chance, Valenzuela went on the attack but ran out of gas, and then it was Harrison's turn, but when Valenzuela lost his mouthpiece, it earned him some key seconds to recover and he was able to make it through the round and the rest of the fight.
WBO featherweight champion Cindy Serrano stayed busy against Hungary's Edina Kiss, winning an eight-round split decision in a non-title junior lightweight matchup.
Scores were 78-74, 79-73 and a bizarre 74-78 for Brooklyn's Serrano, now 27-5-3 with 10 KOs. Kiss falls to 13-6 with 7 KOs.
The pattern of the bout was established in the opening round and never wavered, as Serrano was too quick and technically sound for the aggressive Kiss, who is now 0-3 against the Serrano sisters, having been stopped twice by five-division world champ Amanda.