Jermall Charlo contends that he doesn’t want to fight an unknown underdog like Juan Macias Montiel on Saturday night.
The 31-year-old Charlo would prefer to challenge Canelo Alvarez or Gennadiy Golovkin. The two-division champion would welcome fights against Daniel Jacobs and Demetrius Andrade as well, but none of those fights were available to him during the time frame within which he wanted to return to the ring.
The Houston native instead will make an optional defense of his WBC middleweight title against Mexico’s Montiel at Toyota Center, the home arena of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. The William Hill sports book lists Charlo as a 33-1 favorite to beat Montiel in the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader (9 p.m. EDT; 6 p.m. PDT).
Montiel is a powerful puncher (22-4-2, 22 KOs), but Charlo’s fourth-ranked challenger was knocked out by Mexico’s Jaime Munguia (36-0, 29 KOs) in the second round of their welterweight fight in February 2017. The 27-year-old Montiel has competed at or near the middleweight limit since Munguia knocked him out, including a first-round stoppage of faded former contender James Kirkland (34-3, 30 KOs) on December 26 in Los Angeles.
“Apparently, the things that I want next I don’t never get,” Charlo said during a virtual press conference recently. “So, I just wanna be safe, I wanna be happy, I wanna take care of my family. I put my life on the line. If they give me Canelo, I’ll go to get Canelo. If they give me Golovkin, I’ll go get Golovkin. Danny Jacobs, Andrade, whatever, whoever they want. Whoever they want Jermall Charlo to fight. Right now, I got Juan Montiel. You know, and he think he gonna knock me out. So, he just lit the birthday cake for his self.”
Mexico’s Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) probably will box IBF super middleweight champ Caleb Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) in a full title unification fight in September.
The 39-year-old Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) probably wouldn’t be an option for Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) until next spring because the IBF/IBO middleweight champion likely will take a tune-up type of fight late in the summer before facing WBA middleweight champ Ryota Murata (16-2, 13 KOs) late in December in Tokyo.
Fights against Andrade (30-0, 18 KOs), the WBO middleweight champion, and Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) seem more makeable at the moment than showdowns with Alvarez or Golovkin.
Regardless, if Charlo cannot secure any of the fights he mentioned, it won’t necessarily accelerate his move from the 160-pound limit to the 168-pound division.
“Nah, I’ll just continue to fight fights like these,” Charlo said, “until the guys realize, you know, that somebody gotta try and come get this WBC belt one day or another.”
Charlo, a former IBF junior middleweight champ, is interested in competing in the super middleweight division, yet only for high-profile fights for which he would earn praise for winning. If he were to box Jacobs, a former IBF/WBA middleweight champ, that fight would have to be contested at least at a catch weight between middleweight and super middleweight because Jacobs can’t make middleweight anymore.
“I mean, I’m comfortable here at 160,” Charlo said. “I’m the king at 160. Man, the sky’s the limit. I’ll go up, of course, you know I’ll go up for the bigger fights. But the bigger fights gotta come to me. You know, they gotta wanna fight me. So, I can’t make ‘em get in the ring with me. It’s nothing I can do about that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.