Erickson Lubin just punched his ticket, quite literally, to the front of the line of junior middleweight title contention on Saturday in a sixth-round knockout of former unified champion Jeison Rosario.
The all-action bout, a 154-pound title eliminator, served as the co-main event of a Showtime PPV, presented by Premier Boxing Champions, from State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Lubin (24-1, 17 KOs) won his sixth straight fight since his lone defeat, a first-round knockout against current unified champion Jermell Charlo in 2017. A rematch between the two could be next for Lubin, especially if Charlo defeats Brian Castano on July 17 in their four-belt title bout to declare an undisputed champion.
"I want the title fight. I want everybody at 154 pounds. I don't duck nobody and I don't want no tune-up fights," Lubin said. "I want the best guys in the division and I want to be able to say I beat everyone in the division when I am champion."
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news.
A 25-year-old southpaw from Orlando, Florida, Lubin showed grit in surviving this see-saw battle against a dangerous and equally vulnerable puncher in Rosario (20-3-1, 14 KOs), who was knocked out via body shot to lose his titles against Charlo last fall in their unification bout. Lubin shook off being hurt in Round 4 to finish Rosario with a similar body attack just two rounds later.
Lubin floored Rosario with a two-punch combination to the body that left the native of the Dominican Republic visibly hurt. Lubin quickly cornered Rosario and dropped him a second time with a three-punch combination, including a final shot that appeared to land after Rosario fell to a knee.
Rosario, 26, failed to beat the count by referee Jerry Cantu as the fight was called at 1:42 of Round 6. Lubin led on all three scorecards (48-47, 49-46, 48-47) at the time of the stoppage.
"I just followed the gameplan," Lubin said. "I went to the corner every round and coach [Kevin] Cunningham and my team told me to stick to the jab. I'm way faster than him but I knew he had good power and was trying to counter me.
"I saw I started hurting him to the body because I saw him run so I know I had to keep going to the body. [Cunningham] is a Hall-of-Fame trainer, Kevin is a great trainer. He told me to not get too crazy when we got him hurt and that's what we did. We took our time."
Lubin grabbed control of the fight in Round 3 when he began to walk down Rosario and twice appeared to badly hurt him in a round that could have easily been scored 10-8. But a counter jab from Rosario in Round 4 shook up Lubin and brought the crowd to its feet in a major momentum shift that left Lubin vulnerable.
To his credit, Lubin worked behind his high guard and never imploded. He controlled range with his jab and left hands to the body as he began to use Rosario's aggressiveness against him.
"I set him up with the jab and went downstairs," Lubin said. "I saw him hold his body like that and I knew he was hurt. I know I'm a great finisher and I knew I was going to get him out of there."
Lubin outlanded Rosario by a margin of 80 to 49, according to CompuBox.