NEW YORK -- Junior middleweight Erickson Lubin has been on the fast track to a world title fight since he signed a pro contract on his 18th birthday in 2013 and had his first bout a month later. Now he will get one.
Lubin, the 2016 ESPN.com prospect of the year, earned a title opportunity by dominating and knocking out Jorge Cota in the fourth round on the undercard of the Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia welterweight world title unification fight on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The fight was an official elimination bout, and Lubin will be due a mandatory shot at the winner of the fight between titleholder Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) and Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs), whose March 11 bout was postponed because of an injury to main event fighter Oscar Escandon.
Lubin, a 21-year-old southpaw from Orlando, Florida, took control of the fight at the outset and never allowed the much slower Cota to get into the fight. Lubin cruised through the first two rounds and then turned up the heat in the third round as he blasted Cota, 29, of Mexico, with powerful shots from both hands.
Cota, fighting for the first time since August 2015, had won nine fights in row coming in but that streak ended in violent fashion in the fourth round. That is when "Hammer" Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs) unleashed an overhand left than nailed Cota (25-2, 22 KOs) on the chin and he went down. He struggled to his feet but was unsteady and in no position to continue, and referee Earl Brown waved off the fight at 1 minute, 25 seconds, sending Lubin into a celebration.
"I baited him with the jab. I knew he was going to come with the big shots early," Lubin said. "I put a few tricks on him. I landed that overhand right and it was night-night. I put my hands down to bait him in. I did a squat and then it was night-night. I was ready to follow up with a right but he was already out. It was my first [scheduled] 12-rounder. He's a veteran. He's tough and he's smart."
If Lubin gets the title shot before the end of the year and wins he would become the youngest active world titleholder in boxing. Junior lightweight titlist Gervonta Davis, 22, is currently the youngest world titleholder.
Fonfara stops Dawson in 10th round
Light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara bounced back from a bad loss and probably ended the career of former world champion Chad Dawson, at least in terms of meaningful fights.
Fonfara (29-4, 17 KOs) dropped Dawson (34-5, 19 KOs) in the ninth round and stopped him in the 10th round of a give-and-take fight.
"I heard the scores were not in my favor. Right now I can't say whether or not I agree with them. I thought I was winning the fight, but I'd have to go back and watch closer," Fonfara said. "Chad Dawson has had a great career and gotten some huge wins. That definitely helped him tonight, but he didn't do anything to surprise me and he never hurt me."
Fonfara, 29, a Poland native fighting out of Chicago, might have been on his way to a rematch with world champion Adonis Stevenson last year but took a stay-busy fight in June and got knocked out in the first round by Joe Smith Jr. in a tremendous upset. But he shook that loss off in his first fight under the guidance of trainer Virgil Hunter as he handed Dawson, 34, of New Haven, Connecticut, a rough loss.
Fonfara, who made Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. quit on his stool after the ninth round of their 2015 fight and also outpointed former titlist Nathan Cleverly in an action-packed brawl later that year, had no problem landing his shots on Dawson. But Dawson, a southpaw, also got in some nice right hooks. However, in the ninth round, Fonfara clipped Dawson with a left hand on the top of the head as he bent over and Dawson went down.
"I hit him with a left hook to the side of the head. Once I hit him with that, I knew that I had him hurt," Fonfara said. "I hope that this will put me in a position to either fight Adonis Stevenson or Joe Smith again. I think that both of those fights would be really good rematches for me."
In the 10th round, Fonfara nailed Dawson with a clean right hand that badly staggered him and sent him into the corner, where Fonfara teed off on him with a series of unanswered blows until referee David Fields stepped in and waved off the fight 38 seconds into the final round, although Dawson protested the stoppage.
"I knew I was winning the fight. I didn't agree with the stoppage," Dawson said. "He was early. The knockdown was a push also but he caught me on my way down. I have nothing to hang my head about. I was comfortable the whole fight. I think I did a lot to confuse him. He didn't expect me to box the way I did. I put on a good performance until the stoppage. I knew I was ahead."
Dawson's career has been in a tailspin since he dropped down to super middleweight to challenge then-champion Andre Ward and got smoked in a one-sided 11th-round knockout loss in 2012. Including that fight, Dawson is 3-4 in his past seven bouts, including a first-round knockout to Stevenson in which he lost his title and this stoppage against Fonfara.
"I think I'm leaning towards retirement," Dawson said. "I've had a good career. I have nothing to be ashamed of."
Junior welterweight Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10 KOs), a native of Kazakhstan fighting out of Los Angeles, knocked out Clarence Booth (14-3, 7 KOs), of St. Petersburg, Florida, in the seventh round. Lipinets dropped Booth with a straight right hand in the seventh round and then teed off on him in a corner until referee Gary Rosado stopped it at 1 minute, 33 seconds.
"I'm the mandatory for the IBF title. I'm going to wait for my shot and from then on we'll just see who is willing to fight us.," Lipinets said. "I'm still developing my style. I want to please the crowd. It's an honor to be on a show like this. I'm not a fluke. Ever since I've fought professionally, I've only fought tough opponents."
Lipinets earned a shot at the 140-pound world title held by Julius Indongo when he knocked out Lenny Zappavigna in the ninth round of their elimination fight in December. However, with Indongo slated for a title unification fight against Ricky Burns on April 15 in Scotland, Lipinets was not going to get the title shot just yet so he was staying busy against Booth.
Brooklyn welterweight Richardson Hitchins (1-0, 1 KO), a 2016 Olympian who represented his parents' home country of Haiti and recently signed with Mayweather Promotions, made his professional debut and knocked out Mexico's Mario Perez (1-1, 0 KOs) in the first round. Hitchins, just 19, wasted no time going at Perez and dropped him with a powerful left hand on the chin abut a minute into the fight. As soon as the right resumed, Hitchins attacked Perez, driving him into the ropes and teeing off on him until the referee stepped in at 1 minute, 33 seconds.
Brooklyn featherweight Heather Hardy (19-0, 4 KOs) cruised to a one-sided decision win against Edina Kiss (13-3, 8 KOs), of Hungary, in the opening fight on the card. She won by shutout on two scorecards, 80-72, and 79-73 on the third card.