Championship Boxing in Houston

Charlo set for homecoming title defense Saturday

Photo courtesy of Esther Lin/Showtime Sports

Showtime Championship Boxing is live from Houston on Saturday night as WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo puts his belt on the line against challenger Brandon Adams live from NRG Arena. Charlo (28-0, 21 KO,) an Alief native, will look to defend his title for the first time, having been elevated to full-time WBC champion this week. It will be a chance for Charlo to get back on track following a lackluster performance his last time in the ring. Charlo won a unanimous decision victory over Matt Korobov in December, but wasn't particularly impressive in doing so.

The Showtime showcase is a chance for Charlo to build his brand both locally and nationally. Jermall, along with his twin brother Jermell, a former super welterweight titlist, have embraced the "wrestling heel" personna in boxing. But Jermall has also gotten the job done in the ring, scoring knockouts in five of his last seven bouts. Saturday's bout is Charlo's first fight in Houston in over seven years.

Adams (21-2, 13 KO) has won his last four fights, but the matchup against Charlo marks a big step up in competition for the relative unknown fighter hailing for Norwalk, CA. It's Adams' first 12-round fight of his career. Adams has previously fought for two secondary titles and has lost each time. Charlo has shown more power as his career has progressed and I have to imagine he sees Saturday night as an excellent chance to put on a show for his hometown fans and viewers on Showtime. I expect to see Charlo attempt to overwhelm Adams early in the fight and make him feel overmatched in his biggest test to date.

While Charlo is one of the best fighters in the 160 pound division, the politics of boxing have made it difficult for him to land a big-money fight. Of the four best middleweight fighters in the world the other three, Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Demetrius Andrade, all fight on DAZN. If Charlo wants to cross the street and make a big fight with a DAZN fighter, he'll need to continue to build his image to the point where such a fight makes financial sense for all involved. A highlight reel-knockout on Saturday night would be a nice first step.

TIM'S PREDICTION

Charlo by knockout, round four.

UNDERCARD REPORT

The televised undercard features a pair of world title eliminators. In the co-feature junior middleweight Erickson Lubin (20-1, 15 KO) takes on Zakaria Attou (29-6-2, 7 KO) for a chance to be the mandatory challenger for WBC champion Tony Harrison. Lubin has lost only once in his career; a first round knockout defeat to Jermall Charlo's twin brother Jermell. Attou is an unknown, having never previously fought in the United States.

In the opening bout of the televised card Eduardo Ramirez (22-1-3, 9 KO) faces Claudio Marrero 23-3, 17KO) for a shot at WBA featherweight champion Xu Can.

Alief native retains WBC title

Charlo scores victory in return to Houston

Photo courtesy of Showtime Sports

Jermall Charlo cruised to an easy victory Saturday night at NRG Arena in Houston, but the WBC middleweight champion could not score the knockout he was looking for. Charlo won a unanimous decision by scores of 120-108 (x2) and 119-109. SportsMap.com scored the bout 118-110 in favor of Charlo.

The Alief native looked like the bigger, stronger man from the opening bell. However Charlo (29-0, 21 KO) seemed to struggle with Adams' awkward style. Charlo consistently landed the harder, cleaner punches, but never seemed to hurt Adams (21-3, 13 KO,) who displayed an amazing chin in defeat.

The fight was a big step-up in competition for Adams, who went 12 rounds for the first time in his career. Adams looked completely overmatched at the beginning of the fight, seeming to be satisfied with merely surviving. As the fight went on Adams seemed to get more comfortable in the ring, working behind a loopy, range-finding jab to score some points despite losing most rounds.

"Of course I wanted to knock him out," Charlo said. "That's what we do. That's what we train for. I didn't get the knockout. My brother gave me and A though, so I'm happy with that."

Charlo was the main aggressor in the ring, leading Adams around and often pinning him in the corners. He was at his best when he could bully Adams into the corners and score points with body shots and uppercuts. Charlo said that he hurt his hand early in the fight, which could have been a reason for his performance.

"I've never fought with a hurt hand before. Ever. Adversity is everything," Charlo said.

After the fight Charlo talked about his desire to fight one of the big names of the middleweight division, specifically Canelo Alvarez.

"Canelo's gotta fight me sooner or later," Charlo said. "He cannot retire without fighting me."

Charlo, who is aligned with Showtime, is the only one of the four big players in the middleweight division that doesn't regularly fight on streaming service DAZN. Because of this Charlo has had difficulty getting the big fight he wants at 160 lbs.

The official attendance at NRG Arena was 6,408, announced as a sellout.


LUBIN ROLLS IN ELIMINATOR

Junior middleweight contender Erickson Lubin (21-1, 16 KO) earned a spot as the mandatory challenger for the WBC title in dismantling Zakaria Attou (29-7-2, 7 KO) via fourth a fourth round technical knockout. Lubin started the fight by feeling out Attou, who looked technically deficient compared to Lubin from the opening bell. By round two Lubin was landing flush left crosses that were pushing Attou back to the ropes.

In round four Lubin unleashed a flurry of punches that send Attou to the canvas. He beat the count and wanted to continue but his corner threw in the towel, stopping the fight. The victory means Lubin is in line to eventually face Tony Harrison for the WBC title.

MARRERO HANGS ON TO BEAT RAMIREZ

In the opening bout of the television card featherweight Claudio Marrero (24-3, 17 KO) started hot and did enough in the closing rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory over Eduardo Ramirez (22-2-3, 9 KO.) Judges scored the fight 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110, all in favor of Marrero. SportsMap.com scored the fight 115-113 for Marrero.

Marrero was the obvious aggressor early in the fight but Ramirez's grinding, inside style seemed to tire out Marrero as the fight wore on. Many rounds were close with both fighters trading many body-based combinations.



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