Charlo is a champion

Photo credit: Emily Harney

Photo credit: Emily Harney

 

On the seventh anniversary of his professional debut, Jermall Charlo won the IBF junior middleweight title in very impressive fashion by stopping tough veteran Cornelius “K9” Bundrage in three rounds. While Bundrage came in as the experienced titlist, a calm, cool and collected Charlo, in his first turn under the spotlight at the big dance, used a measured attack to stop the Detroit-based former champion.

 

Charlo, 22-0 (17), who dethroned Bundrage, 34-6 (19), last Saturday afternoon at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., dropped his opponent in rounds one and two and twice in the third before the bout was waved off. Charlo, trained by former world title contender Ronnie Shields in Houston, Texas, came into the fight with questions regarding how he would respond in his first title fight against a fighter like Bundrage. However, it was Charlo who looked liked the relaxed veteran as he stuck to, and executed, his game plan throughout the fight.

 

Before the bout, Shields had expressed Charlo’s need to “stick to the things that got him here, stay relaxed and focused on the game plan and he has to work off his jab.” However, knowing what to do and being able to do it (in the pressure of a televised world title fight) can be two very different scenarios. However, the 25-year old Charlo showed remarkable poise and focus from the opening bell, keeping his eyes on the prize and following his coach’s instructions to the letter.

 

Before the bout, the experience factor came into question as Charlo, while unbeaten and impressive since turning pro back in 2008, hadn’t faced the quality of opposition of the well-tested Bundrage. However, it quickly became very clear that Charlo wasn’t a young, green prospect who had been thrown into deep waters too soon, not at all. Working off of a measured jab, strong, solid body shots and hard counters, a focused, relaxed and very impressive Charlo took the muscular Bundrage to school, never really allowing him to gain any momentum in the fight.

 

Despite being 42 years of age, Bundrage came into the fight in excellent shape. The former champ was looking to walk down the younger Charlo, imposing his considerable upper body size on him and then deliver some damage in close quarters. However, Charlo seemed to have an answer each time K9 pressed the attack. Using his strong jab as a measuring stick, Charlo landed hard, counter shots that ultimately dropped and stopped the 41-fight veteran. Every time Bundrage got in close after working his way past the jab, he was met with a thunderous counter shot for his efforts. Those power shots, along with some nice, hard body work seemed to quickly take a cumulative toll on Bundrage.

 

The win certainly drew rave reviews from Premier Boxing Champions ringside commentators Marv Albert, BJ Flores and Sugar Ray Leonard.

 

Hall-of-Famer Leonard who knows a thing or two about winning world titles, commented on Charlo’s effort after the fight, saying, “Wow, I’m very impressed. That was a great, great performance.”

 

The authoritative showing will open all kinds of doors among the elite at 154 pounds for the new Houston-based champion but, for now, I’m guessing one-half of the fighting Charlo twins just wants to relax and enjoy being a world champion.

 

“I’m the champion of the world, baby! Of the world! I’m the champion of the world,” Charlo exclaimed in his post-fight interview. “I couldn’t ask for nothing better. I feel good.”

 

 

Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at bill.tibbs@ucnlive.com and you can follow him at twitter.com/tibbs_bill.

 

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