With the rise of influencer boxing, many are finding that social media stars are walking away with huge paydays, despite their lack of athleticism and boxing technique. While it’s easy to get jealous of the large sums of money made by those without talent, savvy boxing pros are trying to take a page out of the books of these content creators.
One boxer in particular, Erickson “Hammer” Lubin, is a rising star in the boxing world. Currently 24-1 with 17 KOs, Lubin has been able to dominate inside the ring but sees opportunities outside of the sport to raise his profile. Ahead of his upcoming fight with Sebastian Fundora this weekend, Lubin has a lot to say about his professional boxing journey and his plans to draw attention to what he does outside the ring via social media.
Frederick Dasoz: I watched your Showtime series on HBO, and one of the things that struck me was the scene where your mother was attacked by robbers breaking into your house. Then, shortly after the attack, she left. While you were still at the beginning of your career, you were in the middle of training when you heard this. How did that affect your future, knowing that if a loved one of yours was attacked while you were working out? Has that psychologically changed the way you approach your boxing career?
Erickson “Hammer” Lubin: I was young when it happened. My mother moved from Florida to New York. She’s done it a few times. Because I was so young, I didn’t understand why she left and came back. Still, I was in love with boxing. I was so in love with boxing, and my dad took care of me and usually helped me go to tournaments. Other times I’ll be alone as a kid, asking for donations outside and building up some money because my trainer is funding the rest. All I ever knew was boxing. As a child I kept my mind on boxing.
daso: Building on that, you would start fighting, both as an amateur, and turn professional shortly after. I want to know, how were your first few professional fights? Was there a big change in the difficulty, pace and skill of your competitors? Have those changes affected the way you approach combat?
Lubin: The pace was different. The pace was different because I was in the amateurs on the USA Team. I was number one. I was the number one hoping for a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics. At every tournament I went to, I was simply the best. Every time I fight someone from Cuba or Brazil, who comes in at number two or three. It wasn’t easy, but I came out on top anyway. That’s what had my stash so high as a pro. Shortly after, Mike Tyson came to pick me up. I had that kind of buzz, but boxing in the US made a big stink about it because they wanted me to represent them in the Olympics. Mike Tyson, on the other hand, offered me some money. I couldn’t deny it. I took that deal instead.
Once you’re professional, you can’t go back to the amateur system. The competition I had in the beginning was not easy. I wanted to be challenged. I wanted the fast track to reach that title very soon.
daso: You’ve put yourself on the fast track. And that fast track led Jermell Charlo. When you fought and lost with him, what was that moment like for you? How did that make you completely overhaul your boxing career? How did you move the people around you to take yourself to the next level where you can beat him and other contenders?
Lubin: When I took that loss, it was heartbreaking. I woke up the next morning, hoping it was a nightmare, but it made me much hungrier, and it made me want to go back to the drawing board and try to figure out what I was doing wrong. I had five weeks for that camp. Usually when I fight now I go camping for about 8, 9 or 10 weeks. I just wanted to do it so fast. I was in a rush and wasn’t quite prepared. Mentally I was, but physically I was not too prepared because I had lost a lot of weight.
I don’t want to apologize either. I had a broken hand and I was only allowed to spar on the right two weeks before. I had fought myself, but it was a lesson to be learned. I regrouped. I have a new trainer. I kept my old trainer with me as an assistant. I added to rebuild myself and my brand, and I’m here now. The most important thing to me is how I came back from adversity.
daso: You don’t define a loss. It’s how you react to it. It’s really interesting because when I was watching the Showtime series, there was a section where they interviewed Coach Cunningham. He said the team you had then put you on this fast track. He said they “didn’t get it right,” or something to that extent, like you took the fight with Charlo too quickly.
Lubin: With boxers, it’s usually management that they tend to criticize, and of course they say, ‘It’s my team that got me into a fight too early.’ I didn’t feel it was too early for me and my competitive nature. But looking back now, I feel like maybe it was and I didn’t prepare myself properly. Still, it was all an instructive lesson that made me better.
daso: I get it. One of the main things I’ve always wondered about, like boxers today, especially in this new era of influencer boxing, you have a lot of young but not talented individuals entering the ring, but they make really big bags because they do it have an audience around. For someone like you who has the talent but is starting to grow your audience, how does social media play a part in your strategy for marketing yourself to these bigger fights than just proving it in the ring? How do you make social media part of your strategy to put yourself in the argument, or ‘in the mix’, as you like to say?
Lubin: Going out and getting things done on Fight Night is a core part. But it’s also important that after the fight I show the world how I live daily when the buzz is still warm. I’ll probably go on vacation after an argument, but I want to document things more and give my audience what they want to see. I feel like I didn’t do that much before.
daso: The last question for you is your upcoming fight with Sebastian Fundora. From what I read online, he is a very tall man. He has your reach on you. How do you plan to dismantle him and put yourself in the argument for the next upcoming title fight?
Lubin: Well, I had a fight. Now he’s trying to put himself in that too. I’m number one in the weight class, but I feel like all these fights are important because he’s one of the guys coming up right now. He’s really hungry, but I’m still hungry. Just because he is so tall, everyone is fascinated by his height. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. But I know him from my time as an amateur boxer. His father took me to a few tournaments. I won a few national tournaments with his father. He hasn’t been on that podium yet because he’s a bit younger than me, but seeing where he is now is good for him. Yet he takes a step too early by looking at me.
He steps into the ring with someone higher than him.