Premier Boxing Champions will feature the 154 lb division on SHOWTIME (9PM ET), with a few fire fights that should heat up Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Now that all the hype and weigh-ins are done, it's time to weigh in on these marquee match ups.
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ERISLANDY LARA VS TERRELL GAUSHA
For WBA/IBO super welterweight champion Erislandy Lara (24-2-2, 14KOs), it's been a long time coming for success after surviving a makeshift boat and shark infested waters during a perilous Cuban defection for glory. At 34, “The American Dream”, is running out of fistic oceans to explore and needs to make a big splash in his tango against Terrell Gausha (20-0, 14KOs).
In July 2014, Lara had a summit with Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez and arguably did enough to steal a win. But let's be honest– his biggest fight to date was boring as hell, so he would be wise to turn the upstart Gausha's head into a geiser to strengthen appeal. With divisions North and South watching, Lara had better take off his running shoes and walk the walk of his talk.
Prediction: LARA BY UD
The slick Cuban has safety first embedded in his DNA and doesn't like going outside of his comfort zone. Still remarkably athletic, Lara's physical dimension is vastly superior to that of the solid, workmanlike Gausha– who strikes with authority. Look for Lara's overall speed advantage to befuddle Gausha and impress just enough to drum up the beat for a war with perhaps the winner of “Swift” Jarrett Hurd V Austin Trout.
“SWIFT” JARRETT HURD V AUSTIN TROUT
I remember thinking Jarrett Hurd (20-0, 14KOs) was something special in November 2015. “Swift” had just brutally knocked out Frank Galarza to announce his arrival, at a time when Austin Trout (30-3, 17KOs) was using him to recharge his career, before taking on Jermall Charlo in May 2016.
Trout, 33, dropped a razor-thin decision to Charlo and is as crafty as they come. He gave Miguel Cotto, Lara and Canelo fits in his only defeats, all via decision. But if he'd heard that Hurd was no longer the learner he was as “his” former sparring partner, then he knew for sure after watching Jarrett breakdown and bomb Detriot's Tony Harrison to capture the IBF super welterweight title in April. This is a great match-up to see what's left for Trout and on the horizon for Hurd.
Prediction: Hurd TKO 10
Hurd just has this something extra in him, an intangible you can't quite put your fingers on, yet, you know it exists. Swift wants to be legend, and sorta reminds me of a more technical Paul Williams with relentless nature of Antonio Margarito. I think that will eventually subdue the craftsman Trout, in a fight that should lead to a showdown with Lara.
JERMELL CHARLO V ERICKSON LUBIN (pictured above in Trapp photo)
This is the fight we all want to see.
If Jermell Charlo, 27, is right about the 22 year-old Erickson Lubin being a mere prospect, then this title shot for the WBC super welterweight championship comes with more than the risk of him just losing. It could be sorta like taking one of those late night infomercial drugs a little too early. Sure it can give you instant relief– but it may have side effects forever. I don't think Charlo will ruin Lubin, in as much as “The Hammer” is capable of driving a nail in his plans. That's why this bout is so intriguing.
If we are to go by strictly the 2017 eye test and word of mouth, then Charlo (29-0, 14KOs) is headed for stardom. His 6th round demolition of Charles Hatley in April revealed a stark contrast to the iffy fighter I witnessed get an 8th round stoppage of John Jackson in Las Vegas during May 2016.
It was an incredibly flawed, come-from-behind victory that introduced Charlo to new trainer Derrick James, architect of IBF welterweight champion and pound-for-pound warrior Errol Spence. Since this pairing (and multiple rounds of sparring with ESP), Charlo appears to be a much more finely tuned and destructive fighter highly efficient aggression. But when I caught up with Lubin (18-0, 13KOs) at Gleasons Gym on Wednesday, he himself appeared to be a sharp and lubed up machine ready for the biggest fight of his life.
Prediction: CHARLO KO 9
I think Derrick James is perhaps the most underrated trainer in all of boxing. I know Hatley is more of a B-fighter, but I saw a B+ fighter in Jermell with more technical variety and physical presence against Hatley. That difference in prime “grown man” physicality should enable the Texan to overcome and overwhelm the talented southpaw product from Orlando, via 9th round stoppage in a thriller.