By Jake Donovan
The biggest complaint among the cult following for twin brothers Jermall and Jermell Charlo is that they’ve yet to headline a Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) telecast in primetime.
While that problem will be resolved for at least one of the two in their next ring appearance, the next batch of complaints will come in their respective opponents.
Photo Credit: Jermell Charlo Twitter Account
The unbeaten twins will defend their separate alphabet titles on a December 22 edition of PBC on Fox, live from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Jermall Charlo will make the first defense of his interim middleweight strap as he faces Willie Monroe Jr. Meanwhile, Jermell Charlo attempts the fourth defense of his 154-pound belt versus Tony Harrison.
A coin toss will determine which Charlo gets to headline the primetime doubleheader, which will kick off the rebranded model of PBC’s renewed three-year deal with Fox.
The show had promised to make a big splash given the renewed deal, but—beyond the prospect of seeing both Charlos on the same card (and one in the main event)—neither bout really moves the needle.
Even though he only holds an interim version of the World Boxing Council (WBC) title, Jermall (27-0, 21KOs) remains in a favorable position given all of the recent movement in the middleweight division. The 28-year old from Houston, Texas moved up from super welterweight (154 lbs.), where he’d held a title for nearly two years prior to vacating ahead of his July ’17 stoppage win over a hobbled Jorge Heiland.
The win—which took place at Barclays Center, where he will now make his third straight appearance—was supposed to guarantee Charlo a crack at the winner between Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in their Sept. ’17 clash. However, the bout ended in a controversial draw, leading to what was supposed to be an immediate rematch.
Charlo wound up fighting for and winning an interim title in a stoppage victory over Hugo Centeno this past April. By that point, the Alvarez-Golovkin rematch had already been postponed until September, with Alvarez taking a decision win. At its annual convention in early October, the WBC granted Alvarez an optional fight while ordering Charlo-Golovkin in a bout to determine the next mandatory challenger to the full title.
Obviously that fight won’t materialize next, if ever at all.
Golovkin—beltless for the first time since 2010—is currently fielding offers both in the ring and the platform which will broadcast his next fight. It’s obvious a December showdown with Charlo was a non-starter on his end, leaving PBC brass to keep its client busy.
A title defense versus Monroe Jr. provides that very opportunity, though is a bit of a letdown given how much attention has been afforded the division just in recent weeks.
Monroe Jr. (28-3, 6KOs) figured to surface in a significant event under PBC, which has housed his last two bouts. The veteran contender from upstate New York—who will turn 32 just ahead of fight night—is coming off of a 10-round decision over Javier Maciel in August, his second straight win following a 12-round loss to then-unbeaten titlist Billy Joe Saunders last September.
The bout—which was painfully tough to watch—marked his second failed attempt at a middleweight crown. He parlayed his ESPN2 Boxcino Middleweight Tournament crowning into a lucrative May ’15 crack at Gennady Golovkin, suffering three knockdowns en route to a 6th round stoppage defeat live on HBO.
Surrounding the title fights are respectable wins over Brandon Adams (in the aforementioned Boxcino finals), Brian Vera and Gabriel Rosado.
Jermell Charlo (31-0, 15KOs) has emerged as a cult favorite over the course of his title run. The 28-year old had to rally from way behind in stopping John Jackson to win his portion of the 154-pound crown in May ’16, the win going in the history books as he and Jermall became the first twins in boxing history to simultaneously hold major titles in the same weight division.
Whereas Jermall has moved up the scale, Jermell has punched his way to the top of the division. Highlight-reel knockout wins over Charles Hatley and previously unbeaten Erickson Lubin both made their way to several 2017 year-end awards lists, the latter marking his 5th consecutive stoppage win.
A close-but-clear points win over former titlist Austin Trout this past June ended that streak, but put Jermell alongside Jarret Hurd—whom outpointed Erislandy Lara in their unification bout on that same card—as the best 154-pound boxers in the world.
PBC brass along with the fine folks at Showtime—the industry-leading premium cable outlet who has invested heavily in the 154-pound division—have not at all been shy about the prospect of Charlo and Hurd colliding in a bout to determine the super welterweight king. However, both sides have steadily acknowledged that such a fight wasn’t likely until 2019 as Hurd is rebounding from rotator cuff surgery.
Much like his twin, Jermell was forced to realize that seeking bigger game would have to give way—for now—to remaining active.
Enter Harrison (27-2, 21KOs), once high among the most lauded prospects under the PBC umbrella. The Detroit-bred middleweight has since fallen to middle-of-the-pack contender, suffering knockout losses to Willie Nelson and Hurd on the undercard of high-profile events.
The defeat to Nelson—in which he was winning every round before falling apart late—came in the chief support to PBC’s first primetime card on ESPN in July ’15. A modest three-fight win streak followed, leading to his first career title fight.
A Feb. ’17 clash with Hurd aired live on Fox in primetime, as the co-feature to Deontay Wilder’s heavyweight title-defending stoppage win over Gerald Washington. Harrison was competitive until he wasn’t, with Hurd coming on strong late in scoring a 9th round stoppage to claim the vacant title.
Harrison has rebounded with a pair of wins including narrowly outpointing Ishe Smith this past May on Bounce TV. His forthcoming showdown with Charlo will mark his second crack at a major title.
Meanwhile, one of the Charlos will get the honor of headlining their first PBC primetime event. Both have topped the bill in lesser advertised cards, Jermell on a Halloween ’15 edition of PBC on NBC Sports and Jermall in his first defense of his 154-pound title on a Nov. ’15 afternoon installment of PBC on NBC.
They’ve since fought a combined eight times, all of which have aired live on Showtime-televised undercards. Included among the lot was the last time they appeared on the same show—in May ’16, a card that was topped by Lara’s 12-round win over Vanes Martirosyan.
Now, their only competition for top billing on the marquee is each other. Sadly, the forthcoming coin-toss to determine such status is perhaps more enticing to boxing fans than either matchup on the announced show.