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You’d be correct to say that Premier Boxing Champions currently has a lockdown on almost the entire junior middleweight division. 

Along with a deep roster that includes the likes of secondary titleholder Erislandy Lara and former champions Jarrett Hurd, Julian “J-Rock” Williams and Tony Harrison, the PBC houses the two men who currently hold three of the four recognized titles in Jermell Charlo (WBC) and Jeison Rosario (WBC, WBA). Current WBO titleholder Patrick Teixeira remains just about the only name on the outside looking in. 

Not only are Charlo and Rosario set to mix it up during one of two pay-per-view main events Showtime will broadcast on Sept. 26 for control of the division, the network features a bout nearly as important one week earlier for a mandatory shot at the WBC title at stake. 

One of the division’s rising stars, Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs) will face 154-pound veteran and former U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) on Saturday in a pivotal bout in terms of title position as the main event of a PBC card (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET) from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. 

Fresh off a wide decision win over Nathaniel Gallimore last October that marked four straight wins since his 2017 loss to Charlo, the 24-year-old Lubin has entered a new level of confidence and poise but inside and out of the ring. 

“I feel like [the division], it’s still up for grabs and I’m back to where I was in 2017, when I was younger and less experienced,” Lubin told CBS Sports’ “State of Combat” podcast this week. “I’m back and better so I’m looking to take over this division. I already started off with the main event I had last time against Gallimore. I had an impressive performance. I’m looking to do the same thing and have a spectacular victory. Then I have the mandatory spot and we get one of the champions out of Charlo and Rosario for all of the belts.

“I’m excited and fired up. I can’t wait.”

While Lubin is open to facing either Rosario or Charlo should he advance past Gausha, he couldn’t help but admit he would love to get a second chance at the current WBC champion. Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs), who regained his title in December by stopping Tony Harrison, needed one right hand and less than one round to finish Lubin in a fight that proved to be a turning point for the young fighter.

“That helped me realize a lot inside and outside the ring,” Lubin said. “I was able to just go back to the drawing board. I ain’t had my head held down for too long. I know my skill set and I believe in myself. My confidence is at an all-time high. I just bounced back. I got with Kevin Cunningham. He helped me bounce back in a tremendous way. He brought my IQ game to another level. Being with him, I just leveled up 100 times more.”

Respect box? Subscribe to our podcast — State of Combat with Brian Campbell — where we take an in-depth look at the world of boxing each week, including a complete preview of Showtime Boxing this weekend with Rafe Bartholomew below.

Cunningham is a trainer noted just as much for his demanding approach as for his success with southpaws like former champions Cory Spinks, Devon Alexander and David Diaz. He has served an even bigger role than that for Lubin as not just teacher and mentor, but a managerial type figure when it comes to which fights to accept. 

Lubin took on what’s expected to be a difficult challenge in the 33-year-old Gausha, who can box and punch despite having come up short in his two biggest fights to date — a 2017 decision loss to Lara for the WBA title and a disputed split draw against Austin Trout last year. 

“Training camp has obviously been a little different ahead of this fight but we’ve done what we need to and I’ll be ready,” Gausha said. “This is a big fight for me, being my second chance at getting to a world title. I know Lubin is a young, good fighter and I’m sure he’ll also be ready. But this is my fourth southpaw in a row, so I’m very prepared for this fight and I’m going to show that I’m on another level.”

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, who fought on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, Gausha now fights out of Encino, California, under head trainer Manny Robles. He was originally scheduled to fight Lubin last October until a hand injury forced him to pull out, which allowed Gallimore to slide in for what became Lubin’s Showtime closeup. 

“We know [Gausha] is an Olympian and he has the experience under his belt but I have the same kind of experience and maybe even more,” Lubin said. “I expect to go out there and just capitalize on everything he comes out there with. If he want to come out and box or if he want to bang, it don’t matter. I’m not overlooking Terrell Gausha. I’m going to go over there, take care of business, win the title and just keep defending it. I’m going to make my mark in the division and just take over.”

Lubin believes Gausha was able to land shots against an aging Trout that he won’t have the same opportunity to against him. He also has no regrets for the decision he made back in 2013 when, as an 18-year-old, Lubin chose against the Olympic road in favor of turning pro for then-promoter Mike Tyson. 

When it comes to the 154-pound division, Lubin believes all of the talk will soon center around not simply its overall depth but the fact that he has separated himself as the face. 

“[Critics] bring up my name when they talk about the division being loaded, I just feel like they hype up the other dudes a little bit more,” Lubin said. “It’s my job to go out there and let them know which man they should be talking about. They should be talking about me. Charlo and Rosario are champions but all these other dudes, I feel like they became champion once and couldn’t defend the belts successfully. To me, that’s not true champion status. I feel like once I get the belts, I am going to keep them. 

“What separates me is I’m the youngest yet I can compete with any of them. I can beat anyone of those guys. I’m hungry and Showtime is backing me and it’s exciting. I just can’t wait to get those title fights and those pay-per-view fights. I’m definitely looking to take full advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”

This card also features a pair of rising stars in their divisions looking to make a name for themselves in this showcase opportunity. Tugstsogt Nyambayar, a brawler from Mongolia, takes on Cobia Breedy in the co-main event at featherweight. “King Tug” lost his first professional bout his last time out to WBC champ Gary Russell Jr. in February. But Nyambayar brings his high knockout rate (9 of 11 wins by TKO) to the ring against Breedy, who is 15-0 with 5 TKOs but is yet to step up in competition. 

Plus, Jaron “Boots” Ennis is back when he takes on Juan Carlos Abreu at welterweight. Ennis is an undefeated, 23-year-old prospect looking to get into the crowded title picture at welterweight. He has yet to be truly tested at this stage in his career, but still boasts a 25-0 record with 23 knockouts to his name. Abreu (23-5) has plenty of KOs to his name, but he did lose twice in 2018 to tougher competition.

Viewing information

  • Date: Saturday, Sept. 19 | Location: Mohegan Sun — Uncasville, Connecticut
  • Start time: 9 p.m. ET (Main card) 
  • How to watch: Showtime 

Fight card, odds

  • Erickson Lubin -650 vs. Terrell Gausha +475, junior middleweights
  • Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs. Cobia Breedy, featherweights
  • Jaron Ennis vs. Juan Carlos Abreu, welterweights

Prediction

Gausha is at his best when he’s in control of the pace and able to rely on his timing and technique to counter. The problem is that he doesn’t let his hands go enough in competitive fights where activity might prove to be the difference in close rounds. 

As long as Lubin can avoid getting caught in those patterns, he remains the rightful betting favorite. With advantages in speed and power, Lubin will need to be explosive enough early to prevent Gausha from finding room to let his hands go.

Gausha is durable and savvy enough to likely go the distance in this fight, even in defeat. Lubin will need to get off consistently with his jab, which he showcased almost exclusively in a beautiful performance outboxing a durable Gallimore, to be able to set up his heavy counter shots including a sneaky uppercut. 

Was his one-punch knockout loss to Charlo an early referendum on Lubin’s chin when facing elite punchers or just a bad night at the office for a young fighter? Either way, Gausha likely isn’t the type of fighter who will be a major danger in exposing that. 

A victory by outboxing such a talented technician in Gausha would be a major announcement toward his future title hopes against the winner of Charlo-Rosario. But a less likely stoppage would elevate that announcement into something more like a threat. 

Pick: Lubin via UD



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NZ vs WI 2020-21, 1st Test

At the end of a 15-wicket day in Hamilton, New Zealand are all but sure of taking a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series. Tim Southee started the carnage, sending back John Campbell on his way to returns of 4 for 35 in the first West Indies innings, as the visitors went from 53 for no loss to 138 all out, before following on and ending the third day on 196 for 6, still 185 behind. And for Southee, the difference was that New Zealand “knew where we had to be for longer periods of time”.

Campbell and Kraigg Brathwaite had taken West Indies to a safe 49 for no loss in reply to New Zealand’s 519 for 7 declared when play ended on the second day, but more swing with the older ball and the westerly breeze at Seddon Park, Southee said, had an effect.

“It was nice, this is one of the few grounds that favours the outswing. But we assessed through it last night and we weren’t far off,” he said in a press interaction. “We knew where we had to be for longer periods of time, and managed to get a couple early and get the ball rolling.”

While Southee has so far picked up five wickets, Neil Wagner (four) and Kyle Jamieson (three) have been among the wickets too, and the towering Jamieson, who also scored an unbeaten 51 earlier, came in for special praise from Southee.

“He’s been a great addition at the back end of last summer, and he’s shown again here with both bat and ball,” Southee said of Jamieson, who made his Test debut against India last summer as a replacement for Lockie Ferguson, and has played in all three of New Zealand’s Tests since. “So he’s been a great asset to the side and adds another variation as well. Obviously you’ve got myself and Trent [Boult], left- and right-arm to swing it. Wags [Wagner] does his thing and then you’ve got a tall guy in him [Jamieson], who hits some challenging areas.”

Southee is currently on 289 Test wickets, and though he is focused on winning the Test, and the series, against West Indies, he said he was aware of the 300-wicket milestone.

“[You] probably don’t chase [such milestones],” he said. “It’s something that when you play for long enough, those things happen. But yeah, it’ll be something special if I can get there.

“At the moment, it’s about coming back tomorrow and taking the remaining wickets. It’s just nice to contribute… and it’ll be a lot of hard work between now and then.”

In what has been a dominant performance by Kane Williamson’s team, a few fielding lapses have hrt them. Both unbeaten batsmen, Jermaine Blackwood and Alzarri Joseph, were dropped one each, and Jason Holder had been reprieved twice, in two balls.

“We aren’t disappointed, we would have taken this position going into this morning,” he said. “Anytime you have a side follow on, you know you’ve obviously played pretty well at some stage. So although we weren’t quite at our best in the last hour, you’ve got to give a little bit of credit to Joseph and Blackwood – the way they took an attacking approach to it and had a little bit of luck along the way.

“But they played positive cricket and we were a little bit off in that last session as well. So [we need to] restart and have another go tomorrow.”

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Errol Spence Jr. vs. Danny Garcia: Fight prediction, undercard, odds, expert picks, date

spence garcia staredown

It seems the only person associated with the welterweight title bout on Saturday who isn’t pondering whether unified champion Errol Spence Jr. will still be the same some 14 months removed from a scary car accident is his opponent. 

Danny Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs), a former two-division champion, is very much expecting to see the best of Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) when the two face off inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (Fox PPV, 9 p.m. ET). Instead, he has spent his time figuring out how to beat Spence and believes there was something to learn from his opponent’s last outing.

Just two weeks before he rolled his Ferrari and was thrown from the vehicle while driving drunk at high speeds in Dallas, the 30-year-old Spence unified his IBF title with Shawn Porter’s WBC belt in a thrilling split-decision win that contended for fight of the year honors. The fight was action packed throughout and Garcia believes that Porter ultimately exposed flaws in Spence’s game.

“[Spence] was getting hit a lot and his defense [was exposed],” Garcia told “Morning Kombat” last week. [Porter] forced him into a tough fight. 

“I have a different style than [Porter] but I’m also more dangerous than him. He has that awkward timing and rushes you and tries to throw you off your game but I’m more of a dangerous fighter with better counter punching and better skills.”

Garcia, 32, has only lost twice as a professional and both have been disputed decisions against Keith Thurman in 2017 and the following year against Porter. Garcia proved able to discipline Thurman over the second half of their unification bout by using his power to lower his opponent’s output, which is something he proved unable to do against Porter, whose jerky-jerky style gave the flat-footed Garcia fits. 

Still, Garcia believes his one-punch knockout power — something Porter hasn’t shown — will be the difference against Spence. And when you are talking about Garcia’s power, the conversation typically centers around his finishing blow — the “no look” left hook that’s set up beautifully by a right hand to the body before the finishing punch comes looping through.

“No one can take the no look left hook because you can’t take what you don’t see,” Garcia said. 

Although Spence knows full well the threat Garcia brings to the table, he was anything but shaken when the topic of the “no look” left hook was presented to him on “Morning Kombat” last week.

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, including a complete preview and prediction for Spence vs. Garcia this weekend.

“Of course you have respect for a punch but I don’t react to it,” Spence said. “It is what it is. You can throw it all you want but you have to land it. We will see. He’s coming in to win and it just makes me train harder and stay focused.”

Spence also confidently revealed that the Porter was only as close as it was because he allowed it to be while hoping to make a statement. 

“Basically, I already knew [it would be close]. My game plan was to come forward and fight him and it was going to be what it was going to be,” Spence said “I already knew that was his game plan, but it was mine too. My coach wanted me to box but I wanted to fight and that’s what happened.”

Garcia wouldn’t budge when asked to commit to whether they felt this weekend’s bout would be more of a boxing match or slugfest. He said it came down to the type of adjustments both make and that he’s ready for either result. 

Spence, on the other hand, expects the bout’s identity to change as the rounds progress.

“It might start out with us feeling each other out but later on when we both get warmed up it’s going to be an all-out fight,” Spence said. “I expect a great fight with back and forth action and him bringing his all. I expect him trying to win. 

“I want this to be one-sided, either a massacre or an easy win.”

Fight card, odds

Odds via William Hill Sportsbook

Errol Spence Jr. (c) -450

Danny Garcia +350

Unified welterweight titles

Sebastian Fundora -1100

Habib Ahmed +700

Super welterweights

Josesito Lopez -330

Francisco Santana +260

Welterweights

Eduardo Ramirez -440Miguel Flores +340Featherweights

Prediction 

If Spence proves to be compromised, either physically or mentally, from the fallout of his life-threatening accident, Garcia is all kinds of wrong for him as a poised and patient counter puncher with fight-ending power and enough technical prowess to adjust. 

But what about if Spence is still Spence? What happens then?

The bad news for Garcia is that everything he does well, Spence can do just as good or better. Not to mention that Spence also has a great chin and willingness to walk through fire in order to win a fight. 

When Spence chooses to box from the outside, like he did against Mikey Garcia is yet another fight in which he was dead set on proving a point, he did so with ease given his length, speed and elite fight IQ. And it lends credence to the idea that should he have to do the same against Danny Garcia he could, even though Spence’s love for walking down and finishing fighters got him into quite a duel against Porter. 

Garcia’s Achilles heel has long been his lack of elite foot speed as a heavy puncher who sits down on his power shots. Everyone from Thurman and Porter to Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson have been able to use that to their advantage. Spence should be no different in the early going until he feels comfortable enough to step up his volume and close space. 

The danger with Garcia is that you can never get too comfortable given his power. Yet it’s in that mid-range game where the southpaw Spence does his best work of volume to disarm his opponents with heavy combinations. 

No matter which way the fight goes, Garcia is experienced and tough enough to make sure he never gets dominated and should be stubborn enough to make Spence have to work for everything he earns. But is Garcia dynamic enough to win a fight he isn’t supposed to against someone more talented on paper? The jury remains out on this one. 

Pick: Spence via unanimous decision



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Bangabandhu T20 Cup – Zakir Hasan leads Gemcon Khulna to victory over Fortune Barishal

Gemcon Khulna 173 for 6 (Zakir 63, Imrul 37, Rabbi 3-33) beat Fortune Barishal 125 (Hridoy 33, Tamim 32, Shahidul 2-16) by 48 runs

Scorecard

Gemcon Khulna rose to the second spot on the points table after a 48-run win over Fortune Barishal in Friday’s first game, left-handed opening batsman Zakir Hasan leading the way for them by storming the Barishal attack with ten fours in his 42-ball 63.

Barishal sent Khulna in to bat, and even got an early breakthrough when Jahurul Islam fell for two in the third over. But Zakir, playing his first game since Covid-19 stopped cricket in the country in March, added 90 runs for the second wicket with Imrul Kayes, who made 37 off 34 balls with two fours and a six.

Mahmudullah later struck four boundaries in his 14-ball 24 while Shakib Al Hasan added 14 runs in ten balls, which took Khulna to a competitive 176 for 5. Paceman Kamrul Islam Rabbi took three wickets while Taskin Ahmed took two wickets for Barishal.

Barishal started well with a 57-run opening stand between captain Tamim Iqbal and Parvez Hossain Emon. Tamim hit four fours and a six in his 32 off 21 balls, while Emon took a bit of time, scoring 19 off 26 balls with just one six.

Still, all wickets in hand must have given them confidence, but in the eighth over, Shuvagata Hom removed both openers. Only Towhid Hridoy made 33 among the rest of the batsmen as Barishal crumbled against Khulna’s big total. Hasan Mahmud also took two wickets later in the innings.

Gazi Group Chattogram currently lead the table with eight points, while Khulna have six points. Barishal are one off the bottom but only on net run-rate, as they are tied on two points with Beximco Dhaka.

More to follow…

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