Six of the top boxers in the loaded 154-pound division … fighting for three world titles … all on one night under one roof in Las Vegas? Talk about a jackpot for fight fans.
In one of the most intriguing fight cards of the year, reigning champions Erislandy Lara and Jermall Charlo will put their titles on the line in separate bouts May 21 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (Showtime, 9 p.m./6 p.m. PT). Additionally, Charlo’s twin brother, Jermell, will battle for a vacant 154-pound title in his first world championship opportunity.
Headlining the action will be Lara (22-2-2, 13 KOs) and Vanes Martirosyan (36-2-1, 21 KOs) in what will be a rematch of their November 2012 title-elimination fight that ended in a technical draw after nine rounds. Prior to the main event, Jermall Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs) will make the second defense of his title against former 154-pound champion Austin Trout (30-2, 17 KOs), while Jermell Charlo (27-0, 12 KOs) is set to square off against hard-hitting contender John Jackson (20-2, 15 KOs).
In their first meeting, Lara and Martirosyan were locked in a tight battle when Martirosyan suffered a cut over his left eye because of an accidental headbutt shortly after Round 9 began. When Martirosyan was unable to continue, the bout went to the scorecards, with one judge having Lara ahead by three points, another having Martirosyan ahead by a point and the third scoring it a draw.
After the draw with Martirosyan, Lara went on to win an interim world title in his next bout, scoring a 10th-round TKO of Alfredo Angulo in June 2013, followed six months later by a unanimous decision over Trout. Lara then met Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at 155 pounds in a non-title bout in July 2014, dropping a narrow split decision.
From there, the 32-year-old native of Cuba, who had the "interim” tag removed from his title in March 2014, returned to 154 and successfully defended his crown with a trio of victories over Ishe Smith (unanimous decision in December 2014), Delvin Rodriguez (unanimous decision in June) and Jan Zaveck (third-round TKO in November).
Martirosyan, meanwhile, is 5-2 since facing Lara, with the losses coming against still-unbeaten fighters Demetrius Andrade in November 2013 (12-round split decision) and Jermell Charlo in March 2015 (10-round unanimous decision). The 29-year-old Armenian who resides in Glendale, California, followed up the Charlo defeat with a 10-round majority decision over Smith in his most recent fight in September.
“I’m excited to be making my 2016 debut in the boxing capital of Las Vegas,” Lara said. “I can't wait to get in the ring, as I have unfinished business to take care of with Vanes.
“I'm the champion and will remain the champion. I will leave no doubt who the better fighter is, and will show the world that I’m the best fighter in the 154-pound division.”
Said Maritrosyan: “Erislandy Lara and I have unfinished business from our first fight. I had him beat that night, and I'll beat him on May 21. My time is now, and I know I will be the new champion of the world on May 21."
Jermall Charlo is coming off a memorable 2015 in which he went 3-0, including winning his first world championship with an impressive third-round TKO of veteran Cornelius Bundrage in September. In his first defense 10 weeks later, the 25-year-old needed just four rounds to take out Wilky Campfort for his 16th stoppage victory in his last 17 fights.
In Trout, Charlo will face be facing the most seasoned opponent of his career. A lifelong resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Trout won the first 26 fights of his career, which included capturing a 154-pound title in February 2011.
He successfully defended that championship four times before running into Alvarez and Lara in consecutive fights in 2013. He was knocked down in both contests and lost both by unanimous decision.
However, the 30-year-old Trout has since rebounded with four straight wins, the most recent being a sixth-round knockout of Joey Hernandez in September.
“Austin Trout is a seasoned vet,” Jermall Charlo said. “He's fought world champions and has beaten future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto. This is one of my biggest fights to date, but I'm preparing the same way I always do. I’m going to be on my ‘A’ game. I’m ready to make history.”
Said Trout: “It's a twice-in-a-lifetime chance for a second world title, and I’m going to take full advantage of it. I’ve sat at the champions’ table before, and am ready to go back and eat from it again.”
Jermell Charlo is coming off his first stoppage victory in more than two years, having recorded a sixth-round TKO of Joachim Alcine on Halloween night in Houston. Prior to that, he won a quartet of unanimous decisions, with three of them being lopsided and the other—the win over Martirosyan—being his closest contest yet.
Like his twin brother, Charlo will be taking on one of his toughest challenges, as Jackson’s only two setbacks have come against a former world champ (Andy Lee in June 2014) and a top 154-pound contender (Willie Nelson in September 2012).
Since losing to Lee, the 27-year-old Jackson—whose is the son of former two-division champion Julian "The Hawk” Jackson—has picked up back-to-back wins over Carlos Adan Jerez in November 2014 and Dennis Laurente last August, both by unanimous decision.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity to become a world champion,” Jackson said. “I've been training very hard for the last two months for this fight, and come May 21, I will be victorious over Jermell Charlo and realize my lifelong dream of becoming a world champion, like my dad.”
Said Jermell Charlo: “This is a huge fight for me. It’s my first opportunity to fight for a title, and my brother is on the same card defending his belt. There have never been identical twin brothers that are both world champions in the same weight class. We’re going to go out there and make history, and send a message to the whole division.”
For a complete look at all three headlining bouts on the May 21 card, visit our fight night page.