The Hauser Report: The Barclays Buzz

The first fight card at Barclays Center was contested on October 20, 2012, and featured four world title fights: Danny Garcia vs. Erik Morales, Paulie Malignaggi vs. Pablo Cesar Cano, Devon Alexander vs. Randall Bailey, and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam vs. Peter Quillin. For good measure, Danny Jacobs, Luis Collazo, Dmitriy Salita, Eddie Gomez, and Boyd Melson were on the undercard.

Barclays is still waiting for The Big One, the megafight that will raise its profile in boxing to a new level. But it has established a pretty good boxing franchise with a nice buzz on fight nights.

October 14 marked the twenty-fifth fight card at Barclays Center over the past five years. Most of these cards have involved Al Haymon fighters with DiBella Entertainment as the promoter of record. That was the formula this past Saturday night, when three 154-pound titles were at stake.

The first of these bouts was Jarrett Hurd (20-0, 14 KOs) vs. Austin Trout (30-3, 17 KOs).

Hurd, age 27, seized the vacant IBF 154-pound throne when he knocked out Tony Harrison earlier this year.

Trout, now 32, held the WBA 154-pound title several years ago but lost it by decision to Canelo Alvarez. His other defeats, also by decision, were to Erislandy Lara and Jermall Charlo (Jermell’s twin brother). His signature victory was a 2012 decision over Miguel Cotto.

“Everybody knows that he’s the undefeated champion for reasons,” Trout said of Hurd during an October 4 media conference call. “So you can’t smack on a kid like that. But we see holes in his game. It’s just going to end up being me and him and we have to punch through those holes.”

“I’ve accomplished something that all fighters dream of and that’s to win a world title,” Hurd responded. “And I don’t feel like this is where my legacy ends. This is only the beginning.”

Hurd was a 5–to-2 betting favorite.

Erislandy Lara (24-2, 14 KOs) vs. Terrell Gausha (20-0, 9 KOs) was also on the card.

Lara, age 34, is a former Cuban amateur star who worked his way through a series of “interim” titles and vacancies to claim the WBA 154-pound belt. There are some recognizable names on the victory side of his ring ledger but no big ones. His losses were by decision to Paul Williams and Canelo Alvarez.

Gausha, age 30, has been carefully matched throughout his career and had never faced a quality opponent as a pro. Lara was a 15-to-1 betting favorite.

Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) vs. Erickson Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs) was the third title bout on the card and the one that intrigued fight fans the most.

Like Hurd and Lara, the 27-year-old Charlo became a 154-pound beltholder by virtue of a vacancy when he defeated John Jackson for the WBC’s empty chair. Lubin, 22, is considered a prospect with a bright future in boxing. The question was whether the future is now.

Lubin was a mandatory challenger, which didn’t sit well with Charlo.

“I didn’t win my first world title until I was 26,” Jermell told Keith Idec. “So how the f*** is this kid getting an opportunity like this? It’s been rough on my mind. I’m thinking, ‘Hey, why is this mother****** fighting me?’ I feel like it should have been more of a tournament mode to get a chance to fight me. If you don’t have a name, you shouldn’t even be in the ring with me.”

Lubin responded in multiple forums:

*           “He’s a fool if he thinks I’m not ready for this type of fight. I’m better than anyone he has ever faced, and I’m gonna show that October 14th. This is the fight that’s gonna make me into a superstar and this is the fight that’s gonna break him. Some might say I haven’t been challenged yet, or some might say I’ve fought nobodies. But realistically, I just make them look like nobodies. I wouldn’t be surprised if I do the same on October 14th.”

*           “I know I’m ready, I came into this game and I fought no opponents with a losing record. Everybody I fought had a positive record. Some undefeated guys, some guys who had just one loss. I won pretty much every amateur tournament out there. I’ve been undefeated since I was 13 years old. I’m glad they put this opponent in front of me, where I can showcase my talent.”

*           “I’m ready to change the lives of the people around me. I’m ready to change the lives of my parents. My son was born in July, and I just want to make sure he’s set for life; for school, for college, for everything. I’ll get a house at just 22 years old, get the cars that I always wanted that I never had. I’m definitely gonna keep my circle tight and keep the people I’ve got around me. But it’s gonna change my life for good.”

*           “It’s not about what he does. It’s about what I do. I believe in my skill. I’m very talented. I think I’m a star already. Everybody loves me.”

For all intents and purposes, Charlo-Lubin was the main event.

“That’s how I look at it,” Lou DiBella said. “And that’s how I’m promoting it. Showtime dictates the order of the fights it televises, so Lara-Gausha will go on last. But Charlo-Lubin is the fight that everybody wants to see.”

Charlo was a slight 6-to-5 betting favorite.

At the final pre-fight press conference, five of the six title-bout contestants thanked God and Al Haymon. Erislandy Lara just thanked Haymon.

All six fighters made weight.

The announced attendance on fight night was 7,643.

As is often the case at Barclays Center fights, the smell of weed wafted through the arena. That gave rise to the suggestion that the Barclays buzz is, at least in part, about being buzzed.

Hurd-Trout was a very good fight. This writer’s notes, taken as the action unfolded, read as follows:

Round 1 – Hurd the aggressor. Trout counterpunching. although he’s more effective when he gets off first.

Round 2 – Trout taking Hurd to school.

Round 3 – Spirited action. Both guys getting hit. Trout seems to be slowing down a bit.

Round 4 – Constant pressure from Hurd. But he doesn’t move his head enough. Too often, after Hurd punches, he waits for a receipt. So Trout hits him.

Round 5 – Hurd keeps coming forward, trying to break Trout. He’s forcing the fight and willing to trade at all times.

Round 6 – Trout’s punches have lost their snap. Hurd forcing a slugfest. Both guys landing cleanly, but Trout seems to be getting hurt more.

Round 7 – Hurd badly cut over the left eye by an accidental head butt, but still teeing off. A good action fight. More and more, Trout is throwing stay-away-from-me punches. Hurd is throwing to do damage.

 

Round 8 – Trout is game but he’s getting clobbered. Hurd is stronger and hits harder. When Trout lands, Hurd just keeps coming forward.

Round 9 – Hurd comes out for every round applying non-stop pressure and looking to exchange. Trout has very little left. His right eye is closing. This is the worst beating he has taken as a pro.

Round 10 – A methodical beatdown. Hurd is showing no respect for Trout’s power, maybe because there’s none left. Hurd shaking Trout with power punches. [Referee] Eddie Claudio should think about stopping the fight.

In the corner after round ten, Louie Burke (Trout’s trainer) appropriately told ring doctor Nitin Sethi that he wanted the bout stopped.

Charlo-Lubin was up next. Most of the first round was a feeling-out process with little action. Two minutes into the stanza, Lubin ducked low and Charlo stung him with a chopping right hand. Thirty seconds later. . . BOOM !

Lubin ducked low again, and Charlo fired a twisting right uppercut that landed flush on Erickson’s cheek. Lubin went down hard, his arms and legs unnaturally twisted, shaking spasmodically. At the count of six, referee Harvey Dock stopped the fight. Astonishingly, Erickson somehow made it to his feet before ten seconds elapsed. But the bout was already over.

“I’m fine,“ Lubin said afterward: “He caught me with a blind shot. I didn’t see it coming. It’s boxing; it happens.”

The crowd thinned out after Charlo-Lubin and continued to do so as the final fight of the evening – Lara vs. Gausha – unfolded. Lara boxed his way to an uninspiring 117-110, 117-110, 116-111 win in what was essentially a walk-out bout.

As for what happens next; Charlo was adamant in demanding, “Give me another title. I want Hurd. Hurd just won. Give me Hurd.”

Charlo-Hurd would be an interesting fight. I’ll take Charlo.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His next book – There Will Always Be Boxing  – will be published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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