At just 19, exciting prospect Erickson "The Hammer" Lubin continues to climb the ladder toward becoming a contender.
Lubin (8-0, 6 KOs), a native of Orlando, Florida, was considered a top prospect to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic team when he decided to turn pro and sign with Mike Tyson's Iron Mike Productions on his 18th birthday in 2013.
Despite the implosion of Tyson's promotional company in recent months, Lubin will press on. He faces Michael Finney (12-1-1, 10 KOs) at a catch weight of 157-pounds as the co-headliner to ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET), after Rodolfo Quintanilla (14-4-3, 11 KOs) -- the original opponent -- failed a medical test on Thursday.
Lubin, a southpaw, got up off the canvas in Round 1 to defeat Norberto Gonzalez last November in his most recent step-up fight. He spoke with ESPN.com this week about his goals entering 2015.
Finney was a late opponent switch for you. How does that affect how you prepare?
My manager and my team picks the opponents, and I respect their decisions. I make sure I stay ready to fight anybody.
You are a well-regarded prospect with a tendency to fight in an exciting manner. Where does that come from?
It's just my work ethic. I have a great team behind me, and I have a couple of fighters on the team that push me: Dennis Galarza, Leo Hall. They keep me motivated, I keep them motivated, and we all just work real hard. I like to please the fans, but also I like to be smart. I like for my opponents to run into big shots. I'm just not going to automatically sit there and trade. You have to hit him and not let him hit you. That's what I try to do most of the time.
How did the implosion of Iron Mike Productions impact you from a promotional sense?
I'm with Al Haymon, but I'm still with the same managers, Garry Jonas and Henry Rivalta. I just added Al Haymon. It's a business, man. It doesn't really affect me. I'm just here to fight and make a name for myself.
What did you take in particular from getting to know Tyson on a personal level?
Mike was a young champion, and he taught me a lot of things. Just being around him was a great thrill. He is still around and is going to still support me. He's not going to be out of the picture completely. He's still going to be supporting and watching me.
Haymon made some big news in recent weeks with the announcement of his new series. What's your reaction regarding how he might impact the sport moving forward?
I'm excited, and hopefully I can headline on one of those shows. It's just motivating to see, and now that I'm part of his stable, it's exciting to hopefully one day be headlining and be on that stage.
You turned pro at age 18 and decided against entering the Olympic program. What went into your decision?
My team and I went over everything. My manager, Henry Rivalta, he had a great deal of experience, and USA boxing wasn't doing what they promised, so we just turned pro.
How hard has it been to make the adjustments through eight pro fights as you slowly step up in class?
I won't say it's easy, but I have prepared myself real well for each situation. I just fought Norberto Gonzalez and Noe Bolanos, and those are two step-up fights that I had. I came out victorious, and I'm going to keep learning from it. I'm still young. I plan on having more fights like that.
You were knocked down in Round 1 by Gonzalez in your last bout before going on to claim a decision victory in a fun fight. How do you feel you reacted to your first taste of legitimate adversity?
It really did motivate me. It didn't affect me, but [the knockdown] motivated me to go out there, fight smart and work hard. It motivated me to stay motivated, stay in shape and eat the right foods. I plan on having more fights like that to go from prospect to contender.
Friday will be your third consecutive bout at junior middleweight. Are you still able to make 147 pounds for the right fight?
I've been on weight for about two weeks now. I'll be going back down to welterweight, probably in a few more fights. But I'm truly comfortable right now at 154. In the long run, I can see myself at 160. I might even go up to 175 or heavyweight, too, and capture those titles.
What kind of statement are you looking to make in this fight?
I plan on making a big statement. I don't think he's going to survive, but if he does, I'm just going to punish him for eight rounds.
How do you classify your fighting style?
I say I'm a boxer-puncher. I know how to reel people in and pull them into big shots.
What do you hope to accomplish in 2015?
I want to go from prospect to contender in 2015. I was a prospect in 2014, and I turned pro in 2013. I want to keep moving up from here and next year in 2016, I hope to become a champion.
What is it going to take for you to make that leap?
I just need to fight quality opponents and make a statement this year.