An awkward, courageous underdog surprisingly took Jermall Charlo the distance Saturday night.
Charlo hurt Juan Macias Montiel in the fifth and sixth rounds, but a resilient Montiel survived those troublesome moments, rallied at times and made it to the final bell in a 12-round fight in which he was a huge underdog. Charlo clearly won, but his game Mexican opponent performed admirably against the heavily favored 160-pound champion in front of Charlo’s hometown fans at Toyota Center in Houston.
Judges Steve Morrow (119-109), Nathan Palmer (118-109) and Chris Tellez (120-108) all scored the fight for Charlo by huge margins. The 31-year-old Charlo went all 12 rounds for the fourth time in his past five fights.
Houston’s Charlo remained unbeaten (32-0, 22 KOs) and made the fifth defense of his WBC middleweight title in the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader. Los Mochis’ Montiel slipped to 22-5-2 (22 KOs).
“It take a real warrior to get in the ring with me,” Charlo told Showtime’s Jim Gray following his victory. “And he fought each and every round hard as he could. I could tell in his eyes that, you know, he was a true warrior from the beginning and he wanted to fight. It don’t matter what I hit him with, he said, ‘Aw, come on!’ I love that spirit. Hey, man, he gonna be great, man.”
Charlo threw a career-high 769 punches, according to CompuBox’s unofficial count, and landed 258 of those attempts. He thanked Montiel for his efforts and expressed respect for an opponent CompuBox credited for landing 127-of-427 punches.
The eventual result, a lopsided points win for the unbeaten champion, was predictable because Charlo went off as a 30-1 favorite, according to the William Hill sports book.
The 27-year-old Montiel is the WBC’s fourth-ranked contender for Charlo’s championship, but most experts expected Charlo to knock him out in part because he fought to a 10-round split draw with Hugo Centeno Jr. in December 2019. Charlo knocked out Centeno in the second round of their scheduled 12-round fight for the WBC interim middleweight title in April 2018.
By the championship rounds, though, it became apparent that the determined Montiel would last all 12 rounds.
Charlo mostly fought off his back foot in the 12th round, when a confident Montiel continued to press the action. Montiel couldn’t hurt Charlo, who landed two hard right hands as that final round came to an end.
Montiel was the aggressor again in the 11th round and somehow seemed to have more snap on many of his punches than the champion at that point in their fight. With just over 20 seconds to go in the 11th round, Montiel landed a left hook to the body and came up top with a left uppercut.
Montiel landed a left hook and a left uppercut just before the halfway mark of the 10th round. Charlo continued to take Montiel’s hardest punches without incident, but Montiel came forward and wasn’t affected by Charlo’s best shots in that round, either.
Montiel seemed to land a low left hand that forced Charlo to hold him about a minute into the ninth round. Charlo lost his footing and slipped to the canvas about 20 seconds later.
Charlo clipped Montiel with a hard right hand with just under 50 seconds to go in the ninth round.
A left uppercut and straight left by Montiel made Charlo take a step backward with just over 50 seconds on the clock in the eighth round. Charlo wasn’t hurt, however, and continued to throw power punches at his game challenger.
Though the eighth round seemingly amounted to Montiel's best three minutes of their bout, Charlo remained in control. Charlo suffered the first cut of his career in the eighth round, a small laceration above his right eye.
After hurting Montiel in the fifth and sixth rounds, Charlo controlled the action and landed the harder punches in the seventh round. A left-right combination by Charlo made Montiel reset his feet with 15 seconds to go in that round.
A right hand by Charlo buzzed Montiel about 35 seconds into the sixth round. For a second straight round, Charlo tried to knock out his vulnerable opponent with more than two full minutes remaining in it.
Charlo’s left hook hurt Montiel again with about five seconds to go in the sixth round. A battered, exhausted Montiel held Charlo as the bell to end the sixth round sounded.
He trapped Montiel in a corner and unloaded power punches on Montiel, who eventually fired hard shots of his own back at Charlo.
Charlo’s right hand made Montiel stumble 30 seconds into the fifth round. The champion knew Montiel was hurt and tried to finish him, but Montiel withstood Charlo’s barrage of power punches.
Charlo caught Montiel with a flush left hook with 50 seconds to go in the fifth round, but Montiel took that shot well.
Schorle warned Montiel for a low blow just before the halfway point of the fourth round. Charlo and Montiel both landed right hands with just over 40 seconds to go in the fourth round.
An overhand right by Charlo landed with about 15 seconds on the clock in the fourth round.
Charlo’s right hand landed 30 seconds into the third round, with Montiel backed into the ropes. Montiel snapped back Charlo’s head with a straight left just after the midway mark of the third round.
They each landed power shots during an exchange shortly thereafter, but Charlo’s two left uppercuts and overhand right were the most impactful punches in it.
They exchanged again toward the end of the third round, when Montiel landed a left to Charlo’s body and a left-right combination to his head.
Charlo’s right to the body landed barely 10 seconds into the second round. Montiel changed stances again in the second round, as he tried to confuse Charlo.
Charlo landed another right to Montiel’s body with just over 20 seconds to go in the second round. Charlo caught Montiel with a left hook just before the second round ended as well.
The awkward Montiel approached Charlo from various stances and angles during the first round, but he had trouble connecting with clean punches on the focused, deliberate champion. Montiel managed to sneak in a short, left hook with just under 10 seconds to go in the opening round, though.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.