“Strawberry Letter 22” was the chorus of a song released in 1977 by a group called the Brothers Johnson; a popular, timeless R & B jam that resonates to this very day. Roughly 13 years later, the Brothers Charlo were born and Jermall and his one- minute younger twin sibling, Jermell, have made quite a name for themselves in the sport of boxing. The Brothers Charlo headlined Premier Boxing Champions inaugural boxing show on FOX this past Saturday, December 22nd, live from Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY. FOX heavily promoted this event during its National Football League telecasts and an ample televised viewing audience was expected, as more than 9,000 watched live in-person. In the process, the Brothers plans for leaving a sustainable legacy, like the aforementioned recording artists, ran into a bit of a snafu. What was intended to be a showcase affair shined light on some technical (yet correctable) flaws instead; a learning moment.
JERMELL CHARLO (31-1, 15 KO’s) vs. TONY HARRISON (28-2, 21 KO’s)
In what may prove to be 2018’s “Upset of the Year”, Tony Harrison unseated Jermell Charlo as WBC super welterweight title holder via 12-round unanimous decision. Harrison, who’s considered the last protégé of boxing legend and famed trainer out of Kronk Gym in Detroit, Emmanuel Steward, offered up classic orthodox counterpunching skills and an excellent jab, which troubled Charlo all night. It’s debatable if he truly did enough to relieve Charlo of his championship duties, however. Charlo pressed the action, but as Harrison’s corner recognized, everything he fired was big and hard; kill shots in other words. Some landed, most missed and all the while Harrison jabbed and landed sneaky counters. He snapped Charlo’s head back with a jab in the 4th and got his foes full attention with a 1-2 in the 5th. Jermell took everything well though, not the slightest bit of duress or discomfort and responded like a champ to Harrison’s head and body. He even wobbled Harrison late in the same round with a right hand over the top.
After 7, the FOX broadcast team had Charlo well ahead. Color analyst, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini advised he had Charlo up by 5-6 rounds and unofficial ringside judge, Larry Hazzard Sr. scored it 68-65 for Jermell. Charlo’s zest for combat led to him getting wild at times, but he was much busier than Harrison. Harrison’s jab and counters persisted, but Charlo was completely unfazed by the incoming. He briefly switched to southpaw and connected with a right hook and a left uppercut in the 10th.
There was urgency from Charlo’s corner prior to the 12th and final round. “Go get him, put the pressure on”, yelled trainer, Derrick James, and Jermell reciprocated. He hurt Harrison with a hard left and worsened Tony’s position with a right cross; the slick veteran lasted the distance though. It was a close, tactical pairing, but it seemed the defending champion had done enough to at least retain his title by way of draw, if not an outright victory. But the judges saw it differently; 116-112 and 115-113 (twice), all for Harrison. The Barclay’s crowd booed lustily, and punch-stat numbers had Charlo throwing 171 more shots, landing 32 more. Unified IBF and WBA 154-pound champion, Jarrett Hurd (who’s friendly with and KO’ed Harrison for the vacant IBF strap) felt Charlo, his nemesis, won the fight.
Charlo indicated there was a rematch clause in the contract, which he has four months to exercise, something he fully intends to do. An immediate rematch is the logical next move and Charlo is equipped to reverse fortunes, he just needs to go back to the drawing board; feint Harrison into leading, to counter Harrison’s counters and mix up the speed on his punches, as opposed to firing homerun blows exclusively.
JERMALL CHARLO (28-0, 21 KO’s) vs. MATT KOROBOV 28-2, 14 KO’s)
Jermall Charlo had the pleasure of watching his twin brother lose for the first time, minutes before his WBC interim middleweight championship bout with decorated Russian, Matt Korobov. FOX cameras showed Charlo looking at a monitor and walking away for a moment to himself, after the decision was announced. Korobov, who had an amateur record of 300-12 and a crafty southpaw style, would’ve posed problems anyways, but circumstances seemed to exacerbate matters in the Russian’s favor on this night.
Normally an aggressive, in-your-face, skilled pressure fighter, Korobov elected to counter Charlo, who (like his brother) was bringing heat from the outset. Korobov’s weapon of choice was the left cross and straight lefts, which he found a home for near the end of the 1st and several times in the next couple rounds. He countered very well and when there was an exchange of shots, Korobov traded evenly or slightly better than Charlo. After the 4th, the FOX judge had Korobov ahead 39-37 on the strength of his lead lefts and left crosses. It must be said, Jermall also exhibited a stout chin and was never reluctant in pursuing his prey.
Charlo ramped up his attack in the 6th and landed some clean rights in the next two stanzas. Korobov’s left continued to find the mark as well, but Jermall was dropping heavier, harder, more damaging blows. Just as it seemed Charlo had adjusted and minimized the southpaw strikes, Korobov went left hand crazy in the 11th; one after another, all round long. The final round was a big one for the defending champion however, who made Korobov do the “Stanky Leg” courtesy of a left hook. A flush right hand had the Russian clutching for dear life also. The verdict was unanimous for Charlo, 119-108 and 116-112 (twice). The 119-108 card was criminally inept, and one could even argue Korobov rightfully won.
This isn’t the first time Charlo has struggled with a southpaw and this propensity boils down to the placement of his feet. Too often, Jermall’s lead foot is inside the lead foot of a southpaw which places him in perfect range to be hit with lefts. If Charlo’s constantly aware of keeping his lead foot on the outside, he’ll not only be at a safer distance from his opponent’s left hand, he’ll land more of his own right-hand bombs. The marquee names at 160 have been hesitant to choose Charlo as a dance partner. Maybe this show of vulnerability will embolden Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs and others to tango with Charlo.
Now that the Brothers Charlo are both elite level fighters facing world class competition every bout, it’s probably best they not share anymore cards together. It’s a great idea in theory, but the emotional baggage of watching your sibling, especially a twin, get beaten can’t be easy to carry into the ring with you afterwards. Jermall even admitted he thought of Jermell at least once in all 12 rounds of his tussle with Korobov.