Jermall Charlo’s next defense of the WBC middleweight crown was scheduled for June 18 against Maciej Sulecki in a homecoming fight in Houston on Showtime Championship Boxing - but earlier this week the fight was officially postponed due to Charlo suffering a back injury in camp.
The former super welterweight champion Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) has campaigned at 160 pounds since 2017, and moving up to 168 pounds for the right fight appears to be imminent for the 32-year-old.
A trio of big-name foes made up of undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez and former titlists David Benavidez and Caleb Plant will be willing foes once Charlo decides to tack on eight more pounds to his official fighting weight.
“It makes me want to whoop their ass, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” Charlo told FightHype.com’s Sean Zittel in an interview. “It’s a big fight for Canelo. He can’t overlook it. He can’t just say it’s nothing going on for. It’s a big fight for Canelo. Him fighting me, the world wants to see it. I’m down to see it or I’ll have to blow my chances fighting David Benavidez. He ain’t nothing either. I would be the biggest fight for him too.
“I’m the biggest fight for any boxer out right now. I’m one of the biggest boxers out there. It would make any fight better. Why not go ahead and take the real risk and fight Canelo where I could put it all on the line rather than fighting David Benavidez, who has nothing to offer. I’d still fight his ass and use him as a stepping stone to get to Canelo if that’s what they want me to do, but they’re not setting that up.
“If I could challenge myself against somebody like Canelo, no matter what, I go down in history. He knows that’s going to be a way tougher fight than he thinks it is.”
Charlo finds himself in a precarious position.
His five-year run at 160 pounds has not included any legacy-defining fights. His wins have come against the likes of Hugo Centeno Jr., Matvey Korobov, Brandon Adams, Dennis Hogan, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and Juan Macias Montiel.
Charlo’s wins at 154 pounds during his title run against Austin Trout and Julian Williams have been much better.
Should Charlo eventually campaign at 168 pounds, fights against the division’s best will be required in order to join his twin brother and undisputed super welterweight champion Jermell atop the sport’s pound-for-pound list.
“I’m not necessarily worried about what they say and what they think,” said Charlo. ”They’re going to have to see me one day. So if Plant wants that, let’s get it. “I mean, sh!t, why not? Come on, Plant. None of these fighters pose a threat to me. As long as Jermall Charlo stays on the top of his game, there’s nobody that can stop me.
“If I go up to 168, [Plant is] just going to be a stepping stone to fight Canelo or somebody. They might as well just give me Canelo. It’s all about the handlers now, social media. The fans do not call the fights anymore. Obviously, the fans aren’t picking the fights. The big fights are coming through rankings, belts, and all kinds of other things.
“This is the new-school era. They know Jake Paul before they know Benavidez. This is the era of boxing that we live in now. It’s not about the best fighting the best. It’s about the most popular being the most popular.
“[Logan Paul] got a chance to fight Floyd Mayweather before someone that was supposed to fight him. So it’s a different era of boxing now and I like it. I’m not mad at it. They got to wait their turn at this point.
“Now they want me to go to 168. Now they’re talking about me going to 175. I guess it’s part of boxing. It’s a new era right now. Weight divisions stopped mattering when Floyd Mayweather and Canelo fought at 154.
“After that, Canelo said, ‘You’re going to fight me at the weight that I want to fight at. So weights don’t really matter. You’ve got little guys fighting big guys, big guys fighting little guys.
“If I got to go up, I’m down to go up. That’s the biggest middleweight in the world. So that’s how they’re going to look at me. When my brother is ready to come to 160, I’m going to get out of his way.
“He’s going to get all the other belts at 160, and then we’re going to make history again, and again and again.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.