Despite having poor eyesight for most of his life, Jermall Charlo has won a 154-pound title and remained unbeaten through 24 professional fights. With his vision now corrected, the 26-year-old world champion can’t wait to see how good he can really become.
For as long as he can remember, Charlo has worn glasses or contact lenses to see clearly—everywhere, that is, but in the ring. Which means he's been forced to defeat opponents that often weren’t in focus.
After undergoing vision-correcting LASIK surgery in July, however, Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) brings a renewed self–assuredness into his title defense against Julian Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs) on Saturday night at the Galen Center in Los Angeles (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
“I didn’t realize I was missing so much. It gives me a lot more confidence,” Charlo said. “You want to be at the top of your game and have every opportunity to be the best you can be.
“I haven't fought with crystal-clear vision my whole life. I'm even more motivated to get in there to see what this new person is like. I feel like it's taking me to the next level.”
Even with blurred vision, Charlo hasn’t exactly struggled to reach the apex of the 154-pound division. After winning his first 21 fights either by stoppage or unanimous decision, the Houston resident became a world champion in September 2015 with a three-round destruction of defending titleholder Cornelius Bundrage, who was floored four times.
Charlo then stopped Wilky Campfort in four rounds in November 2015, gaining three knockdowns in the process, before the “Hitman” again defended his title in May with a unanimous decision over former champion Austin Trout, his toughest opponent to date.
With a mandatory title defense against Williams next on deck, the fight was postponed when Charlo underwent eye surgery in July and received a 60-day medical exemption.
Jermall’s twin brother, Jermell Charlo, who joined his sibling as a 154-pound titleholder in May by beating John Jackson, preceded Jermall in correcting his vision when he underwent the same type of surgery in May 2013.
“I’ve always fought through adversity to win the belt and remain undefeated. My vision hasn't changed my game, my fighting or training," Jermall Charlo said. “I accomplished great things in school as a kid not being able to see the blackboard in class and got my driver’s license without seeing crystal clear. I knew that with boxing, nothing would stop me.”
With such poor vision, Charlo was repeatedly frustrated with the regular re-examinations of his eyes by various state athletic commissions, which often disrupted his workouts with longtime trainer Ronnie Shields.
“My mind was focused on preparing for Trout [in May] when out of nowhere I had to fly to Las Vegas in the middle of the day to get re-examined because supposedly something wasn’t right with my eye exams,” Charlo said.
“I could see to fight, but everything wasn’t crystal clear. Doctors from California to Vegas to Texas to Connecticut, they gave me an issue. I had to keep flying out, interrupting my training flow because I wasn’t seeing everything I was supposed to be seeing.”
With his vision no longer an issue, Charlo anticipates the best performance of his life against the unbeaten Williams, who has won his last nine fights without dropping a single round.
“Julian's trying to persuade fans that somebody is scared of him, but what he does best is talk,” Charlo said. “He's just another steppingstone in my career to see what I'm made of.
“I'm the champ, and he's not seen anyone with my power, height and style. I'm in the best state of mind that I could possibly be in. I'll be right there for him. I'm going to bring something Julian Williams hasn't seen before."
For a complete look at Charlo vs Williams, visit our fight page.