Record: 29-0 (14 KO) ... Streak: W29 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'11" / 73" ... Age: 27
Thoughts: What a difference a fight can make in terms of how a fighter is perceived. In May 2016, when Charlo fought John Jackson for the vacant WBC title in Las Vegas, the story coming out of the fight was less about Charlo knocking Jackson out in the eighth round than how much he’d struggled before then.
Charlo trailed 69-64 on all three official cards against Jackson before scoring the KO. He badly struggled in the fight, and even he admitted he was clearly losing. But he did knock Jackson out, did get the win, and did win the title.
Still, it (along with a debatable 2015 win over Vanes Martirosyan) was a chance for his doubters to point out his vulnerability going forward, to continue being skeptical that he could be a top fighter.
Then came his defense this past April against mandatory challenger Charles Hatley, where he completely dominated his opponent before a killer sixth round knockout. If you’ve forgotten the KO, here it is:
In the moments following the fight, it was easy to see Jermell Charlo now as a dangerous titleholder, someone who had perhaps found his rhythm and a style that really works for him. It was always stranger that his twin brother was a big puncher and Jermell wasn’t seen that way, and maybe this new aggression would serve him well.
But how good was Hatley? How prepared was Hatley? He hadn’t fought in a year and a half, and his best win was over Anthony Mundine. So how much stock can you put into that win, anyway? That was the comedown thinking.
Charlo can fight, but now he’s got a young, very talented opponent in front of him, who’s been active and is, if we’re to trust the matchmakers, as ready as he’s going to get.
Record: 18-0 (13 KO) ... Streak: W18 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'9½" / 74½" ... Age: 22
Thoughts: Touted as one of the best prospects in boxing for the last few years, Lubin turned pro young for a heralded American, debuting in November 2013, a month after his 18th birthday, opting to enter the paid ranks rather than prepare for a likely spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.
Now 18-0 as a professional, Lubin enters his first world title fight at age 22, and it’s not one of those things where a power promoter finds a weak spot — say, a vacant title with a highly-ranked but unimposing opponent — and capitalizes, naming a young fighter “world champion” in the process.
Instead, Lubin is fighting a serious opponent, who is only 27 himself and has proven to be a top fighter in the 154-pound ranks. If you’d asked me even six or seven months ago to name a scenario where Lubin would fight for a world title in 2017, I’d have figured the aforementioned situation, not that he’d be taking on Jermell Charlo in a really tough matchup.
What Lubin does best is go to the body. He’s not the tallest 154-pound fighter, but he’s got good reach and he can be downright relentless at his best. That said, this is a big, big step up for him. There’s a lot of ground to cover from the likes of Daniel Sandoval, Ivan Montero, and Jorge Cota before you get to Jermell Charlo.
Matchup Grade: B. This one is really interesting to me, because it’s a risk for Lubin, a celebrated young prospect, and it may or may not say something about what the PBC matchmakers think of Charlo. Or maybe we’re seeing something truly rare in modern boxing: an actual risk being taken by matchmakers to make an intriguing fight.