Soon, they’ll share the spotlight, having already done the same with their dreams.
Eight years ago at the qualifying tournament for the 2008 Olympics, Jermall Charlo (22-0, 17 KOs) and Errol Spence Jr. (18-0, 15 KOs) were roommates, two Texas teenagers with futures as big as the belt buckles in their cowboy-heavy home state.
“We told each other sitting in bed one day that we’d both become world champions,” Charlo recalls, his voice betraying no wistfulness at the memory, just a kind of matter-of-fact certainty. He may as well have just been asked if he thought the sun was going to rise tomorrow. “Look at us now.”
Go ahead, look, though be prepared for the pupil-shrinking glare of glowing expectations.
Since they turned pro, Charlo and Spence have been among the most promising prospects in the sport at 154 and 147 pounds, respectively, gifted athletes who both possess such a natural grace in the ring, it’s as if they’ve been honing their footwork since they were in the womb, umbilical cord in place of jump rope.
Charlo has already fulfilled a good deal of that potential, having made a mutt of former 154-pound titleholder Cornelius “K9” Bundrage in September, becoming a world champion via a third-round technical knockout that sent Bundrage back to the kennel with his tail between his legs.
For his part, Spence is well on his way to a title shot, as well.
Their paths cross once again on November 28, when they’ll top the same card together, with Charlo making his first title defense against Wilky Campfort (21-1, 12 KOs) while Spence takes on Alejandro Barrera (28-2, 18 KOs) in the co-main event at the Bomb Factory in Dallas (NBC, 3 p.m. ET/noon PT).
The double bill is the culmination of a long relationship between Charlo and Spence, which is cemented by a familial-like bond, these two siblings in spirit if not blood.
“We grew up together in the amateurs,” says Charlo, whose twin brother, Jermell, once fought Spence before they turned pro. “We always knew about Errol Spence. We used to always say that he’s our other brother in the sport.”
Outside said sport, they remain tight—tight as a freshly secured diaper, as the case may be.
Spence recently had his first child, and Charlo, who has two sons of his own, was eager to offer up some advice.
“He’s a new father now, so we gave him the heads-up,” Charlo says.
Charlo’s less charitable when it comes to his and Spence’s mutual love of video games, as the two have gone controller to controller in high-stakes games of pixilated basketball.
“He’s lost a couple of bucks in NBA 2K,” Charlo says.
And then there’s the natural rivalry between Spence’s native Dallas and Charlo’s hometown of Houston, two cities whose relationship to one another is as contentious as a bar fight between He-Man and an over-served Skeletor.
Seeing as how Spence is a diehard Cowboys devotee, don’t things get a tad heated on football Sundays?
“Me and Errol call each other up when the games are going on and talk about them,” Charlo says, noting that things remain civil. “We’re big Texas guys together.”
That state is the biggest in the continental U.S., its borders as vast as the mutual admiration that Charlo and Spence continue to display toward each other.
“I’ve always showed him a lot of love. He’s showed us a lot of love,” Charlo says. “I couldn’t be more excited to share this time with him.”