He’s a champion now, which means many things, chiefly, no snooze alarms.
“I’m not sleeping on Wilky Campfort,” says newly anointed 154-champ Jermall Charlo, giving notice to his next opponent. “Every boxer is a warrior. I feel like his résumé speaks for itself.”
What does that résumé say, exactly? That come Saturday, Jermall Charlo (22-0, 17 KOs) will be stepping into the ring with a man who hasn’t lost since suffering his lone defeat in his second pro fight six years ago, winning 20 in a row since.
But that’s just a surface read, and you can’t judge a book by its cover—unless the cover contains an image of a bare-chested Fabio astride a stallion. Then you know you’re in for a chin-stroking meditation on quantum field theory.
Delve into the body of work of Wilky Campfort (21-1, 12 KOs), and what emerges is a picture of a deceptively powerful puncher whose knockout percentage doesn’t tell the whole story of how hard he can bang.
Just check out his last fight, against Colombian bomb thrower Ronald Montes in September. In that contest, Campfort got dropped in the first round only to return the favor three times in the following stanza, stopping Montes with a head-snapping left hook that made his eyes spin like the Price Is Right wheel.
The thing is, Campfort is most successful when going head-to-head with similarly offensive-minded fighters. He isn’t always able to penetrate his opponent’s defense as easily as he did against the eager-to-trade Montes, who swung with the abandon of a kid whacking at a piñata.
And that could prove problematic against the longer, more athletic Charlo, who glides across the ring as if the soles of his shoes were coated with ball bearings.
Charlo will likely go into the fight with a game plan similar to the one he used when he savaged Cornelius “K9” Bundrage to become world champ in September: Fight from the outside behind his jab, setting up his boulder-heavy right hand.
This means that Campfort will have to have get inside on Charlo and attempt to negate his reach advantage, slow him down with a consistent body attack and pressure him to the extent that Charlo can’t use his excellent footwork to elude Campfort's charge.
That’s the straightforward scouting report. But Charlo contends he’s ready for any curveballs that Campfort might hurl his way.
“If he wants to move and be slick, we’re going to have to outwork him and get the job done,” says Charlo, who weighed in Friday at 154 pounds while Campfort was 153.2 pounds. “I’m able to adjust to my opponent’s focal points. If my opponent uses power, I use speed. If my opponent uses speed, I use power.
"I’m able to break an opponent down with my athleticism, my power, my natural abilities to box and stay focused. The only way I can lose is if I lose composure and I’m not focused enough to get the job done.”
With his title on the line, Charlo knows that he’s going get the best that Campfort can muster.
Charlo’s in a new position: a win over him rockets a challenger like Campfort’s career to unexpected heights.
Now, his job is to knock Campfort’s head out of those clouds.
“Wilky’s going to come at me trying to change his life,” he says. “I’ve got to be that guy who says, ‘Hey, I have what he doesn’t have, he’s not on my level.’ I have to show it. I’m here to prove Wilky’s team wrong.”
Charlo’s division is a hot one right now, headlined by such top-flight fighters as Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout and can’t-miss contenders like Julian Williams and his brother Jermell Charlo.
Jermall’s well aware of how loaded the 154-pound ranks are these days, which is why he’s returning to the ring just two months after winning his title. Simply put, he wants to stay sharp. This means he’s had to skip all the Thanksgiving tidings this week, though he aims to feast on Saturday.
“This is a sport where you get eat or you get eaten,” he says. “I’m in for a big meal right now.”
For full coverage of Charlo vs Campfort, visit our fight page.