LAS VEGAS – Jermell Charlo assured anyone concerned about his career-long 16-month layoff entering the biggest fight of his career that he’ll be as sharp as possible Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
In fact, Charlo doesn’t even believe ring rust is a legitimate thing in boxing. The undisputed 154-pound champion explained to a group of reporters following a press conference Wednesday at MGM Grand to promote his showdown with Canelo Alvarez why boxers can remain at their best even if a long time elapses between their fights.
“I’ve never had a concern about sharpness and readiness,” Charlo said, “no ring rust or none of that kind of stuff because that don’t exist in boxing for real. That only exist in [the minds of] writers because they don’t get to see us often. So, a writer would consider us not active or whatever they wanna say.”
Charlo’s long break between bouts has been caused primarily by the two fractures he suffered in his left hand during a sparring session a few days before last Christmas. That incident caused the postponement and eventually the cancellation of his WBO-mandated junior middleweight title defense against Australia’s Tim Tszyu (23-0, 17 KOs).
The Houston native’s hand injury required rehabilitation, not surgery. Rather than rescheduling his fight with Tszyu, Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) understandably accepted this higher-profile, lucrative opportunity to move up two weight classes to challenge Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) for the Mexican superstar’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO super middleweight titles.
The 33-year-old Charlo hasn’t fought since he knocked out Argentina’s Brian Castano in the 10th round of their rematch in May 2022 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Charlo has a history, however, of performing well when he ends a long layoff.
His knockout of Castano (17-1-2, 12 KOs) in their rematch came almost 10 months after they fought to a 12-round split draw in their first fight, which took place in July 2021 at AT&T Center in San Antonio. Charlo hadn’t fought in more than nine months when he knocked out Jeison Rosario in the eighth round of their title unification fight in September 2020 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Three years earlier, Charlo viciously knocked out Charles Hatley in the sixth round of their April 2017 bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He hadn’t boxed in 11 months before his right hand knocked Hatley cold.
Those types of results have encouraged Charlo to dismiss those that harp on the negative impact inactivity has on fighters’ performances.
“Where the ring rust come from?,” Charlo said. “I mean, how can you be ring-rusted whenever you been sparring and training and bustin’ yo ass and puttin’ all that hard, gritty, nitty work in? How could you say that you ring-rusted? That’s an excuse. That’s an excuse that they’re using to justify the bad performance.”
The confident Charlo can become just the second male boxer in the four-belt era to fully unify titles in two weight classes by beating Alvarez. Terence Crawford and Claressa Shields are the only two boxers to accomplish that feat since the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO belts all attained widespread recognition.
Alvarez is consistently listed as a 4-1 favorite to beat Charlo in their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event (8 p.m. EDT; 5 p.m. PDT; $84.99).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.