In most boxing circles it’s as if things are pretty much settled in the middleweight division, and it’s just a matter of who comes out on top this coming September 16th. Yes, the winner of the title bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 49-1-1 (34) and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin 37-0 (33) will be assumed to be the fighter who reigns atop the food chain among boxing’s elite 160-pounders…..or maybe not. Most of the air concerning boxing has been consumed with the upcoming Mayweather-McGregor whatever you chose to call it, and the Alvarez-Golovkin bout both scheduled to happen within the next 60 days.
However, the biggest fight on the schedule before the money grab on August 26th takes place this weekend at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York between former four division title holder Adrien Broner and three division title holder and current WBC lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia. In the semi wind-up before Broner-Garcia, former IBF junior middleweight champ and current top middleweight contender Jermall Charlo 25-0 (19) will square off against Jorge Heiland 29-4-2 (16) in a WBC title eliminator. Heiland has defeated the likes of Matthew Macklin, Claudio Ariel Abalos, and Cesar Reynoso, but all but four of his 35 fights have taken place in Argentina. And as most know, most fighters from there are tough and known for their strength and willingness to fight it out.
On paper that serves Charlo well, because he’s not the type of fighter, due to his power, that it is smart to move straight into. What it will say for Charlo if he beats Heiland, 30, we can’t say for sure. Heiland is a southpaw who has never been stopped, but who also has never had a fighter in front of him as skilled as Jermall Charlo. There just aren’t many of those around throughout the world, never mind Argentina.
Ronnie Shields, Charlo’s trainer, has stated that Heiland is a more dangerous opponent for Charlo than oddsmakers and media and fans think. Heiland has won eight consecutive fights since he last lost a majority decision to Mateo Damian Veron in June 2013 in Buenos Aires. Since the setback, Heiland stopped Veron in a rematch and then in his last bout stopped him again in their rubber match. Heiland’s most notable win came against Matthew Macklin in November of 2014, who he KO’d in the 10th round, nearly a year and a half after multiple belt holder Gennady Golovkin stopped Macklin in three rounds.
The winner between Charlo and Heiland will be the WBC’s mandatory for the Alvarez-Golovkin winner. Call it a hunch, but based on the right hands I saw Macklin land on Heiland during their bout, I expect Charlo to have even more success landing them. The question for me is – will Charlo defeat Heiland by stoppage or decision? I say Charlo wins by stoppage and then makes his case for fighting whoever holds the middleweight championship when the sun rises on the morning of Sunday, September 17th.
For the last year or so the boxing world has been obsessed with seeing Canelo and Golovkin face each other, as if no other boxers campaigning between 154-160 existed. During that time frame, Canelo defeated Amir Khan (too small and lacks big time whiskers), Liam Smith (a junior middleweight who is perhaps barely a regional contender), and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who took the fight to insure he shouldn’t ever have to worry about party money again. During the same period Golovkin bullied Kell Brook, the IBF welterweight titlist, and then won a close decision over Daniel Jacobs, with the knockdown he scored in the sixth round being the difference on my scorecard.
Compared to Charlo…..Khan, Smith, Chavez and Brook are a walk in the park. Jacobs not so much; he nearly beat Golovkin and in the eyes of most objective fans would be even money if he were to fight Canelo. With Canelo and Golovkin getting all the attention, Charlo has gone somewhat under the radar…..but he is a real threat to beat either of them. Go ahead and look over the career record of both guys; neither has defeated a fighter as skilled or as hard punching as Charlo.
In some ways Charlo is a little bit bigger version of Errol Spence Jr. who fights out of a conventional stance. At 6-0 he’s tall and rangy, and not only can he punch with both hands, but he’s fast and puts his punches together terrifically. Charlo is also hungry and cocky, but in a way that’s beneficial to a fighter. He’s the type who will look both Canelo and Golovkin in the eye at center ring on the night they fight and project himself as the alpha male between them.
If you couple Charlo’s power, size and speed, he presents a few hurdles for Canelo and Golovkin stylistically.
For Canelo, his length and speed would be troublesome. Both are good at counter-punching but the one with the quicker hands gets there first with more. Charlo can also lead because he has a terrific jab, a punch Canelo has trouble with, as evidenced in his recent bouts against Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan. Charlo also exhibits sound basics and fundamentals, and those fundamentals would force Canelo to have to open up more in order for him to get through and score.
Yes, Charlo sometimes gets complacent and doesn’t get off enough – but if Canelo is really pitching at him, Jermall will have no choice but to open up more and the trading would favor him. In a head-to-head confrontation with Canelo, Charlo’s athleticism and overall versatility would aide him in a big way. Canelo lacks foot speed and footwork if he’s forced to pick his feet up and either pivot or reset. It’s plausible Charlo could be a stumbling block for Canelo, regardless of whether he is forced to box him or fight it out and trade with him.
In a clash with Golovkin, Charlo again has the tools to get the job done and the edge he walks around with won’t hurt. Golovkin, like Canelo, is sometimes tripped up by the jab. While he was fresh, Kell Brook was able to keep Golovkin off of him, but GGG’s size and strength wore him down. The strain of trying to box Gennady and move at the same time eventually slowed him and thus he was forced to exchange more than he wanted to. Danny Jacobs also had success jabbing and moving against Golovkin, but being a big middleweight and not spotting GGG size and strength, enabled him to maintain his movement and work rate. Charlo has a better jab than Jacobs and keeps his opponents off balance with it……and a bigger right hand behind it that he could have success walking GGG into as the bout progressed.
Sure, in order for Charlo to put a little hurt on GGG and impede his aggression, he’d no doubt have to stand in harm’s way and take a few, but from what I’ve seen he seems to have a solid chin and won’t wilt as soon as Golovkin touches him with something meaningful. And lastly, I’ve noticed Golovkin tends to swell and Charlo is a sharpshooter and that could also be a factor in determining the outcome.
Jermall Charlo just turned 27 in May and seems to be flowering as a fighter physically. He has the style and skill set that spells a lot of trouble for both Canelo and Golovkin….and in actuality he has more tools to match up with Canelo than does Golovkin. If Golovkin can’t wreak havoc on Canelo physically, he’s probably going to lose. Conversely, Charlo could go about beating Canelo under a few different scenarios.
Everyone is assuming supremacy in the middleweight division will be decided between Canelo and Golovkin this coming September. Maybe, and then again, maybe not. Jermall Charlo has the needed physical equipment and self-confidence to best both, but he’ll only need to beat one of them to establish himself as the alpha fighter in the division.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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