Tuesday, April 16, 2024  |



Jermall Charlo not intimidated by J Rock’s ‘Philly fighter’ rep

Jermall Charlo (L) engages in an intense stare down with Julian Williams. Photo by Stephanie Trapp / Showtime
Fighters Network

LOS ANGELES – As his challenger stood at the podium during the recent final press conference for their Saturday showdown, Jermall Charlo glared at Julian Williams without batting an eye. However, there were many thoughts going through head of the IBF junior middleweight titleholder.

“I want to thank Jermall for being a true champion. Stepping up to take the fight – a tough fight, it’s gonna be,” were the opening words from Williams at the Founders’ Club inside the Galen Center on the USC campus. It is there Charlo will look to defend his 154-pound title for the second time, and it will serve as the co-featured bout on Showtime (10:00 PM ET / 7 PT) before a featherweight main event between Jesus Cuellar and Abner Mares.

“I’m just excited about the fight,” continued Williams. “On paper it’s a 50/50 fight. I’ve been waiting a long, long time to prove to people what I can do. I’ve been underrated and overlooked a lot, but it doesn’t matter anymore because Saturday night will be my time to shine. Like Mr. Schaefer said, I haven’t lost a round since I was 12-0. I think that says a lot. I don’t plan on losing any rounds on Saturday night either.”

Referring to Richard Schaefer, whose new company – Ringstar Promotions – will be putting on their first show ever with this event, Williams may have taken the bait of a meaningless stat promoters often throw out there, but Charlo certainly didn’t, and he made that clear once speaking with RingTV.com after the press conference.

“Nobody is really focused on Julian Williams right now,” proclaimed Charlo when asked about his undefeated challenger who finally got a world title shot. “Everyone wants to see if Jermall Charlo will remain undefeated and remain the champion of the world. When you fighting the same guys that I fought to come up, and then say I’ve never lost a round to anybody. Come on bro, you ain’t gotta do that all that, you know? Fight your fight, stick to your game plan, and if you’re a champion, you’re gonna be champion no matter what.”

Fighting out of Houston, Texas, Charlo also had qualms with the “Philly fighter” narrative so often told whenever a fighter from Philadelphia steps in the ring, which is the case for Williams.

“We had great champions come from Texas that I was able to follow as a kid,” said Charlo when another reporter asked about fighters from Philly. He continued, “Not only great champions that were home-grown from Texas, but a lot of great champions would come to Texas in order to become legends. Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Vernon Forrest, George Foreman, I grew up around these guys… Rocky Juarez won (an Olympic) silver medal right out of the state. It’s not like Texas is overlooked, or people don’t know that we are a fighting city, but when you think of Philadelphia, you think of these Rocky movies, and you think of training in the cold, but you’ve never trained in the humidity or the heat. If you’ve never been out there it’s different, and that’s where I’m from.”

Charlo (24-0, 18 knockouts) was in the same position as Williams is today a little more than a year ago. In September 2015, he dropped Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage four times en route to winning a world title in his first attempt. While Bundrage was 42 years old at the time, Charlo’s third-round stoppage win was impressive, and it was fueled by something he presumes Williams has now.

“I was just as hungry as Julian Williams,” said Charlo when asked to reflect on his mindset back then. “I knew I couldn’t make a mistake in that fight, so I went for the kill, and I hope that’s what he comes out for because that’s what I’m prepared for…I want him to be a bully. I want him to be the man. I want him to feel like he’s that guy. I want him to be the best that everyone else says that he is. I want to fight the best, and I want him to be that guy.”

After a non-competitive drubbing of Wilky Campfort in his first defense two months after winning the title, Charlo went on to what he agreed to call his toughest fight to date against Austin Trout this past May. “The Trout fight was a hard fight,” Jermall recalled about his unanimous decision win. “A lot of people don’t know Trout trained very well. He had a great cornerman. They made great adjustments in the fight. He beat champions and he had been at this level before, so I knew that I had to get ready for him and I was.”

A pupil of famed trainer, Ronnie Shields, Charlo is confident in himself, but not content. “I’m not at the level right now where I would consider myself being great,” answered Charlo when asked by another reporter about where he’s at in his career right now. “I have to work more. I have to continue to take fights like this. I have to prevail. I have to fight adversity. There’s things that I haven’t been through yet, and I’m just ready to absorb everything that’s going on. I’m ready.”

Charlo, 26, who’s physical size may be a shock to some, says weight won’t be an issue come Friday afternoon, and after going through LASIK surgery on his eyes over the summer, that won’t be a concern either. “My vision is good. My mind is good. My weight is awesome. Camp was great. I don’t have an excuse,” he said. As for what threat stands out from Williams, Charlo responded, “I’m not threatened by anything. I’m gonna hold my ground.”

In the final question posed by ringtv.com, Charlo was asked to speak more on a quote of his from a Showtime video promo released earlier in the week. In the video (video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewawpGnCaHw), Charlo said Williams was “a little green to me,” and when asked to elaborate on that, Jermall said, “I don’t remember the quote. I don’t remember calling him green. I think he’s a real seasoned fighter.” He continued, but not without taking a final jab at the fighter from Philly when mockingly saying, “He’s from Philadelphia – ‘a hard knock life’ – whatever you all want to say: The sirens go off every night, well, in Houston too – you understand what I’m saying? There’s champions in the city of Houston, and we’re here to stay.”

After speaking with him, that glare of Charlo’s was more of a scowl upon reflection, but it didn’t go unnoticed by his foe. Williams looked to his right before ending his spiel at the podium, and connected with Charlo’s eyes while saying his final words, “Let’s give these fans what they want to see.”
Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs) could be seen exiting the presser once the chat with Charlo was over, and RingTV.com proceeded to follow him for a quick follow-up. Along with his trainer, Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, Williams went to the floor of the arena to scope out the ring which was still being assembled.

“See how tight the ropes are. See if there are any dead spots inside the ring. I’ll probably come back tomorrow, walk around inside the ring, and makes sure there’s no loose dead spots,” said Williams when asked what he was doing.

Williams, 26, has waited a long time for a title shot, and it took the IBF proclaiming him as a mandatory opponent for Charlo in order to make this fight happen. After explaining the perceived animosity Charlo may have toward against him and his city, Williams was asked why he thinks this may be, and his answer was as cognizant as it was short.

“Because I want to fight him. He’s not used to people wanting fight him.”