Jermall Charlo stops short of saying what he likely believes: that he’ll be the first man to knock out Austin Trout. Charlo’s trainer, on the other hand, doesn’t pull any punches on the topic.
“Jermall is definitely going to be the first one to knock his ass out,” says Ronnie Shields, who trains the Houston-based Charlo out of the Plex Boxing Gym in Stafford, Texas.
It’s certainly easy to understand Shields’ confidence, as Jermall Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs) has stopped 78 percent of his opponents since turning pro nearly eight years ago. Entering Saturday’s 154-pound title defense against Austin Trout (30-2, 17 KOs) at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas—one in a trio of championship bouts on Showtime (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT)—Charlo has finished off 16 of his last 17 opponents inside the distance.
That includes September’s third-round TKO that dethroned champion Cornelius Bundrage, followed by a fourth-round TKO of Wilky Campfort in Charlo’s first title defense in November. Not only did Charlo end Campfort’s 20-fight winning streak, but he became the first man to stop Campfort.
“A lot of guys that I’ve fought in the past never had been stopped. But styles make fights, and different athletes like Austin Trout offer different things,” Charlo says. “I just plan on giving it my all and coming out with the victory.”
A left-handed former 154-pound champion, the 30-year-old Trout has hit the deck multiple times. In the only two defeats of his career, which came in consecutive fights, Trout was dropped once by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and once by Erislandy Lara.
Both times, though, the Las Cruces, New Mexico, native picked himself up off the deck and finished the fights, losing each by unanimous decision.
Then in his next bout against Daniel Dawson in August 2014, Trout was downed twice in Round 3 but rallied to win a comfortable 10-round unanimous decision, launching a current four-fight winning streak.
Having closely analyzed Trout in his losses to Alvarez and Lara, Charlo believes he’s spotted holes in the southpaw's game that he’ll be able to exploit.
“I fight a lot different from Lara and Alvarez, so all I can do is look at the film of Trout himself,” says Charlo, who turns 26 on Thursday. “I see things that he does well and things that I think I can counter and catch him on.
“I’m bigger and taller than Alvarez, so his game plan will not be similar to my game plan.”
Charlo chose to take on Trout over mandatory challenger Julian Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs), whose seventh-round stoppage of Italy’s Marcello Matano in March represented the Philadelphia native’s third straight knockout win.
By defeating Matano, the 26-year-old Williams became the No. 1 contender for Charlo’s title, but the champ was granted an exception to face Trout—who held a world title from February 2011 until losing to Alvarez in a title-unification bout in April 2013—on the condition that the winner faces Williams.
“Austin Trout deserves a title shot more than a lot of junior middleweights. He’s done enough in the boxing game for me to acknowledge that he’s one of the best,” Charlo says. “I know that in order for me to be the best, I have to beat the best, so there’s no other way for me to do that than to be matched up against solid competition like Austin Trout. My team got together, and they feel like we made the right move.”
For complete coverage of Charlo vs Trout, check out our fight page.