Jermell Charlo apparently thinks he’s a Hall of Famer.
If the world ends today, he’d be wrong.
Though two title reigns at 154 pounds – including an existing four-belt claim – are noteworthy and commendable and worthy of praise, they’re not quite enough to warrant all-time status.
But if he wins on September 30, that might change.
If the 33-year-old manages to climb two weight classes to unseat fellow undisputed champ Canelo Alvarez at 168 pounds, his suggestion that he’s already Canastota bound will have some heft.
“I just have to stay hungry,” he said earlier this month during a live-streamed media workout.
“And I’ve been hungry. I would’ve fought Canelo years ago, and it probably wouldn’t have been as big as it is now. But I’m not too focused on being in the ring with Canelo, I’m just hungry. I want to win this fight for my city. If I accomplish this massive goal, it’ll be hard to top.
“I’ll be in the record book with the greats of boxing for a long time.”
Charlo isn’t on The Ring’s most recent pound-for-pound list, but that’ll change, too, if he finds a way to handle Alvarez, who’s been in the top 10 for five years and currently resides at No. 4.
Pressure, as they say these days, is a privilege.
“Of course there’s pressure,” he said.
“We have to be dominant and not just rely on a knockout. I have to beat him for 12 rounds. I have to do what I have to do in the ring to protect myself while still being vicious.”
Elsewhere in the top 10, some Hall tickets are already punched. And some need supplementing.
Terence Crawford (No. 1) – A three-division champion with four-belt claims in two of them, “Bud” is already deserving. If he exited now at 40-0, no one could legitimately deny his entry. IN
Naoya Inoue (No. 2) – The “Monster” has been a champ in one form or another since his sixth pro fight in 2014. He’s still got road ahead of him, but an abrupt end wouldn’t keep him from a plaque. IN
Oleksandr Usyk (No. 3) – Like Inoue a spot before him Usyk probably, or hopefully, has at least one significant event still in front of him. But belts at 200 and heavyweight get this writer’s vote already. IN
Canelo Alvarez (No. 4) – No active fighter on the list has a more warranted claim on Canastota based on what’s already been accomplished. Even if Charlo wins, Alvarez is an absolute lock. IN
Dmitry Bivol (No. 5) – This is where the line is drawn. Though Bivol does have a win over Alvarez, he’s had one reign and no other truly significant wins. If he wants enshrinement, he’s got work left to do. OUT
Errol Spence Jr. (No. 6) – A win over Crawford would have significantly helped his case, but even a still-pristine one-term reign would need additional embellishment. Unless he gets another big win, he’s out. OUT
Devin Haney (No. 7) – There’s no one already suggesting a 24-year-old has earned his way, but a win over Regis Prograis in October would surely help. He’ll still need a few more years of dominance, though. OUT
Gervonta Davis (No. 8) – A prodigious start, certainly. But 29 straight wins without anyone who could really be considered a 50/50 foe isn’t enough. World-class fighter? Yes. All-timer already? No. OUT
Teofimo Lopez (No. 9) – Another interesting case and a guy who’s laid a prodigious foundation with championships at two weights. But two title wins isn’t enough without several more additions. OUT
Vasily Lomachenko (No. 10) – The Ukrainian is at the back of the list these days after several years close to the front, but he’s far more a lock than anyone beyond the top four. Go ahead and cast his fists. IN
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBF featherweight title – Corpus Christi, Texas
Luis Alberto Lopez (champion/No. 1 Ring) vs Joet Gonzalez (Unranked IBF/Unranked Ring)
Lopez (28-2, 16 KO): Second title defense; Eleven straight wins since 2019 (11-0, 8 KO)
Gonzalez (26-3, 15 KO): Third title fight (0-3); Three wins in six fights after 23-0 career start
Fitzbitz says: Lopez has established himself as the class of a deep division that’s nevertheless void of superstars. Gonzalez has been a title-level gatekeeper twice and it won’t change. Lopez in 9 (99/1)
WBA/WBC light flyweight titles – Tokyo, Japan
Kenshiro Teraji (champion/No. 1 Ring) vs. Hekkie Budler (No. 1 WBC/No. 3 Ring)
Teraji (21-1, 13 KO): Third WBC title defense; Held WBC title at 108 pounds (2017-21, eight defenses)
Budler (35-4, 11 KO): Tenth title fight (6-3); Held WBA title at 105 and IBF title at 108 (four defenses)
Fitzbitz says: Budler is an elder statesman in the lower weights, and he’s got dual titleholder street cred but at 35 it seems too big an ask. Teraji sends the South African to pasture. Teraji by decision (95/5)
WBO junior bantamweight title – Tokyo, Japan
Junto Nakatani (champion/No. 4 Ring) vs. Argi Cortes (No. 6 WBO/Unranked Ring)
Nakatani (25-0, 19 KO): First title defense; Held WBO title at 112 pounds (2020-22, two defenses)
Cortes (25-3-2, 10 KO): First title fight; First fight outside of Mexico
Fitzbitz says: No disrespect to Cortes and his acumen as a fighter but he seems well beyond his element here. Nakatani has reigned in two divisions and beaten a far better grade of foe. Nakatani in 6 (99/1)
Last week's picks: None
2023 picks record: 29-11 (72.5 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,279-419 (75.3 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.