The War Report: Antimatter (Week 41, 2017)
In the moment, there was no clear indication as to what exactly happened but evidence of what did occur was the short-circuited body of the 22-year-old contender lying on the canvas. Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin found himself there, Saturday night, in the opening round of his first world title shot – not completely knocked out but trying to will an unresponsive bag of bones with a nervous system scrambled by the right hand of Jermell Charlo.
“They was giving him a lot of attention,” Charlo told Showtime’s Jim Gray in the post-fight interview, regarding his latest victim. “Running around with cameras. There was all this other BS and all that and I was quiet the whole time.”
Rarely have post-fight interviews and press conferences been reticent when there’s been a Charlo involved lately and, on the floor of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, the trend continued as Jermell’s twin brother Jermall was attacked with a folding chair. (He was OK.)
“I actually saw it – they threw a chair at my brother,” said Charlo. “You know, it’s not our fault that we get in the gym and we work hard. We train hard and we believe in ourself.”
In his second defense of the WBC junior middleweight title, Charlo, 30-0 (15), delivered his third brutal knockout in a row, since winning the belt in May of 2016 and, much like his brother’s knockout win last December over Julian Williams, the heated aftermath stemmed from the pre-fight ballyhoo of an untested contender facing reality at the hands of a duo who weren’t always taken seriously. Normally, for anyone wanting to be anyone out of Houston, Texas, you either sign with famed boxing manager James Prince or get lost in the irrelevant black hole of Space City. In the case of these twin fighters from the rough-and-rugged Alief suburb, both had different journeys until signing with Al Haymon in early 2014.
In Jermell’s case, he turned pro first and was signed to Golden Boy Promotions. Under their banner, he was quietly developed further than his brother (who is one minute older) with useful experience match-ups against Francisco Santana, Denis Douglin, Dashon Johnson and Gabriel Rosado within his first 23 fights. He was even slated to fight for a world title in early 2014 before then-IBF beltholder Carlos Molina’s arrest on fight week had Jermell waiting another two years for the opportunity. During that time, Premier Boxing Champions was founded and, with the PBC heavily showcasing the Charlos, the negative reception of the gimmicky outlet may have rubbed off on them. Their “Lions Only” rallying cry was eye-rolled, their fashion forward poise compared to Milli Vanilli, making their intensity seem contrived and rarely were they even bothered to be differentiated.
As unfair as it was, overlooked was the fact that these two were being groomed by a great trainer in Ronnie Shields all along and, although Jermell has had Derrick James in his corner for the past two years, (which brings constant sparring with another protege of his, IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr.), the Charlos are an intriguing pair. Pitting either one in the ring with any top man in the junior middleweight and middleweight divisions is not only a big fight but a dangerous one for the other guy (Jermall made his 160-pound debut last July after defending the IBF junior middleweight title three times). And even though Premier Boxing Champions is still a thing, despite having its own current identity crisis, Jermell and Jermall Charlo have certainly made themselves known individually but don’t expect to get one without the other on their respective fight nights.
What you can expect, in and around those nights, is the intense disposition from the two, as they continue to further a mindset that the world is against them. Whether they spur it on or not, the negativity surely does seem to follow them, as if they were some sort of antimatter in the boxing universe. But the Charlos have been able to channel it into something positive, for their sake, and, as long as it’s working, why should they ever change?
“Keep Runnin’ Ya Mouth” is a saying out of Houston that was directed at Lubin all week and Jermell said it one last time in the same post-fight interview. Gray mentioned how things got personal and Jermell responded, “That’s not my fault. I was cool; I was chilling. They said they was gonna come and take my title – something that I put my life on the line for, something that my kid loves – I had to defend it.”
In closing, Gray wanted a detailed answer from Jermell, as to who is next on his radar and the 27-year-old was already riled up before giving him a name that would not only conjure an explosive unification fight for the future but be a play on words to the notion that the Charlos have solidified their voices.
“Give me another title. I want (Jarrett) Hurd,” said Charlo, evoking the name of the current IBF junior middleweight titleholder. “Hurd just fought; he just won. Give me Hurd! I want Hurd! Come out that locker room!”