Friday, February 23, 2024  |


Jermall Charlo knows he’s in ‘no-win situation’ against unknown Juan Montiel

Jermall Charlo (right) nails Brandon Adams. Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime
Fighters Network

Jermall Charlo, calm and cool, said he is not upset or even frustrated. The WBC middleweight world titlist is simply realistic.

He realizes he is a no-win situation when he makes his fourth title defense against the unheralded and huge underdog Juan Macias Montiel in the main event of a Showtime-televised tripleheader on Saturday (9 p.m. ET) at the Toyota Center in Houston, Charlo’s hometown.

Charlo knows he is likely to receive little credit if he wins and probable derision if he loses or even struggles.

“No win situation,” Charlo said via recent video conference from his gym. “People don’t know Montiel. I know Montiel. I’m gonna continue to be the best Jermall Charlo you’ve ever seen. I get better and better every fight. I hope I get to fight against the top competition, but you guys get to see a real legend in Jermall Charlo.”

If Charlo had his choice he would not be facing Montiel, whose lone win of remote note came in his last fight when he drilled long-faded former contender James Kirkland in the first round in December.

Charlo would rather be facing a more well-known middleweight with a world title: IBF titlist Gennadiy Golovkin or WBO beltholder Demetrius Andrade.

“Apparently, the thing I want next I don’t ever get,” Charlo said. “If they give me (unified super middleweight champion) Canelo (Alvarez) I will 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 and he thinks he’s gonna knock me out.”

How those more significant fights get made remains to be seen. Golovkin is on a path leading to a probable fight late this year against WBA titlist Ryota Murata. There has been some back and forth between Charlo and Andrade promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing but no serious movement has been made toward the bout.

“It’s easy to make the fights if the fighter wants to fight,” Charlo said. “I want to fight the best in the world, so we’ll see as how it goes. I’ll just continue to fight fights like these until the guys realize somebody got to try and come and get this WBC belt one day or another. I’m comfortable here at 160. I’m the king at 160. I’ll go up (in weight), of course, for the bigger fights but the bigger fights got to come to me. They got to want to fight me. I can’t make them get in the ring with me. There’s nothing I can do about that.”

When asked then how will the boxing public and press truly know who the best in the division is if the best do not fight each other, Charlo paused before answering slowly.

“I don’t know,” Charlo said. “The way I beat the guys they beat? I take ‘em out. I make it look easy. I just got continue to hold onto the strap. I don’t know, man. The middleweight division is very complicated. The fights are there, so I guess real soon you’ll get a chance to see them but until then I got to reign as the champion.”

The 31-year-old Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is coming off an impressive unanimous decision over Sergey Derevyanchenko in a September title defense. He beat Derevyanchenko far more easily than Golovkin did for the vacant IBF title in October 2019. GGG won a unanimous decision in an all-action slugfest, but many at ringside believed Derevyanchenko deserved to have his hand raised.

Charlo also had a much easier time with Derevyanchenko than Jacobs, who has since moved up to super middleweight, did when he scraped by him for a split decision win that earned him the vacant IBF belt in 2018.

Charlo claimed his team has attempted to secure a fight for him against other significant opponents but to no avail.

“We’ve tried, man, we’ve tried,” he said. “I fight Derevyanchenko and we try to go attack Golovkin and (former middleweight champion) Canelo moves up and he schedules a bout with someone else. Demetrius Andrade, whatever his name is, he fights somebody that nobody knows. We tried, man.

“Only thing I can do is focus on Montiel. I’m not frustrated by it. I’m the champ. So, apparently, if they want to unify they have to figure out a way to make it work.”

In the meantime, Charlo is content to face Montiel (22-4-2, 22 KOs), 27, of Mexico, and to do so in front of a hometown crowd.

“High risk, no reward,” Charlo said of the fight. “I get no credit by knocking Montiel out.  I just got to continue to be the best I can be.”

Montiel is from the same boxing family that produced Fernando Montiel, who won world titles at flyweight, junior bantamweight and bantamweight during his 1996 to 2016 career, and said he is ready to score the upset.

“Whoever thinks this is an easy fight for Jermall, doesn’t know me at all,” Montiel said through an interpreter. “That’s like saying a spark can’t light a forest on fire. I’m going to show on (Saturday) that I’m more than up to the challenge of showing who Juan Macias Montiel is.

“I don’t see any weaknesses in Charlo’s game. He’s No. 1 for a reason. I’m going to have to fight him to the best of my abilities. He’s at the top of his game and I respect what he brings. I think I have matured since my losses. I have trained very smart for this opportunity. I’m not going to let this slip away because of anything that I didn’t do.”

Photo by Stephanie Trapp / TBG Promotions

Charlo can’t imagine that happening, especially in his hometown and on a day special to him, June 19 — the Juneteenth holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865.

“There’s no better day to fight than Juneteenth. It’s a celebration for me and my people and I get to represent them and carry them on my back,” Charlo said.

It’s a date that Charlo thinks should become a destination date for a fight involving a significant Black fighter like how there are regularly major fights involving Mexican boxers on Cinco de Mayo weekend in May and Mexican Independence Day weekend in September and fights with Puerto Rican stars on the annual Puerto Rican Day parade weekend in New York.

“I love the idea and that’s something we’re doing right now,” Charlo said. “We’re starting off with our first fight on June 19 for my brothers and my sisters and the black community. I get a chance to fight for my people, my community, my color, my race. It’s going to be an amazing night of boxing and I do it against a neighbor, a Mexican neighbor, but not to make it anything about race because I love all people. But I get a chance to fight for the Black Lives Matter community. Everyone that stands up for me, I get to stand back up for them.”

Ronnie Shields, Charlo’s trainer, also likes the Juneteenth aspect of the event.

“To defend your title in your backyard, in your hometown, that’s a very special thing. Not only is it going to be special because of that, it’s going to be special because Juneteenth is a very special day for all African Americans in the state of Texas,” said Shields, who is also Black. “We’re looking forward to a great fight. We know we can’t underestimate anybody. We’re looking forward to having everybody come out for this great celebration.”

Also on the card, lightweight contender Isaac Cruz (21-1-1, 15 KOs), 22, of Mexico, will face former junior lightweight titlist and two-time fight of the year participant Francisco Vargas (27-2-2, 19 KOs), 36, of Mexico, in the 10-round co-feature.

In the opener, former junior featherweight titlist Angelo Leo (20-1, 9 KOs), 26, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, will face southpaw Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs), 27, of Mexico, in a 10-rounder. Leo will be fighting for the first time since losing his belt by unanimous decision in his first defense to Stephen Fulton on Jan. 23 and Alameda is also coming off his first loss, a unanimous decision to Luis Nery for the vacant WBC junior featherweight title in September on the Charlo-Derevyanchenko undercard.