Jermall Charlo acknowledged Thursday that Juan Macias Montiel has a lot of power.
The unbeaten WBC middleweight champion clarified, though, that Montiel will encounter an opponent unlike anyone he has previously fought when they square off Saturday night in Houston, Charlo’s hometown. Each of Montiel’s 22 professional wins have come by knockout, including a first-round stoppage of James Kirkland in his most recent bout, but Charlo cautioned Montiel to remember that he is about to box a fighter that operates on another level.
“I’m not worried about all the talk,” Charlo said during a press conference at the Hilton Americas-Houston. “He talk. He say whatever he wanna say. That’s just gonna open up. You know, it’s just gonna make me fight even harder. Like, stop with the shenanigans. The 22 knockouts that he had, you gotta go back and look at the resume. He knocked out James Kirkland. He got happy as f---. James Kirkland was done. You understand what I’m sayin’?
“The other knockouts he had, they was from Mexico somewhere. They never fought before. You gotta think about what you sayin’. Like, this is Jermall Charlo you talkin’ to. Jermall Charlo, ‘The Hitman.’ It’s a bag on your head. We comin’. We in Houston. Think about it.”
Mexico’s Montiel (22-4-2, 22 KOs) is 3-0-1 since former WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia (36-0, 29 KOs) knocked him out in the second round of their welterweight fight in February 2017. Montiel’s 10-round split draw after his loss to Munguia came against Hugo Centeno Jr. (27-3-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC), an opponent Charlo knocked out in the second round of their April 2018 bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is well aware of those very different results against a common opponent.
“This is a real fight,” Charlo said. “This not James Kirkland. This not Hugo Centeno. He hurt Hugo Centeno, they draw. I knocked Hugo Centeno out. Think about everything that’s in the past. You’re only as good as your last fight, right? I fought [Sergiy] Derevyanchenko in my last fight. He fought Kirkland. It’s levels. And then I get a chance to show the level that I’m on on Saturday.
“I’m not talkin’ about it. What happen in the ring gonna happen in the ring. If he that good, if his corner that good and they put up a game plan that nobody else put up before, then I’ll accept it. But other than that, I’ve trained hard. I trained hard, very hard for this fight. I’ll show you.”
Montiel floored Kirkland three times in their December 26 bout. Kirkland (34-3, 30 KOs), a faded former contender from Austin, Texas, was stopped just 1:56 into a 10-round fight FOX televised from Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
The William Hill sports book lists Charlo as a 33-1 favorite to defeat Montiel, the WBC’s fourth-ranked challenger for his title. Showtime will broadcast their 12-round, 160-pound title fight as the main event of a three-bout broadcast set to start at 9 p.m. EDT.
Mexico’s Isaac Cruz (21-1-1, 15 KOs) will meet countryman Francisco Vargas (27-2-2, 19 KOs) in the co-feature, a 10-round lightweight bout. In Showtime’s opener, Albuquerque’s Angelo Leo (20-1, 9 KOs) and Mexico’s Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs) are set to square off in a 10-round junior featherweight bout.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.