With his twin brother’s victory and first world championship safely in the bank, Jermall Charlo entered the ring Saturday night determined to make history in his title defense against Austin Trout: With a win, he and Jermell Charlo would hold 154-pound titles concurrently, becoming the first boxing twins to do so.
Trout wasn’t about to make it easy.
A former 154-pound titleholder himself, Austin Trout gave Jermall Charlo the toughest fight of his professional life, pushing the champ farther than he’s ever gone before. In the end, though, history was indeed made at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where Charlo followed his brother’s eighth-round knockout of John Jackson by escaping with a hard-fought unanimous decision.
The scores were 115-113 and 116-112 twice.
“Austin is a hell of a fighter. He’s a beast,” said Charlo, who had never fought more than 10 rounds prior to Saturday. “This was my first time going 12, but it didn’t matter because I knew I was in shape.
“I want to thank God for allowing me and my twin brother to see this day. History.”
Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) set the tone early by working behind his lightning-quick jab, which Trout (30-3, 17 KOs) was unable to time and consistently avoid. Because of that, Trout’s right eye began to swell as early as the second round.
As he struggled to close the distance against his taller, longer 26-year-old opponent, Trout was left to attack the body in the early going, which he did with mixed results.
With his jab opening the door to big right hands, Charlo for the most part dominated the middle rounds. But that’s when the fight began to level out, as Charlo’s big rights that landed on Trout’s chin were balanced out by the 30-year-old challenger tagging the champ when he lunged forward and lowered his head.
The bout was even through the final four rounds, which the two fighters split. But Charlo’s work in the middle of the contest proved to be the difference as the Houston resident successfully defended his title for a second time, much to the dismay of a dejected Trout, who believed he did enough to win the fight.
“I felt the momentum, especially in the middle rounds, started changing,” said Trout, whose swollen eye was cut in the later rounds, the first time the southpaw from Las Cruces, New Mexico, has ever been bled as a pro. “He was lunging in, he was reaching, I landed clean shots in the later rounds.
“Hat’s off to Charlo—he fought a good fight, [and] it was a close fight. I have no ill will toward him. My issues are with the judges.”
Having taken care of Trout, Charlo—who entered the fight having knocked out 16 of his previous 17 opponents—is now mandated to face hard-hitting, undefeated contender Julian “J-Rock” Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs). Williams was supposed to be Charlo’s mandatory opponent in the latter’s second title defense, but the Philadelphia native stepped aside and allowed Trout to take the fight.
Williams watched Saturday’s action a few rows from ringside with his trainer, Stephen Edwards. The two talked strategy throughout the fight, and at one point, when Trout got the better of a big-punch exchange, Williams rose from his seat and shouted, “Don’t mess the money up, Jermall.”
After the decision, Williams said he wasn’t impressed with Charlo’s performance. “He’s got a lot of flaws,” Williams said, “and I know how to expose them.”
There’s been speculation that Charlo will vacate his title and jump to 160 pounds rather than fight Williams, even suggesting the move up in weight was imminent during the final pre-fight news conference Thursday. But Charlo, who struggled to make weight in his first title defense against Wilky Campfort in November before easily doing so for this bout, changed his tune Saturday, saying he has no intentions of going anywhere.
“I changed my mind,” he said. “We’re going to stay right here.”
Now, with he and Jermell having achieved their lifelong goal of being world champions together, Jermall Charlo says he and his brother have a new objective: rule their division for as long as possible.
“We belong on this level,” he said. “We need these titles to get the big fights, and we’re going to keep these titles to keep rising.”
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