Jermall Charlo patiently sat back and listened to idle chatter suggesting he didn’t want any part of the top middleweights.
That said, his upcoming title defense versus Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10KOs) was never about silencing his critics, but simply taking that first step toward his goal of middleweight supremacy.
“I’m smart, real strong, athletic… everything else you want to learn about me will come on September 26,” Charlo told Premier Boxing Champions’ Ray Flores during a virtual open workout in Houston ahead of his Showtime Pay-Per-View co-headliner at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. “For the fans who don’t give a sh*t about me, it’s on to the next one.”
Charlo’s competition level has come into question ever since moving up from junior middleweight, where he established himself as a top player. A title reign at 154 pounds including a decision win over former champ Austin Trout and a 5th round knockout of Julian Williams, who would later go on to become a unified titlist.
Five fights into his middleweight run, Charlo (30-0, 22KOs) hasn’t quite moved the needle. While perfect at the weight (5-0, 3KOs), the level of competition pales in comparison to where he once was at in his career. Even his title reign came under circumstances beyond his control, being handed a belt after his desired target, lineal middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (53-1-2, 36KOs) turned in his WBC belt in exchange for the sanctioning body’s “Franchise” title status.
Two defenses have followed, including a 7th round stoppage of Dennis Hogan last December in Brooklyn, New York. At the time, Charlo was being groomed for a showdown with second-generation contender Chris Eubank Jr. When that didn’t pan out, the mandate to his handlers was to secure the toughest available challenge.
Ukraine’s Derevyanchenko has only lost on the title stage, dropping close decisions to Daniel Jacobs and Gennadiy Golovkin in separate title bids. The third time will not be the charm, insists Charlo who plans to send a message to the rest of the division.
“Buckle yo seatbelt. Yeah, buckle yo seatbelt. It’s liftoff,” promises Charlo. “Everyone that was doubting me, everyone who was thinking they wouldn’t get a turn, you’ll get yo chance. You just hold tight. I’m running the show (at middleweight). I’m driving the boat. I got the big boat, so y’all stay locked. The spaceship gonna take off. You better be on it. If not, you gonna get skipped over.
“We got too much going on to be playing with y’all. Where the rest of the belts at? Where are the rest of the belts at?”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox