Q&A: Jermall Charlo



Last year Jermall Charlo fought seven times, winning each inside the distance. The wins moved Charlo from prospect to fringe contender. However, a couple of months ago he received a surprise call to face Carlos Molina this Saturday for the IBF junior middleweight title.

“I’m coming off seven straight knockouts,” Charlo told over the phone from Houston prior to leaving for Las Vegas. “I’ve beaten good guys who had winning records.

“I’ve proved to my trainer and manager that I’m ready for this level and that’s by putting me in there with the sharks and seeing how good I swim.”

Jermall, the older identical twin brother of 154-pound contender Jermell Charlo by one minute, will be taking a significant step up in class against the seasoned Molina having only had one scheduled 10 rounder and never going past seven rounds.

The 23-year-old Texan is not worried about his relative lack of pro experience.

“No, not at all, we train for 15-rounds, we’re scheduled for 12-rounds, normally it doesn’t go that far, a person is only able to take so much pressure and the way we train over here I don’t think anyone is going to hold up,” said Charlo.

Charlo (17-0, 13 knockouts) is currently ranked by the WBC (No. 15) and IBF (No. 14).

Along with Molina-Charlo, the Showtime Pay-Per-View event from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is headlined by Saul Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo, and supported by WBC 122-pound titleholder Leo Santa Cruz vs. wily veteran Cristian Mijares. Tounding out the card will be an intriguing lightweight bout between Jorge Linares and hard charging Japanese contender Nihito Arakawa.

Anson Wainwright – On Saturday you face Carlos Molina for his IBF junior middleweight title. What are your thoughts on this fight?

JC – It’s another day in the office. I’ve been working hard here at Plex with Danny Arnold and (trainer) Ronnie Shields, so it’s my duty to do my job.

AW – Molina won the title in his last fight, beating Ishe Smith. When you look at that and his other fights what do you see in terms of strengths and weaknesses?

JC – He’s low in defense, his defense is to hold and punch. My defense is my movement and my agility, my ring generalship in the ring. I’m not studying his weaknesses or strengths. I just know that I have to fight every round hard to become IBF champion of the world.

AW – In your most recent outing you stopped Joseph De los Santos in five rounds. Tell us about that fight?

JC – The game plan was just to continue to do what I do and that’s start off with my jab, set my own pace and continue work behind everything my coach has told me to do and it worked out perfectly.

He wasn’t able to hold the pressure within five rounds so the stoppage just came.

AW – In 2013, you were very active, fighting seven times and winning all seven by knockout or stoppage.

JC – Well, I’ve always been a hard worker but when you add my strength and conditioning trainer Danny Arnold to my regiment in 2013 you’ll see the results. That’s why I won all seven by knockout last year. I mean that’s pretty much it, I trained like a real professional athlete last year and I got good results from it.

AW – Was it a surprise to you that you got a title shot as quickly as you have?

JC – No. Like you said, I’m coming off seven straight knockouts. I’ve beaten good guys who had winning records and I’ve proved to my trainer and manager that I’m ready for this level and that’s by putting me in there with the sharks and seeing how good I swim.

AW – You’ve only once fought a scheduled 10 rounder and never gone past seven rounds. However, this fight with Molina is scheduled for 12 rounds. Is that a slight concern?

JC – No, not at all, we train for 15-rounds, we’re scheduled for 12-rounds, normally it doesn’t go that far, a person is only able to take so much pressure and the way we train over here I don’t think anyone is going to hold up. We’re just going to have to see what Carlos Molina brings out.

AW – Tell us about your team?

JC – My team: legendary Ronnie Shields is my boxing instructor, my strength and conditioner is Danny Arnold, we train at Plex (in Houston). I work alongside my twin brother Jermell Charlo, who’s a top contender, and Erislandy Lara and my main sparring partner Brian Vera. He put more pressure on (me) than Carlos Molina (will). He’s stronger than Carlos Molina and he’s more hungry.

Training with guys like Steve Lovett (light heavyweight, 7-0, 5 knockouts) from Australia, it’s amazing I have all the strength and all the power and speed in need to see to get ready for a guy like Carlos Molina.

AW – Can you tell us about your younger days?

JC – My dad and mom did a great job providing for us. Of course, there were things I wanted and never thought I’d get. Me and my twin brother we moved from state to state. We weren’t as stable as we should have been or could have been but it’s all a growing lesson in making me who I am today.

I’ve been around boxing all my life. My dad was a boxer. He competed with the professionals, he just couldn’t make it to where we are but he kept us grounded. He kept us in boxing and we never turned back.

I competed in a lot of amateur fights, almost every weekend if I could but I couldn’t make it over the hump. I never got the opportunity to be one of the best amateurs. I was once told by Evander Holyfield when he was training with Ronnie Shields, “The first shall be last and the last will be the first.” I feel like it’s my time now. I’ve matured into the boxer I want to be. I know my game plan, I know my strengths. I know the things I need to get better in. The amateurs helped me out a lot, it’s more so I’ve grown into a man and into the sport of boxing.

AW – You have an identical twin brother who is also a world-class junior middleweight. Tell us about the relationship the two of you share?

JC – My brother that’s my heart. My mom always thought all the way up to labor that she was having one big girl. She had girl clothes ready so when she had us in the delivery room there was two of us, so instantly it made my father and mom get us ready to prepare for the world. That’s what they did for us and that’s what we do for our family.

We’ve been together side by side, facing tough opponents, facing trials and tribulations in life and had to grow from. We’re twins, we’re just God given, we have God-given powers, God-given attributes and everything that we do comes strictly from God.

We’re best friends. His heart is my heart. The same blood that’s in his veins is in my veins. You know how they ask ‘Do you feel it when your brother is hurt?’ Yeah, of course, it’s even worse. I actually see another human being walk this earth who’s exactly the same as me.

AW – How are you both different?

JC – We’re so much alike but at the same time it’s almost like a day and night feel. First off I’m a long minute older than my brother, I feel a lot like the big brother. He actually looks up to me and I kind of look at him like he’s my little brother even though we’re twins. It forces me to learn a lot more and do a lot more than my twin brother but we’re not too much different.

As far as boxing, I didn’t start off with Golden Boy Promotions. My brother signed with them, he couldn’t wait on me; so I stayed another year in the amateurs, the road’s been long. I gained different aspects and different strategies in the ring that my brother don’t even have to face. It’s been a journey.

AW – How about things like your parents telling you apart?

JC – They get us confused. If we both have our shirts off, my tattoos are different from my brothers. They’ve been around us all our life, like Danny Arnold and Ronnie Shields have been around us long enough to know the difference between us, our personalitiess and thing’s that I’m interested in. I’m more the outside type, I like to do me, my brother he likes a lot of friends around him, I don’t. He likes a lot of attention and I don’t. There’s a lot of things that we’re different in but when it comes to things like food, clothes, we’re pretty much the same.

AW – The Klitschkos always said they’d never fight, presumably you and Jermell wouldn’t either?

JC – Yeah we’re in the same weight class, that’s why we’re a team. We wouldn’t fight each other. We fought each other so much growing up that we hate to even argue with each other.

AW – How about when you were amateurs? Did you not fight then?

JC – We both weighed 100-pounds but we wouldn’t both be able to fight in the 100-pound division. I had to drink a lot of water to make 101, so I could be in a different weight class.

I’ve always had a personal sparring partner who’s the exact same size. I never had to look for work. I never had to look for someone to push me, ‘cause we were born like that.

We plan on holding the world titles together.

AW – So like the Klitschkos you want to reign supreme, sharing the belts?

JC – Yeah, if we can get it like that, ‘cause I know if you have the WBC you can’t have any other belts. So if my brother captures the WBC before I do, I’ll take the rest.

We’ll hold the belts and put them in my dad’s house and put them in a case, so it’s ours as a family.

AW – Ok, so who’s the best of the two of you?

JC – (Laughs) If you ask him, he’s going to say him, if you ask me I’m going to say me but I really feel like my brother is better. I’m stronger, I’m fast, we both have attributes we share a like but when it comes to the determination and me being vicious enough to get fighters out of there and I really don’t hold back. I say what I want; he watches what he says and what he does. I let it flow off naturally.

I’m not even signed with Golden Boy right now. I had to make a way to keep fighting and getting better so Al Haymon can give me a chance and since he’s the best manager in boxing right now I got that opportunity and I haven’t looked back since.

AW – So part of your motivation is presumably if you win Golden Boy will sign you?

JC – Well it’s always been one of my dreams. When my brother signed with Golden Boy, it brought a different type of hunger, knowing I wasn’t with them and I always go to my brother’s fights and look how they treat him and it’s nice and I always wanted to be a part of the Golden Boy staff. But me getting Al Haymon made me realize I didn’t need Golden Boy, Top Rank or any promoter.

AW – If we look at the junior middleweights, what are your thoughts on the division?

JC – I feel like I have advantages in the junior middleweight division that I feel no other fighter in the division has, my size, my power, my speed. I’m now just growing into the junior middleweight division so I feel like I can hold it for a little while.

I look at guys who have the titles, (Floyd) Mayweather (Jr.), (Erislandy) Lara, Demetrius Andrade, Carlos Molina – none of those guys are six feet or above. I am. Not only that, I weigh just as much as those guys but I have different power, different attributes, I’m more an athlete than every guy in the division right now. I feel it’s just a matter of time until I can showcase my skills and when skills meet time I’ll be champion of the world.

AW – In closing do you have a message for Carlos Molina?

JC – I’m coming to fight. He was the challenger at one time, he knows how hard he worked to become champion, so he can expect me to do everything he did to beat Ishe Smith but 10 times better.

I feel like this belt is mine. I want it so bad. I want it for my city. I want it for my state of Texas. I want to bring it back so bad, so I’m going to do whatever I have to do to beat Carlos Molina. I hope he’s ready for it.

Photo/ Tony Brullard-Hoganphotos

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at