Worth the hype? 3 title bouts Saturday at Barclays Center
NEW YORK (AP) — The advertisements brag about the world’s best 154-pound fighters populating the boxing card at Barclays Center on Saturday night.
You want champions, they have champions: three of them.
Undefeated fighters? How about four?
Not only that, but these are action guys. From WBA super welterweight champion Erislandy Lara making the sixth defense of his title against undefeated contender Terrell Gausha to WBC super welterweight champ Jermell Charlo will facing No. 1 contender Erickson Lubin — neither has lost a fight — to IBF junior middleweight title holder Jarrett Hurd making his first defense against former world champion Austin Trout, there should be plenty of punching on Showtime.
There’s already been plenty of boasting, starting with Lara, the most established fighter on the card at age 34 and with four years in a row owning a belt. One of the two losses for the Cuban-born Lara (24-2-2) was the Canelo Alvarez by split decision. He’s won five straight since.
“I will show why I’m the No. 1 fighter in the division,” said Lara, who insists he is interested in unifying the titles at some point. “Just another day at work, another day at the office for me. I have to do what I have to do and be a smart boxer to win this fight. I’m going to have to show a little bit of everything: show my boxing, and show my power. He will see a little bit of everything on Saturday night.”
He would be Gausha, a 2012 U.S Olympian who has won all 20 of his fights. Lara, though, is by far his most accomplished opponent.
“It’s time for the young guys and Olympians like me, Errol Spence and Rau’Shee Warren, to take over,” said Gausha, who at 30 isn’t all that young for the fight game. “It’s our time.”
Charlo makes his second defense and comes off an impressive knockout of Charles Hatley at Barclays in April. It’s been eight years since Charlo, whose brother Jarmell also has held championships, has taken on someone with a perfect record.
He’s sure that experience (29 victories, 14 knockouts) will win out.
“This young guy here has a big fight coming up,” Charlo said of Lubin, who has won all 18 of his bouts, 13 by knockout. “I already know what I have to do. They got to be the ones that try and figure out a game plan. Try and come up with a ‘Plan B’ or ‘Plan A.’
“You got a lot of hype man, a lot of people around you buzzing. They keep you going, they keep you rowdy. That’s good. We clap too, we love it. We enjoy it. But Saturday night, the fight that I thought should have been the main event of the card is going to be the one that steals the show. We did this before, we will do it again.”
Lubin gets his first title shot at age 22. He stopped Jorge Cota in March at Barclays, Lubin’s most recent fight.
He’s not buying any of the youth vs. experience chatter. Indeed, Lubin believes he’s already seen anything an opponent can present in the ring.
“I know it is a huge step up because I’m fighting for the WBC title, not because of my opponent,” said Lubin, nicknamed “The Hammer.”
“I’ve seen all types of fighters through training, fighting and through amateurs, so this is definitely a big step up when it comes to me fighting for the WBC title.
“I’m not even in my prime yet. I’m ready to capture this title and I’m hungrier than ever and I know he’s hungry. He’s fairly young and we’re both undefeated and we both have a huge entourage. We’re just backed up by a lot of people and we got hype behind us. We’re ready to see who’s the hype and who’s the real deal.”
Hurd vs. Trout is the opener of the triple championship card, but there’s plenty of intrigue in this one.
Hurd has stopped his last six opponents, but Trout, who held the WBA and WBC super welterweight crowns, has never been knocked out in 30 fights. His three defeats have been to Alvarez, Lara and Charlo, so there is no doubting his resume.
Not that Hurd (20-0, 15 KOs) is particularly impressed, even though his list of opposition isn’t as notable as Trout’s.
“I really want to go out here and make a statement and be the first to stop Austin Trout and send him into retirement,” Hurd said.
“He’s right in saying the fight isn’t going to go the distance,” Trout responded, “but it’s funny because he’s not going to be the one doing the knocking out. You know this man isn’t going to last 12 rounds. I’m going to drown this kid. We’re taking him into deep waters. He’s never been there. This is uncharted territory for him.”