Jermall Charlo said what most fighters in his position say.
“I’m thinking one fight at a time,” he said on a media conference call last week.
Since he announced his move to middleweight, it’s hard to ignore the big-fight possibilities for Charlo. Those potential fights are precisely why he abandoned his junior middleweight title for the 160-pound ranks.
Before he will allow himself to think about such opportunities, Charlo has a bit of business before him on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Charlo (25-0, 19 KOs) makes his middleweight debut against Argentina’s Jorge Sebastian Heiland (29-4-2, 16 KOs) in the main undercard bout on the Adrien Broner-Mikey Garcia Showtime card. The WBC has sanctioned the Charlo-Heiland bout a title-fight eliminator.
“I’m ready to steal the show and put on a great show,” said Charlo, who is from Houston, Texas.
If Charlo wins, he would be the mandatory WBC challenger for the winner of the unification fight between Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez fight, which takes place September 16. In addition to that, lucrative fights against Daniel Jacobs, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin or David Lemieux could await him.
“I’m at the top of my game right now,” Charlo said. “Moving forward at 160 pounds, I feel like this where I should have been the whole time. So now the pressure is on me to look good and perform good.”
At 6-foot, the move up in weight was somewhat expected. But can he carry his power to middleweight? With 17 of his last 19 wins ending inside the distance, Charlo’s power is what makes him a potential star.
“The power he showed in his most important win, last time out against Julian Williams, suggested he will carry his punch as he moves up in weight,” Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood said. “The winner of the Golovkin-Canelo fight is going to need some legitimate challengers, and Jermall can be at the head of the list.”
Charlo, 27, dominated the junior middleweight division, winning the IBF title in 2015 and making three successful title defenses. His twin brother Jermell is the WBC champion, so a unification bout between the brothers was out of the question. The same goes for WBA champion Erislandy Lara, as he and Charlo are both trained by Ronnie Shields.
Added Farhood: “This might seem insignificant, but it’s not: By moving up to middleweight and fighting in a different division than his world titlist twin brother Jermell, Jermall begins to separate himself and forge his own identity.”
In perhaps Charlo’s biggest, and closest fight, he won a unanimous decision over veteran former champion Austin Trout.
“I felt I did everything at that time to be the best at 154 pounds,” Charlo said. “I’m at the top of my game right now. I’m actually more focused on beating Heiland than I’ve probably been even in fighting Trout. This is a new Jermall Charlo who’s better, bigger, faster and stronger. It’s my job to show everyone that on Saturday night. Hopefully my performance in this fight will get me more notice from those big names and get me those fights.”