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.

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The new-look Texans won't get started until September, but the Roughnecks' season is about to begin. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Without much fanfare, or seemingly any, the Houston Roughnecks are preparing for opening night of the XFL 3.0 season just a couple of weeks away.

The Roughnecks will host the Orlando Guardians, 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at TDECU Stadium on the UH campus. That’s less than a week after the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Before one pass is thrown, one run rushed, or one groin pulled, Las Vegas has set odds for the 2023 XFL season. Our Roughnecks and the Orlandos are tied for the longest odds on the board, +750. The early betting favorite is the St. Louis Battlehawks at +400.

Just a note: if you’re like Cosmo Kramer and think wagering on early-season XFL games is “some sweet action” – well, “you really need help, you need a team of psychiatrists working around the clock, thinking about you” and George Costanza.

Not surprisingly, good seats remain for opening night. Lousy seats, too. And seats in the middle.

If the Houston Texans and the all-mighty NFL couldn’t fill half of NRG Stadium, do the Roughnecks stand a prayer of drawing big crowds to TDECU Stadium?

One thing in the Roughnecks favor: affordable seats for their five home games on the XFL’s 10-game schedule. Season tickets for Roughnecks games start at $110 and go up to $480 at xfl.com. Individual game tickets, available on Ticketmaster, are $24 and higher. Reasonably priced food and drink (I kid because I love), plus an array of team merch will be available, including T-shirts ($25), baseball caps ($28-$34), sweatshirts and sweatpants ($45-$60), and bucket hats ($45).

Of course, nothing sells seats like winning. The Roughnecks were 5-0 and dominating the league last time the XFL played. That was 2020 when Covid-19 cut the season short. That was then …

This is now. Much like the Texans (as of this week), the most recognizable and popular figure on the field will be the head coach. The 2023 Roughnecks will be led by NFL veteran Wade Phillips, who has a lot of history and DNA in Houston. Quarterbacks currently on the roster are Cole McDonald from Hawaii, Kaleb Eleby from Western Michigan and Brandon Silvers from Troy State.

Most of the roster will be new names for Houston fans, although the league is bragging that 255 XFL’ers have been on NFL rosters at some point.

The Roughnecks will compete in the XFL South division along with the Arlington Renegades, Orlando Guardians and San Antonio Brahmas. That’s three out of four teams from Texas. The XFL North is comprised of the D.C. Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks and Vegas Vipers.

Every XFL game (40 regular season, two playoffs, one championship) will air somewhere across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and FX, plus streaming on ESPN+. As they say, check your local listing to find the Roughnecks.

If you think that the XFL is just “too soon,” hold on until April when the Houston Gamblers take the field for the 2023 USFL season. Although don’t get too excited about attending home games. Houston’s “home” is in Birmingham, Ala. I know, silly.

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