LAS VEGAS – There was a period of time when critics wondered when Jermell Charlo would get a big fight.
The 33-year-old certainly has one this weekend, against Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas on Saturday at the T-Mobile, but even he seemed to acknowledge that there had been a frustrating spell in his career as he built towards this.
“They doubted the fact that I was ready for this particular moment and now that I am ready for this moment at whatever age it is, I’ve accepted it,” Charlo said. “Don’t ever think about the past or what it could have been. I think the people that was operating and handling my boxing at that time, they weren’t handling it the right way, and now I’m handling my own shit – I’m lions only – and I’m fighting the biggest fighter in the world.”
Charlo has the opportunity to change his life on Saturday and he has been calm through the fight week events.
But it is one thing having the chance, it is another thing making the most of it.
“It means a lot to be able to get this opportunity at this moment in my life,” Charlo said. “Being able to capitalise on it means even more.”
It is something he has been ready for and the Mexican superstar has been on his radar for over a decade.
“I’ve been watching Canelo since he came out the gate with [Oscar] De La Hoya, when De La Hoya put his bread behind him and he made his move, I watched him,” Charlo admitted. “He was already the guy.”
Charlo is jumping up two weight classes to take on Canelo. The Mexican is often the man who holds the cards at the negotiating table, which is probably why he has a rematch clause, and Charlo admits the leap is physically and logistically a challenge.
“Moving up in weight isn’t easy, just like moving down isn’t,” he said. “Making the weight shouldn’t be an issue. It feels good. I kind of feel it but I kind of don’t. You’ve still got to work to make it and come in on weight.”
Charlo revealed that he would like to write a No. 1 bestseller about his time in boxing, and said he did have respect for not just what Canelo had achieved in boxing but what he has done in Mexico and in the community.
Still, that will count for nought on Saturday in Charlo’s mind, because he fully believes that if he upsets Canelo on Saturday, he will become the No. 1 fighter in the sport.
Not only that, but he will put himself into another financial stratosphere.
“My life changed after I had my son, Jermell Charlo Jr,” Charlo continued. “I have an older child, but after I had my last child I felt like my life changed. Yes, boxing did change my life and I’ve made it this far, I’m content, I’m satisfied, and I love boxing. If it wasn’t for the love I have for the sport, and having that warrior that’s in me, that dog, that lion that I speak on, I would have looked at this fight like, ‘Canelo, come down [in weight]. Come meet at a certain weight.’ And I gave you what y’all wanted, the fans, the media, the world. A lot of people want to see Charlo fight him and I didn’t know that my brother would ever be ready so when that Charlo named got mentioned and caught up, why not me? I can step in and be that guy, so I put that on my back.”
A knock on Charlo leading into this bout is that he has not fought in 16 months and that inactivity could play a part in the outcome of Saturday’s fight. He was adamant that ring rust would only ever be an excuse, and that he is ready to go. Not only that, but he hasn’t had the same physical toll on his body as more active fighters.
“I’m preserved, baby,” he smiled.