Erickson Lubin scored the biggest win of his career to date with a narrow victory over previously-unbeaten fellow southpaw Jesus Ramos.
Despite promising much, it was not a fight for the highlight reel but Lubin had done enough for all three judges, who scored by margins of 115-113, 116-112 and 117-111.
It was an unpopular decision with the crowd, who booed Lubin as he said boxing was about hitting and not getting hit.
In truth, there was very little in it.
“I want the belts,” said an excited and elated Lubin, who won what was billed as a WBC and WBA super-welterweight eliminator. “I stuck to the gameplan, stayed boxing, used my jab and we came away with the victory tonight. I was controlling the fight, I fought at my pace. I want the world title. They called me a gatekeeper, but they need to stop calling me a gatekeeper. I’m one of the top dogs in the division.”
Ramos said he would go back to the drawing board. “I felt like I was trying to show a different dimension to my game but I will take this loss, learn from it and come back from it,” Ramos said.
The man from Arizona looked huge, towering over Lubin, and despite a tentative and explorative opening round, Ramos was trying to bull Lubin into the ropes, although the Orlando man was looking to counter sharply.
Ramos was getting busier in the third, but Lubin timed him with some straight lefts and while Ramos looked threatening he was doing very little.
Lubin operated around the perimeter of the ring, his handspeed had Ramos putting the earmuffs on, keeping things tight defensively. It was close but Ramos was busier.
With Ramos on the front foot and tracking Lubin to the ropes, it seemed like Ramos held the advantage, but while he might have controlled the distance, he wasn’t landing much for his efforts.
The sixth was scrappy and included plenty of clinching, Ramos dropped his hands to encourage Lubin to open up, but Lubin did not accept the offer.
Ramos enjoyed pockets of success in round seven and while not much happened in the eighth, Lubin started to hold his ground from the ninth and was no longer a fixture on the ropes. That might have been what decided the fight for him, even though he was never able to put a dent in the huge Ramos.
The crowd whistled and jeered as the action stagnated in the 11th, but neither – by now – were going to over-commit, or even commit. The dye had been cast. Both celebrated at the end. Whoever won was going to feel like they had done just enough and whoever lost was going to kick themselves for not doing enough.
Lubin’s two defeats came to Jermell Charlo and Sebastian Fundora, but now he is back in line for a significant fight.