Jermall Charlo came in overweight Friday for a fight in his hometown, where distractions can take a fighter’s focus from the task at hand.
The WBC middleweight champion promised, however, that he hasn’t taken the huge underdog he’ll face Saturday night lightly. Charlo is consistently listed as a 33-1 favorite over Juan Macias Montiel, yet that didn’t prevent him from preparing properly for their 12-round, 160-pound championship match at Toyota Center in Houston.
“I’m not overlookin’ him because every fighter want the belt,” Charlo said. “They hungry. I remember being no champion. I wanted the belt. I’m like that now. I’m hungry to get even more belts, even bigger and stronger. … I’m not sleepin’ on nobody. Nobody. You know what I’m sayin’? I’m ready.”
The 31-year-old Charlo initially weighed 160.4 pounds Friday. Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) eventually returned to the scale to weigh in exactly at the middleweight maximum of 160 for their Showtime Championship Boxing main event (9 p.m. EDT; 6 p.m. PDT).
Mexico’s Montiel made weight on his first attempt, when he stepped on the Texas Combative Sports Program’s scale at 159.5 pounds.
Montiel’s 22 victories all have come by knockout. He has four losses, including a second-round knockout defeat to Jaime Munguia, and two draws on his record as well, but Charlo considers Montiel a dangerous challenger.
“Look, I put my life on the line,” Charlo said. “You know? Every time I get in the ring, I put my life on the line. I didn’t overlook this dude. He’s [got] 22 knockouts, 22 wins. That’s all he livin’ off of. That’s what he think, that, ‘Oh, I train harder.’ You train harder. I train way harder. Like, that’s how I feel about it. Like, I’m ready. I’m in shape. This fight gonna be crazy. Let him come at me like he thinking, you know, ‘Oh, Jermall Charlo. Everybody calling me the underdog.’
“You wasn’t the underdog in the Kirkland fight. Kirkland? I was like, ‘Oh, he gonna knock Kirkland out.’ I knew it. He’s done. He’s washed. You know what I’m saying? Centeno? Man, I fought Centeno. ‘Maybe this gonna be a good fight. I don’t know.’ Y’all had a draw. That was a good fight. Y’all both was hittin’ each other like – it’s hit and don’t get hit. If you come at me like that, I’m tellin’ you right now … I’m tellin’ you. I’m like that.”
Montiel knocked Kirkland (34-3, 30 KOs) to the canvas three times on his way to a first-round knockout December 26 in Los Angeles. A year earlier, Montiel fought Centeno (27-3-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC) to a 10-round split draw in Ontario, California.
Charlo knocked out Centeno in the second round to win the WBC interim middleweight title in April 2018 in Brooklyn. The former IBF junior middleweight champ still hasn’t been involved in the higher-profile fights he wants, yet Charlo realizes he cannot afford to slip up against an opponent on Montiel’s level.
“I’m still young in my career,” Charlo said. “I’ve got no chance to make a mistake. So, if I make a mistake with this guy, then it’s like, ‘Oh, Jermall Charlo don’t deserve this, don’t deserve that.’ I know he comin’ with fire.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.