Jermall Charlo vacates 154-pound title, moves to middleweight
Undefeated Jermall Charlo has vacated his IBF junior middleweight title and recently announced he is moving up in weight.
Charlo, 25-0 (19), has defended the belt three times since winning the title by stopping rugged, Detroit, Michigan-based champion Cornelius Bundrage back in 2015.
In a recent interview, the Houston, Texas-based champion said, “I’ve been thinking about moving to 160 pounds for a while now. It was a struggle for me to make the weight for the last title fight. Once I captured the title, I defended it immediately because I wasn’t sure how long I could hold the weight. I held it an extra year to fight Austin Trout and Julian Williams.”
While making the 154-pound limit was starting to take its toll on Charlo, he also felt that there were some great opportunities for him a few pounds north.
“I feel there are bigger and better things for me at 160, where I can still hold my weight and be stronger. The idea of being a two-time world champion is a big goal for me.”
Charlo knows that the biggest fights for any champion are unification bouts and, with his close friend and stablemate Erislandy Lara holding the WBA 154-pound strap and twin brother Jermell holding the WBC light middleweight title, he knew it was slim pickings for anymore title bouts in the division.
“If there were a big fight at 154 pounds left for me, I’d stick around and wait for it,” he said, “but there isn’t anything there that can be made quickly. And I wouldn’t fight my brother or my gym mate and close friend, Erislandy Lara.”
So while his business in the junior middleweight division may be over, there are some obviously exciting options for him at 160 pounds.
Undefeated middleweight king and Top 5 pound-for-pounder Gennady Golovkin currently holds the WBA “super,” WBC, IBF and IBO titles at 160 pounds; Daniel Jacobs is the WBA’s “regular” champion and Great Britain’s Billy Joe Saunders is the WBO titleholder. And a bout against any of the division’s best would certainly be something boxing fans looking for some middleweight mayhem would welcome.
“It was just time”, said Charlo trainer Ronnie Shields, a former world title challenger and now considered one of boxing’s best trainers. “(Charlo) was just so lean and it was such a struggle to get to 154 pounds. I mean, he could do it but it was a real struggle.”
Did the fact that a unification bout would have forced Jermall to fight his good friend Lara or his brother Jermell factor in the move to 160 pounds?
“No, that wasn’t really it,” said Shields with a chuckle. “I mean, Jermall has a great strength-and-conditioning coach in Danny Arnold. He knows exactly what to do and he takes off the weight properly but he does it the right way. It can take four or five months to make the weight properly and he was so lean to begin with, that there wasn’t a lot of weight to move as it is. It was just a huge struggle in his last three fights. He could have made the weight again and he would have stuck around for a fight at 154, if a (WBO titleholder) Canelo (Alvarez) or a (Miguel) Cotto fight had happened. It would have been worth it but those fights didn’t happen, so it was time to move up.”
As for what and when fight fans can expect to see Charlo’s middleweight debut, Shields said they were looking at a May or June fight.
“We are looking at May or June, more than likely for his debut at middleweight. It’s just a matter of finding the right guy. We are going to look at a Top 15 guy, find the right guy, the right fight and then we’ll go from there.”