By Keith Idec
Charles Hatley hasn’t fought in nearly 17 months, not an ideal amount of time between bouts if you’re preparing for a title fight.
The 31-year-old Hatley says, though, that he isn’t worried about this long layoff as he gets ready to meet Jermell Charlo for the WBC world super welterweight title April 22 in Brooklyn. Because their championship match was pushed back so many times, most recently from March 11 to April 22, Hatley has been training in some capacity to challenge Charlo since last summer.
That has helped the Dallas native stay sharp in the gym while waiting to finally get his first world title shot. Aside from sparring, Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs) hasn’t boxed since he knocked out former two-division title-holder Anthony Mundine (47-8, 27 KOs) in the 11th round of their November 2015 bout in Melbourne, Australia.
“The layoff was good for me,” Hatley said Wednesday during a conference call. “I actually was needing a layoff because I was so big at the time. I actually needed the layoff, but I thought we were gonna fight three months after he won the title [May 21 against John Jackson]. And it just kept going back, pushing it back further and further. And I’ve been training, so [I’ve been] well-prepared for it a while back. I never stopped training for it.”
The 26-year-old Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) hasn’t fought since he knocked out Jackson in the eighth round, either. The Houston resident will end an 11-month layoff of his own when he enters the ring at Barclays Center to make his first title defense against the WBC’s mandatory challenger.
Though his record seems to indicate it, Hatley isn’t so sure that when the opening bell rings April 22 that he’ll encounter the best opponent of his eight-year pro career.
“I can’t say that,” Hatley said. “He is a great fighter, and he’s coming to win, just like I am. But he’s never been to the test that he’s going to get. Because I’m sure he’s fought everybody that they believed he was gonna win against. But this fight here, they don’t know that he’s gonna win.
“And I’m sure he’s questioning hisself right now, if he’s gonna win, because I’m coming to the table to do what I’ve gotta do, and that’s bring the belt back to my city. I’m well-prepared for it, and I’m ready to fight. At the end of the day, all that back-and-forth talking, I’m really not about all of that. I’m really about getting in the ring and doing what I said I was gonna do.”
Charlo-Hatley will open Showtime’s doubleheader three weeks from Saturday night. The main event will pit Shawn Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs), of Akron, Ohio, against fellow former welterweight champion Andre Berto (31-4, 24 KOs), of Winter Haven, Florida.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.