The sole certainty in life is that change will occur. Whatever tomorrow brings, be it better, or worse, it will be different.
And that baseline knowledge is helpful to remember when you are where we are in the sport of boxing, in a transition phase. Out with the old and old-ish. Floyd Mayweather retired maybe for the final time, there is talk that Manny Pacquiao might be too busy to train and scrap again. Juan Manuel Marquez, Tim Bradley, Shane Mosley, Wladimir Klitschko, and soon Miguel Cotto enter into their next stage of life, hanging up the gloves and finding new things to take up their time.
All of the afore mentioned spent decades in the realm, and had at least ten years as a name in the sport. They must be replaced. The vacuum must fill. And it will…
Two candidates to replace some of that old blood came to Barclays Center on Saturday evening, and no, they weren’t in action. The Charlo Twins hit the media center at 6 PM and chatted up fight writers, allowing us to get to know them a bit better, see them in a different context, and allow them to build on their public personas, get a sense of what it is like to get to that place they’ve hungered to travel to for so long. They have arrived, have Jermell and Jermall; no, they aren’t at the spot they will I think ultimately get to, which is maybe two steps above this station. But enough folks, in suits and on sofas, now comprehend that these two are talented, and interesting and will be on radar screens for a long spell, glowing brighter, announcing with violent urgency that they are to be reckoned with.
Now, allow a quick digression, to a most important point. Maybe, arguably, the most important thing I learned from their 40 minutes taking press queries, is how to tell them apart. Jermall, the guy fighting at 160 pounds, has a birth mark high on his forehead, on the left side. His brother Jermell, who was last seen demolishing Erickson Lubin at Barclays Center on Oct. 14, and on Showtime, does not have that birth mark….
But both have IT, or at least enough of “it” to be able to build on their skill set and personas and be “stars” in this galaxy of fight sports. First and foremost, I think, they have concussive power, and this serves them so well in this age of short attention spans, which need to be fed with compelling content or minds wander on to the next perhaps compelling image or video or sound bite. They both got the power to put guys to sleep, and thus, you need to pay attention to every second of every round they fight.
Then, they have the twin factor. C’mon now, that’s different, isn’t it? Two guys that look pretty much exactly alike are legit bad asses, threats to destruct and destroy anyone who agrees to fight them. That ain’t regular. So, they stand out in that way, and anything that helps to set yourself apart in the sea of content that assaults us all is a good thing.
Also, as I told Jermall on Saturday, watching what they do and say post-fight has become must see TV. After Jermell downed Lubin, and someone threw a chair at Jermall in the stands, Jermall addresses that fact to Jim Gray, conducting the post fight post mortem with the winner. “I’m gooooood,” Jermall bellowed (4:42 mark). “Is he OK?? Is YOU OK??”
It was kooky and fairly hilarious, to me, and so many of us in the Twittersphere. Jermall admitted to media that he feels a bit embarrassed at that hubbub and maybe wishes he had that moment back. But that sound bite stays stuck in my head, and makes me grin every time I replay it in my mind.
“I think they’re compelling young fighters in and out of the ring,” said promoter Lou DiBella, introing the Texans. Jermall, he told us, is 26-0 with 20 KOs, and comes off a stoppage win over Jorge Sebastian Heiland in Brooklyn on July 29.
Jermell, also 27, duh, is 30-0 with 15 KOs.
As referenced before, the session was illuminating, in that it helped media see them in that different light. Primarily, I’ve dealt with them both during fight weeks, and these dudes are game facers. They aren’t in cuddly mode, they aren’t loose and jokey, or set in a space in which they are in gentlemanly fashion entertaining queries with (forced) good humor. They can be curt and send the message that they’d rather be biting heads off doves or something. But on Saturday, they joked, and they smiled, both of them. Senses of humor were displayed, and we also better understood something that makes them tick. It is clear they have a rivalry. What, you thought all twins share the same brain, and ego? Nah; I’m not sure how deep it goes, but they spoke of times when they weren’t getting along as well as they are now. Not sure how much in jest that was, but I get the sense that they both want to be pound for pound aces, and both would like to be No. 1 rather than No. 2. Maybe the same thought processing is there with, say, the Klitschko brothers, but I don’t think they’d be keen to admit it.
We also learned that Jermall, rated No. 1 by the WBC, will next fight for an interim WBC middleweight title, sometime in the first quarter of 2018.
The brothers have an edge, so they bear watching. I saw it when DiBella was introing them.
Jermell said it wasn’t gonna be hard, Lou said, against Lubin.
No, I didn’t, Jermell answered, not nastily or angrily, but with a conviction that suggests an edge that could (and does) translate into the sort of intentions his punches carry.
“You had a feeling it was going to be quick, bro,” Dibella answered.
“No, I had a feeling it was going to go twelve.”
“You didn’t think it was going to go twelve,” the promoter countered.
“Yes I did,” said Jermell.
Why? Not because we ache for confrontation, but because that was not dreary and repetitive and boring and platitudinous and cliched. It wasn’t boring, and THAT is the biggest sin in this age, if you want to be known and relevant.
Jermell hopped to the mic, when both were offered the opp to make an opening statement. He said first off that they didn’t have the intention of being trash talker, who want to make waves. He was referencing the fact that Jermell got into a trash talk war with Julian “J Roc” Williams before their 2016 clash. He said he doesn’t want to get into that sort of fracas, but it happened. Then, after the fight, fans took note of the nasty swagger and chest beating post-win. Yeah, it wasn’t winning nice. It was seen as lacking in class, in some circles. “You gonna get aggressive twins,” Jermell said. The boxing world is just now BARELY getting the memo, he told us. Yes, they have a chip on each shoulder. “We holding on to that a little bit,” Jermell said.
He noted that Dibella effed up by not signing them, and Lou laughed and admitted as such.
“This was the best year in boxing for the Charlo twins,” he said. “So far,” Jermall offered.
That post-fight hubbub, that’s going to happen when people yap at them, Jermell said. He said “we running the game,” and them not getting respect is past tense. “Let’s win all the belts..I’m trying to win them all, that’s how you get paid in this sport.”
He said he wants a Showtime All Access, to spread the word on their talents, and he promised their edge will stay in place. If you hate us, “don’t even come interview me,” he said, making clear he won’t make nice, pretend to be genial, to suck up to media. “Just stay out of my lane, stay out of my way.”
Not sure he knows it, but he’s crafting a solid and legit heel persona, which will enrich him and his bro. There will be no shortage, moving forward, of people not digging their confidence and thus making sure to tune in to watch their fights, hoping they lose.
Yes, being invested in their career, in a negative way.
We also learned how Jermall came to the attention of Al Haymon. He was frustrated he wasn’t on more radar screens so he decided he’d inject himself into the mix. He went to the fight his brother was having underneath the Andre Berto-Robert Guerrero scrap. “I’m looking for this Al Haymon guy, he might be this Caucasian bald guy,” he recounted. It was November of 2012, and Jermell was 18-0. Jermall found Al, and ignored people telling him not to bug the reclusive impresario. Give me a shot, he told Haymon. Haymon did, and Jermall fought on Fox two weeks later. Point being, this wasn’t handed to him or his bro. And all parties haven’t embraced them since, either. Jermall shared that Mike Tyson talked some trash before the Jermell vs Lubin fight, implying that Erickson would be dropping the hammer on a twin. Bernard Hopkins, Jermall said, had told him he’d be getting an L against a foe. “Everybody trying to say we’re aggressive, we do this, we fight,” Jermall stated. “We fight each other! Like, I don’t like what he got on. We taking over 2018 like for real. We want you guys to have fun watching us. That’s how bad we want to do good in boxing! We used to box for free all our life, now we start getting paid, and we going to continue that.”
It was made clear these two aren’t shying away from anyone. Bring on Demetrius Andrade, both said. “I want to fight everybody in this weight class,” Jermell said of that 154 class. “I feel strongly that I’m the best 154 in the world.”
Jermall, too. Asked who he’d like first, Canelo or Golovkin, he pondered and answered, “Golokvin.”
“Canelo’s younger, I got time,” he said. “Golovkin’s on the verge of leaving boxing…I hope I get that fight, I’m ready for that fight.” David Lemieux, sure, he’s game for it, but he’s aware that politics and promotional differences sometimes make it hard to make fights that people want to see.
We also learned that Jermall isn’t keen on having his pal Erislandy Lara fighting Jermell. “This a monster..he won’t let nobody win,” Jermall said, noting that his and the Lara kids go to school together.
We got a sense that they have read all those negative stories and filed them away. “To be honest, they thought I was the lesser puncher, every time someone would mention the Charlo twins they’d say this and say Jermall is the stronger puncher. And I would sit back and be like, yeah, that’s cool. Let them keep thinking that, I’m not a puncher. I’m a boxing puncher,” Jermell said.
Yet another tidbit I picked up on; Jermell came out and said that he’s a clean fighter, and that his power is God given. I’m glad to see him get out in front of that, because yes, the age we are in, suspicion is prevalent on most everyone.
Jermall also said, “That’s the thing about the twins, twin power is better! Two times is always better, trust me!”
So, my advice is this. Get them on your radar. They are bad, they got some Tyson type snarliness, they want the stiffest tests. They’re both gooooood…..