LAS VEGAS – Derrick James has been perplexed whenever he has looked at pound-for-pound lists that omit Jermell Charlo.
James notices names on such lists that he believes haven’t accomplished as much as the undisputed junior middleweight champion he has long trained. Charlo, 33, is one of only nine male fighters to become an undisputed champion during boxing’s four-belt era and he has atoned for the close loss and the draw on his record by knocking out Tony Harrison and Brian Castano in their respective rematches.
“Most of the people on the pound-for-pound list haven’t done half the stuff Jermell has done,” James told BoxingScene.com after Charlo and Canelo Alvarez made their “grand arrivals” Tuesday afternoon at MGM Grand. “Most of the fighters on the list haven’t done what he’s done. He’s a two-time champ, undisputed champ, and he’s still not on some lists. I don’t know what it’s gonna take for him to get on other people’s lists, but I just think he has to keep doing what he’s doing and be successful.”
Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) hasn’t fought in 16 months, which could factor into why the Houston native isn’t listed among the top 10 pound-for-pound by ESPN.com or The Ring magazine. BoxingScene.com has Charlo sixth on its list, even though he has been out of the ring for more than a year due in large part to two fractures he suffered in his left hand during a sparring session a few days before last Christmas.
Charlo’s long layoff notwithstanding, James can’t understand how his fighter hasn’t cracked some pound-for-pound lists.
“It could be personal, it could be political,” James said. “I don’t know, man. I mean, nobody’s been knocking people out like that.”
James knows, however, that there will be no justification for leaving Charlo off a pound-for-pound list if he upsets Alvarez in their 12-round fight Saturday night at nearby T-Mobile Arena. Handicappers have made Alvarez a 4-1 favorite mostly because Charlo has moved up two weight classes, from the 154-pound division to 168, to challenge the Mexican icon for his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO super middleweight championships in their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event (8 p.m. EDT; 5 p.m. PDT; $84.99).
Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs), who is also 33, has lost only a unanimous decision to unbeaten WBA light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol in the 10 years since Floyd Mayweather beat him by majority decision in their 12-round junior middleweight title fight. Russia’s Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) beat Alvarez convincingly in a 12-round, 175-pound championship clash that took place in May 2022 at T-Mobile Arena, which knocked Alvarez from the top spot on numerous pound-for-pound lists.
The four-division champion is still ranked fifth by BoxingScene.com and fourth by both ESPN.com and The Ring.
“I think [beating Alvarez] does a lot for his legacy,” James said. “I think they’ll have to say that he’s one of the best fighters in the world. He’s doing something that Sugar Ray Robinson tried, to be the undisputed champ in two different weight divisions at the same time. And [Robinson] failed. But if Jermell does this, it would be great for him.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.