Son inspiring Jermell Charlo to shoot for greatness inside, outside of ring

For athletes, timing often determines who succeeds and who fails. This applies to all forms of athletic competition—boxing included. And in the 154-pound division, this might be the worst time to step in the ring with world champion Jermell Charlo.

Jermell Charlo

Motivated largely by his 7-year-old son, Elijah, unbeaten Jermell Charlo will defend his 154-pound world title for the first time Saturday night against top-ranked contender Charles Hatley. (Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)

While most fighters are motivated by their desire to become a champion and remain on top, it’s much deeper than that for Charlo. His motivation is fueled by a long-standing commitment to be the best role model for his 7-year-old son, Elijah.

“He’s my inspiration; he’s my biggest motivation,” Charlo said. "I have to keep [feeding] off of him, because I have to one day be his hero. I want him to have more … to say than ‘my dad was just a boxer.’

“I’m very careful about what I introduce to my son … and what my son sees.”

Now that Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) possesses a world championship, it is his intent to retain that title for a very long time. With Elijah as a constant reminder and motivator of why he must continue pushing himself harder and harder each day, the 26-year-old Houston resident has his eye on becoming a unified 154-pound champion.

But first, Charlo must defend his title Saturday night against top-rated challenger Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (Showtime, 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT).

“I have a legacy that I keep pushing for,” he said. “I have to keep pushing and pushing forward as much as I can.”

The next stop on that road toward greatness will be Brooklyn. Charlo has taken every fight in his career very seriously, and this one is no exception. But this one is a bit different since he will be making his first title defense.

Charlo refuses to be a one-hit wonder. He’s made too many sacrifices thus far—for himself and Elijah—to have a letdown now.

“It’s a championship bout and I’ve got to put my life on the line,” Charlo said. “So when I fight [Hatley], I will be fighting for more than just the title. I’ll be fighting for something bigger than that; I’m fighting for a dynasty, a legacy. I’m fighting for my life.”

Closing The Year Like A Boss !!! #2017 #LionsOnly ( 7yrs Old, You Figure... Eli )

A post shared by Jermell Charlo (@twincharlo) on

If that isn’t enough to get Charlo’s juices flowing, making his New York debut will prove to be the proverbial icing on the cake. He is determined to expand his fan base with an impressive victory, preferably by KO.

“I’m excited about [fighting in New York]. Everyone I’ve fought from the East Coast, I’ve [beaten] but haven’t had a lot of knockouts.”

While parental motivation, legacy and fighting at Barclays Center are all factors in pushing Charlo to be at his best Saturday night, it’s his skills more than anything else that will determine what happens inside the ring. And skill-wise, Charlo’s development as a fighter seems to have no limit.

While his twin brother, Jermall, recently relinquished his own 154-pound world title in order to move up to 160, Jermell is still quite comfortable at his weight.

Then there is Charlo’s stiff, accurate left jab. He used it to near perfection last May during his title-winning victory over John Jackson. And while not known for his power, Charlo put the entire 154-pound division on notice when he knocked out Jackson in the eighth round.

Charlo’s jab and overhand right alone could possibly keep him atop the division for a long time, but he said he’s been expanding his repertoire in order to keep improving.

“I do feel I can finish people with [the overhand right],” Charlo said, “but I’ve got something else that I’ve been working on and I’m hoping to release it out of my arsenal.

“My jab is one of my best punches because it sets up things, but there are several dangerous punches I can throw that I know are top level. I want to pull them out of the basket … and see what they do for me.”

For a complete look at Charlo vs Hatley, visit our fight page.

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