Jermall Charlo was virtually inseparable from twin brother Jermell for most of their youth, and even today the siblings share the distinction of calling themselves 154-pound world champions. But the 26-year-old Texans took different paths to reach the same destination.
The brothers were introduced to boxing at the age of 8 by their father, Kevin, a former amateur fighter, and shared roughly the same career arc until 2007, when Jermell turned pro while Jermall pursued a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.
With his Olympic dreams foiled by a toe injury that required surgery, Jermall made his pro debut in September 2008, six days after Jermell won his fourth fight in as many tries. They fought on the same card the following month in Tucson, Arizona, but while Jermell remained active, improving to 16-0 by the close of 2011, Jermall’s record was just 8-0.
At the time, the siblings were working under the tutelage of Houston-based trainer Ronnie Shields, but Jermall made a move in November 2012 that would further link the brothers’ careers.
After Jermell defeated Dashon Johnson in Ontario, California, to improve to 19-0, Jermall tracked down his brother’s manager in the dressing room in an attempt to jump-start his stagnating career.
“I looked him dead in the eye and asked, ‘Can you please give me a chance?’” Jermall Charlo says. "He grabbed me on the shoulder and asked, ‘Can you be ready in two weeks?’ I laughed and said, ‘I’m ready right now.’”
The following month, Jermall gained a fifth-round stoppage of Edgar Perez in Houston, then won seven times in 2013 to put himself in position to challenge Carlos Molina for his world title in March 2014. That fight fell through just days before the bout when Molina was jailed over immigration issues.
It would be another 18 months before Jermall finally got his title shot, and he made the most of it: On September 12, 2015—exactly seven years to the day he made his pro debut—Jermall stopped Cornelius Bundrage in three rounds.
Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) now awaits his third title defense December 10, when he faces unbeaten top-ranked contender Julian Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs) at the Galen Center in Los Angeles (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
Charlo defeated Austin Trout in his last fight May 21, when he shared a card in Las Vegas with Jermell Charlo, who stopped John Jackson in eight rounds to claim a vacant 154-pound world title. Jermell's victory made the Charlo twins the first brothers in boxing history to hold championships in the same weight division.
“I stayed around my brother, cheering him on until I got my chance,” Jermall Charlo says. “I’m a driven, spiritual, hard-working perfectionist. Not saying it's a Cinderella story, but I appreciate everything I have.”
After beating his brother to the punch in winning a world title despite his later start, Jermall has stayed the course with Shields as his trainer, while Jermell made the switch last year to Dallas-based coach Derrick James. The move once again put the brothers on divergent paths toward achieving their shared aspirations.
“Nothing was handed to me. Nothing scares me after all that I’ve been through,” says Jermall Charlo, who is now married with three children.
“When I enter the ring on December 10, I'm putting my life on the line again for my family to continue building my legacy as one of the best boxers in the world.”
For a complete look at Charlo vs Williams, visit our fight page.