NEW YORK — Of the three junior middleweight world title fights on the card most of the pre-fight interest surrounded titleholder Jermell Charlo’s second defense against Erickson Lubin, the 22-year-old 2016 ESPN.com prospect of the year tabbed for stardom from the day he turned pro on his 18th birthday.
With Lubin taking an enormous step up in competition level many thought the fight with an opponent of Charlo’s caliber might be too much, too soon. It was. Way too much.
Charlo annihilated Lubin in a first-round knockout victory to retain his 154-pound world title Saturday night on the card headlined by Erislandy Lara-Terrell Gausha at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Virtually nothing had happened for most of the round when suddenly Charlo connected with a right hand on the chin when they were in close and Lubin collapsed to the canvas. His arm was eerily outstretched as referee Harvey Dock began to count but waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 41 seconds without completing it.
“They were giving him a lot of attention. I was quiet the whole time,” said Charlo, who earned $450,000. “They said they were going to come take my title. I had to defend it. They didn’t know what I was brining into this and I think (Lubin) was worried about the wrong things.”
When Lubin, 22, of Orlando, Florida, got to his feet and was helped back to his corner he seemingly had no idea where he was. He was staggering and unsteady when he sat down on his stool, not even realizing what had happened. He said he was OK but he sure didn’t look like it.
“I’m fine. He caught me with a blind shot. I didn’t see it coming. He landed it,” said Lubin, who made $225,000. “I felt like when I got up I could have kept fighting, but it’s boxing. It happens.
“I got caught with a nice shot on the chin and couldn’t recover in time. I didn’t see the punch coming, so I have no excuses. I’m young and have plenty of fight left in me. This is just a minor setback. I’ll be back sooner than later and hungrier than ever.”
Leading up to the fight it was Lubin who did a lot of talking, but he could not take the punches from Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs), 27, of Houston, who has now scored impressive knockouts in all three of his title bouts. He won a vacant title by eighth-round knockout against John Jackson in May 2016 and drilled mandatory challenger Charles Hatley in the sixth round in April. He was even more impressive against Lubin (18-1, 13 KOs), another mandatory challenger many considered one of the top rising contenders in boxing.
Now Charlo would like to unify titles, be it against main event winner Erislandy Lara or Jarrett Hurd, who retained his belt on the undercard.
“We’re going to unify. The other champions want to fight me and I’ll take any of them,” Charlo said. “Give me another title. I want Hurd. Hurd just won. Give me Hurd.”
Hurd stops Trout in thriller
In an incredible, action-packed fight of the year candidate, junior middleweight Jarrett Hurd retained his world title for the first time as he scored a 10th-round knockout of former titlist Austin Trout, who showed enormous heart but ultimately took a beating.
Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs), 26, of Accokeek, Maryland, knocked out Tony Harrison in February to win a vacant world title and was defending it for the first time against Trout, who was returning from a 17-month layoff since a decision loss to Charlo for a world title in May 2016.
“It’s most definitely tougher to defend the title than win it,” Hurd said. “I’m always the one that comes on stronger at the end of the fight. We knew we were going to wear Austin Trout down in the later rounds and eventually stop him.”
Hurd got off to a slow start, barely throwing any punches in the first two rounds while Trout established his jab, but Hurd seemed to wake up in the action-packed third round as he and Trout traded clean shots. But Hurd is a much bigger puncher and seemed to do more damage with his blows. Trout continued to land clean shots in the fourth round, but Hurd just walked right through them.
Hurd’s power was clear in the fifth round when he hurt Trout twice with powerful right hands to the head in yet another action round. They kept it up in the sixth round, trading with abandon, but Hurd did major damage. He badly hurt Trout with a right hand that had him staggering on jelly legs, though Trout came back in the final seconds of the round.
Trout (30-4, 17 KOs), who made $225,000, opened a bad and bloody cut over Hurd’s left eye in the seventh round and Hurd dabbed at it as Trout went after him. But Hurd, who earned $330,000, landed a punishing right hand that nearly dropped Trout as the crowd went wild.
“My cut made me a little better with my head movement,” Hurd said. “I’m always a slow starter. Trout was good in the beginning, but I showed that it’s tough trying to go the distance with Jarrett Hurd. The cut over my left eye came early in the seventh round from an accidental head butt, but I feel like that actually helped force me to move my head better.”
In the opening moments of the eighth round, Hurd landed a massive right hand that nearly dropped Trout, who somehow managed to stay upright and then continued to battle Hurd toe to toe. By the ninth round, Trout’s right eye was nearly swollen closed from taking so many clean shots.
That Trout, a 32-year-old southpaw from Las Cruces, New Mexico, was still able to stay on his feet through all the punishment was impressive even as his legs appeared to weaken in the late rounds. He took a beating in the 10th round. Finally, after the round, referee Eddie Claudio stopped the fight upon advice of the ringside doctor in Trout’s corner. It was the first time Trout has been stopped in any of his four defeats, including to Canelo Alvarez.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Hurd landed 265 of 753 punches (35 percent) and Trout connected with 208 of 673 blows (31 percent), but Trout’s shots didn’t have nearly the steam on them as Hurd’s.
Trout, who was taken to the hospital following the fight as a precaution, was not available for post-fight comments.
Hurd, nicknamed “Swift,” said he hopes to unify titles next year with either Charlo or the winner of the Lara-Gausha main event.
“Team Swift, we don’t run from anyone,” Hurd said. “I’m ready to unify — 2018 is the year for unifications. It doesn’t matter who it is. I’m ready to fight anyone.”
Detroit middleweight Tony Harrison (25-2, 20 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Paul Valenzuela Jr. (20-6, 14 KOs), of Mexico, in a hellacious battle. Harrison by scores of 80-71, 78-773 and 78-73, but it was no walk in the park.
Harrison, 27, was fighting for the time since February, when he suffered a ninth-round knockout loss to Hurd in a vacant world title fight. Valenzuela, 30, was also seeking to shake off a defeat in March. They produced an action-packed battle.
Referee Steve Willis docked one point from Valenzuela for a low blow in the fifth round after twice warning Harrison for the same infraction but not taking a point.
The seventh round was wild. Harrison staggered Valenzuela with a right hand but he came right back and dropped Harrison to a knee with a right hand but Willis missed the call and the fight continued. Valenzuela continued to tee off and was close to stopping Harrison but he rallied late in the round and nearly had Valenzuela out on his feet as it came to an end.
Women’s featherweight world titleholder Cindy Serrano (27-5-3, 10 KOs), 35, of Brooklyn, claimed a hard-fought split decision against Hungary’s Edina Kiss (13-6, 7 KOs), 27, in a nontitle junior lightweight bout. Serrano, the older sister of five-division world titleholder Amanda Serrano, won 79-73 and 78-74 on two scorecards while one judge awarded the bout to Kiss 78-74.
Junior middleweight Chordale Booker (8-0, 4 KOs), 26, of Brooklyn, won a hard-fought slugfest against fellow southpaw Malcolm McCallister (9-1, 8 KOs), 26, of Long Beach, California. Booker won 79-72, 78-73 and 78-73 over a game McCallister, who got dropped hard between the ropes in the seventh round but fought Booker toe to toe in the eighth and final round as the crowd cheered wildly.
Brooklyn welterweight Richardson Hitchins (3-0, 1 KO), a 20-year-old 2016 Olympian who represented his parents’ home country of Haiti and who is promoted by Floyd Mayweather, rolled to a shutout decision against Pennsylvania’s Jordan Morales (2-3, 2 KOs), 28. All three judges scored it 40-36.
Bronx, New York heavyweight George Arias (9-0, 5 KOs), 25, survived a second-round knockdown and stopped Mario Heredia (14-6, 12 KOs), 24, of San Diego, after at the of the sixth round. It was a brutal slugfest as both showed heart and grit. But after the sixth round the doctor called for the fight to be stopped in Heredia’s corner because of all the punishment he had taken.
Welterweight Julian Sosa (10-0-1, 3 KOs), 21, of Brooklyn, dropped Erick Daniel Martinez (14-10-1, 8 KOs), 26, of Mexico, in the third round and cruised to a shutout decision, 40-35 on all three scorecards.