The Charlos – Twin Engines, Different Speeds

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By Peter Lim

Born a minute apart, Jermall and Jermell Charlo have fights six days apart this week. On Sunday, Jermell (32-1, 16 KOs) scored a devastating knockout over Jorge Cota on Fox. Cota was a last minute substitute for his original opponent Tony Harrison who withdrew with an ankle injury three weeks prior to the fight.

On Saturday Jermall Charlo (28-0, 21 KOs) faces Brandon Adams (21-2, 13 KOs) at the NRG Arena in his hometown of Houston. The fight will be televised on Showtime.

Although the twins are just about equally accomplished at this juncture of their careers, that has not always been the case. Their DNA might be indistinguishable but they have gotten to where they are at different speeds, each accelerating at different spurts at different times.

The Early Years

Jermall might have beaten Jermell to life’s starting line by 60 seconds but early in their pro careers, it was Jermell who pulled ahead. He made his pro debut in December 2007, 10 months ahead of Jermall who was held back by a toe injury.

Jermell was signed by Golden Boy Promotions before his eighth fight and quickly became a regular fixture GBP cards. Jermall, on the other hand, was relegated to plying his craft in relative obscurity, fighting only once in 2010 and 2011, and twice in 2012.

Even at an young age, the twins felt the need to distinguish themselves from one another, and as soon as they were old enough to legally do so, they brandished their individuality with the messages they inked on their bodies.

“Our tattoos symbolize where we’re thinking from,” Jermell told The Houston Chronicle in 2009. “I have a tattoo that says ‘One of a Kind.’ I am a twin but I am one of a kind. Jermall has a tattoo that says ‘Issues’ because everybody has them. Not one person on this earth hasn’t got an issue. It’s just how we think.”

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From Contenders to Titleholders

2013 was pivotal for Jermall. He had joined Al Haymon’s stable of fighters and suddenly he had no shortage of fights. After just four bouts from 2010 to 2012, he fought seven times in 2013. Coinciding with Jermall’s increased activity was a stark increase in punching power; he had stopped just three of his first six opponents from 2008 to 2011, but his next 12 opponents didn’t make it to the final bell.

By 2014, at just 17-0, Jermall had earned himself a world title fight against Carlos Molina but it was derailed when Molina was abruptly deported to Mexico. In 2015, Jermall captured a world title by knocking out Cornelius Bundrage who had dethroned Molina in Mexico. Nobody, not even the twins themselves would have envisioned that Jermall would be the first to win a title three years prior.

Jermell, in the meantime, seemed to have hit a ceiling of fighting fellow-contenders the likes of Demetrius Hopkins, Gabriel Rosado and Vanes Martirosyen at the co-main event level. While his victories were convincing, they were less than spectacular and he found himself stuck in the too-risky-and-not-exciting-enough zone for the big names in the 154-pound division to want to face him.

It was during this period that Jermell decided to change trainers from Ronnie Shields, who had trained the twins since their pro debuts, to Dallas-based Derrick James. It marked the first time the twins had different training camps since they started boxing.

It was also Jermell’s turn to undergo a power upsurge. Under Shields, Jermell had stopped 12 of his first 26 opponents for a knockout rate of 46 percent. His record with James is 6-1, 5 KOs for a knockout rate of 71 percent.  

Jermell’s big break finally came in May 2016 when he was matched against John Jackson for a vacant alphabet belt. With an overhand right and two left hooks in the ninth round, Jermell made history as he and Jermall became the first twins to hold world titles concurrently in the same division.

While the twins strove to blaze trials of their own in the sport, they also recognized that a synergy of their combined assets was worth more than the sum of their individual parts.

“This is my legacy, that is his legacy and this is our dynasty,” Jermell told The Houston Chronicle in 2013.

Looking Ahead

Fast forward to the present and both Charlo twins are former titleholders but still very much top-shelf fighters in their respective divisions. Jermall vacated his 154-pound belt in 2017 after three title defenses to compete at middleweight where his record stands at 3-0, 2 KOs.

He had been the WBC “interim” titleholder, making him the mandatory challenger to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s belt since April 2018. But in an absurd and abrupt move on June 26, three days before Jermall’s fight with Adams, the WBC announced that Canelo had been elevated to their “Franchise Champion” and declared Jermall their “Full Champion.”

The overnight invention of a new ridiculous title and arbitrary double promotions was widely viewed as a veiled and convoluted attempt by the sanctioning body to give Canelo more wiggle room to delay or avoid facing his mandatory challenger, while paying lip service to Jermall at the same time.

“I was like, ‘where did Canelo go? If I was elevated to the world champion, where’s Canelo?’” Jermall said on hearing about the WBC’s decision. “How can he just skip me and leave the belt alone like that? Well, Canelo has a bigger belt and that’s the belt I want right now.”

The reality is, Canelo and Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin are two of the biggest draws in the sport for which every middleweight is gunning. But it makes financial sense that both are only interested in fighting each other for the biggest paychecks. Even if Jermall get past Adams on Saturday as expected, he will be nowhere closer to a coveted fight with Canelo or Golovkin since they are expected to face each other for a third time later this year.

Odd-man-out titleholder Demetrius Andrade has a title defense scheduled against Maciej Sulecki on the same night as Charlo-Adams, but a showdown between the winners of the two fights might be a tough sell as long the Canelo-Triple G rivalry still overshadows everything else in the division.

As for Jermell, the door of adversity that was slammed in his face might have opened several windows of opportunity.

He lost his title via highly controversial decision to Tony Harrison in December after three successful defenses. A rematch with Harrison was scheduled for June 23 but Harrison withdrew with an ankle injury three weeks before the fight. Cota was brought in as a last minute replacement and was subsequently blasted into oblivion in three rounds.

The Harrison rematch is expected to be rescheduled and Jermell has been emphatic that he would like nothing better than to avenge what he and most observers considered a robbery. But opportunities also loom for the 154-pound belts that do not belong to Harrison should the rematch fail to materialize.

In May, Julian Williams upset Jarret Hurd for two of the four major alphabet belts. A matchup between Jermell and Williams would be highly marketable since Williams’ only loss came at the hands of none other than Jermall via 5th round TKO in 2016.

Then there is Jaime Munguia, holder of the fourth 154-pound title. Munguia, who looked vulnerable and downright beatable in his last two bouts, has indicated that a move up to middleweight is imminent. Should that belt be vacated, who better to make a play for it than Jermell?

At the end of the day, despite how their paths have meandered, diverged and re-intertwined Jermall and Jermell Charlo remain each other’s closest confidantes, support bases and fans.  

“We both support each other and we realize how much we need each other in today’s age and everything we’re up against,” Jermall said. “We are mirror motivation instead of having any jealous or envious feelings about each other’s performance.”

Read the prediction for Charlo-Adams at:

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