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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: A CHARLO COMING OUT PARTY?

By Paul Magno | September 21, 2020
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: A CHARLO COMING OUT PARTY?

Jermall and Jermell Charlo produce all kinds of extreme reactions. 

To some, the fighting twins from Houston are overrated, over-hyped, and abrasive to the point of being a turn-off. Others see them as can't-miss stars and very much the "real deal."

Up until now, though, despite plenty of main event showcases and four world title reigns between them, they've been somewhat low-key divisive-- a point of discussion almost exclusively among hardcore fans, which is not exactly a good thing when fighters are looking to be next-level stars. 

In other words, they are often hot topics of conversation among boxing loyalists, but not all that much of a blip on the radar with casuals. And in a sport increasingly pushed into becoming a sub-niche of a niche, you ain't gonna break the bank, superstar-level, if you only play to the base. 

Fortunes could change drastically for the Charlos if this coming Saturday's twin-bill pay-per-view is an all-around success. 

Call them victims of themselves or victims of circumstance, but, as of right now, the march towards next-level stardom has been stalled for the brothers. 

Jermall blew past junior middleweight and to 160, where he found himself in a Terence Crawford-like situation, frozen out of the main stage by wrong-side-of-the-fence politics that kept him away from the likes of Saul Alvarez, Gennadiy Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, etc. Put into a tough spot, the only smart business options was to bide his time with lesser opponents, stay undefeated, and gradually wedge his way on to the elite money scene. This "business-smart" choice cost him tons in the area of public relations, though, and earned him negative buzz for a low level of opposition. 

Jermell, meanwhile, stayed at 154 and accounted quite well for himself-- until a shocking (and many say controversial) world title decision loss to Tony Harrison stalled his career progress. Despite grasping redemption with a stoppage of Harrison in the rematch, the damage seemed to be done. His climb to the top of the sport's collective conscious had been slowed down if not entirely stopped.

This Saturday offers both the opportunity to kick start their forward progress and resume the career momentum they had before things flat-lined a bit.

In Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Jermall is, arguably, facing his toughest, most "legit" challenge. The Ukraine-born Brooklynite is the very definition of dogged, tough, and hard-as-nails. He took Golovkin to hell and back in his last fight and deserved to get the decision. A case could also be made for him deserving the nod against Daniel Jacobs as well. 

Jermell, in his bout with Jeison Rosario, has a chance to add the IBF and WBA 154 world titles to his own WBC strap. Becoming a 3-belt champ is a big deal in a division with so much parity. Basically, it'll ensure that all money roads at junior middleweight run through him. The Dominican Republic's Rosario pretty much came out of nowhere to beat the stuffing out of Julian Williams and win the IBF and WBA belts. He's heavy-handed, brimming with confidence and definitely no joke, but the big boost for Charlo will be those belts. 

In big-picture considerations, this pay-per-view's financial success or failure will say a lot about where the Charlos actually stand on the world stage. How many buys can be expected of a $75 event headlined by the brothers during a pandemic when the economy is battered to shreds and health/safety protocol discourages fight parties? The Charlo main events are good, competitive matchups. But the question is whether they'll sell. 

Two winning performances in the ring will do a lot to help the Charlos' "street cred" among hardcore fight fans. Successfully turning a pay-per-view profit during these hard times will prove their marketability and bankability. A win in both areas proves that they are Canelo-worthy or Golovkin-worthy stars and deals should be made accordingly. 

Speaking of things PBC-related-- Erickson Lubin did nothing to elevate his star this past Saturday against Terrell Gausha on Showtime. Sure, he won the WBC title eliminator via unanimous decision and will move on to (eventually) face the winner of the Jermell Charlo-Jeison Rosario 3-belt unification bout. Technically, he'll get to where he needs to go and get that second shot at a world title.

But in assuring he got the win in the bag, he diminished his shine a bit by playing things too cautious. 

Early on, it seemed pretty clear that he could touch Gausha whenever he wanted and we all know he has the power to shake anyone he can touch. He just seemed content with doing enough to win the rounds on the scorecards and didn't want to take all that many risks along the way-- a strategy that almost backfired spectacularly when Gausha shocked his conservative mindset with a shot out of the blue that wobbled his legs in round 10.

In the end, Lubin won and will move on. If Charlo beats Rosario, a Charlo-Lubin return bout will be a fairly easy "road to redemption" fight to sell, despite (or maybe BECAUSE) Charlo stopped Lubin in the first round of their initial match. However, Lubin overlooked what many fighters overlook these days. Winning is not enough if you want to grab at that all-elusive "crossover," "next-level" stardom. 

A fighter has to create a buzz with his work in the ring, with something big and explosive to peddle to the masses. And while styles matchups don't always make that possible, it benefits you greatly to rip shit up whenever you can. Lubin could've done that on Saturday. He didn't. From a promotional perspective, every fight that doesn't "wow" is a lost opportunity to sell yourself to the fans. 

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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