Jermall Charlo cannot wait to headline a show at the big arena in his hometown Saturday night.
As much as Charlo appreciates the opportunity to box in a main event at Toyota Center in downtown Houston, the date on which his next fight will take place is important to the WBC middleweight champion, too. The 31-year-old Charlo has taken a lot of time to reflect on the historical and social significance of boxing on Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday in the United States on Thursday, when President Joe Biden signed legislation into law.
Juneteenth, a day to celebrate the emancipation of Black slaves in America, is especially meaningful in Texas because slaves were declared free in that state on June 19, 1865.
“I gave that a lot of thought,” Charlo said during a press conference Thursday at Hilton Americas-Houston. “You know, I’m honored to be fighting on June 19th, to get the chance to represent my people and all the African-Americans that found out they were free back in the days, all the ancestors that fought. You know, I get the chance to fight on the same day that they found out they were free. That’s awesome. You know, I love it.”
Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is scheduled to make an optional defense of his 160-pound crown against Mexico’s Juan Macias Montiel (22-4-2, 22 KOs), the WBC’s fourth-ranked contender for Charlo’s championship. Showtime will televise their 12-round bout as the main event of a tripleheader from the home arena of the NBA’s Houston Rockets (9 p.m. EDT; 6 p.m. PDT).
Charlo hopes having Black boxers headline shows on or around the time of Juneteenth becomes an annual thing in boxing, much the way Mexican boxers, most notably Canelo Alvarez, have fought on or around Cinco de Mayo (May 5) and Mexican Independence Day (September 16).
“I love the idea and that’s something that we’re doing right now,” Charlo stated during a virtual press conference last week. “We’re starting off with our first fight on June 19th for my brothers and my sisters in the black community. June 19th, I stand in the gat for you guys. So, I get a chance to fight for my people, my community, my color, my race. It’s gonna be an amazing night of boxing. And I get to do it against a neighbor, a Mexican neighbor, so you know, it’s gonna be a fight. You know, not to make it anything about race because I love all people. But yeah, I get the chance to fight for the Black Lives Matter community, just everybody that stand up for me, I get a chance to stand right back up for them.”
Boxing on Juneteenth in his hometown will conclude a meaningful week for Charlo and his twin, Jermell Charlo. The Charlo brothers received a special proclamation from Houston mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday, which was declared “Jermell and Jermall Charlo Day” in the city where they were born and raised.
Jermell Charlo, the IBF/WBA/WBC 154-pound champion, will be proud to see his brother box on Juneteenth.
“Me and my family have celebrated Juneteenth since I was young,” Jermell Charlo said. “A lot of people don’t understand it and don’t give this holiday the recognition it deserves. But this year, because of my brother’s big fight, Houston isn’t gonna forget it.”
Jermell Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) is in the middle of training camp for a title unification fight.
He’ll battle WBO junior middleweight champ Brian Castano (17-0-1, 12 KOs) on July 17 in another main event Showtime will televise from AT&T Center in San Antonio. Unless their fight results in a draw, the Charlo-Castano winner will become the first fully unified champion in the 154-pound division during boxing’s four-belt era.
“I really appreciate my twin brother for standing by my side,” Jermell Charlo said. “We’ve been boxing since we were 8 years old, and we never gave up this dream. This is what we do. We’re putting on for the city on Saturday, and then I’m gonna do it for my city on July 17th. … Right now, it’s all about taking over our divisions and supporting our family. There’s a lot more to come from the Charlo twins.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.