Jermall Charlo is poised to make a statement

WBC interim middleweight champion plans to take out all his anger and frustration on Russian contender Matt Korobov this Saturday night in the main event of PBC on FOX at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

There is an underlying coarseness to Jermall Charlo’s voice. Words spit out like the sound of sandpaper drawn slowly across an uneven wooden surface. They’re gruff, abrupt and cranky, like Charlo’s punches—and like Jermall himself.

Charlo will channel that anger toward Russian expatriate Matt Korobov (28-1, 14 KOs) when they face-off for Charlo’s WBC interim middleweight title this Saturday, December 22, in the main event of a PBC on FOX card (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Charlo, 27-0 (21 KOs), was initially slated to meet Willie Monroe Jr. Monroe was removed from the card earlier this week following an adverse finding on a test administered by VADA under the WBC Clean Boxing Program. In stepped the 35-year-old southpaw Korobov, who was originally scheduled to fight Colombian Juan DeAngel on the same card.

In Charlo, he’ll be facing a man who needs no further motivation but may have found one in his original opponent’s test results. It’s Charlo who had to discipline himself, who had to make sure his weight was right, the one who made sacrifices for the fight to occur. According to the Houston, Texas native, Monroe tried taking a shortcut. Poor Korobov, who’s fighting for the second time after a two-year layoff, may suffer for it.

“Someone is going to pay for (what Monroe did), and (Korobov) is the one who’s definitely going to pay for it,” Charlo said. “He stepped in and he knows what he’s stepping into. I hope the fans don’t give me a lot of stuff for it, because I did everything right. I’m pleased with this year. It brought a lot of joy to my family and the things that I have done. I want to close it strong.

“The attitude is still the same. I’m ready and prepared for everything. The change (in opponents) isn’t going to affect me. I know very little about Korobov, I just know that he’s a strong fighter. He doesn’t have the kind of style that I’ve never been in the ring with before. I always prepare for any style at this moment, and it’s all part of being a world champion.”

Charlo stressed that he’s been even more explosive in sparring and has exhibited more patience. Those nuanced improvements, he promises, will surface Saturday night.

“I’ve learned certain moves in the ring; close distance and make the fight a lot easier. I’ve been sharpening up. I think what happened here (with Monroe) shows how ungrateful certain fighters are. Cheaters never win. (Korobov) is a much better opponent on paper than Willie Monroe Jr.” 

Ronnie Shields, Charlo’s universally respected trainer, says his fighter has looked fantastic in training camp. Thus, it really doesn’t matter who Charlo fights. Upsets, however, do happen in boxing and Shields is well aware of that.

“I know how hard my guys train and I know how hard Jermall trained for Monroe, so regardless of who he fights, he’s going to be ready because he’s always ready,” Shields said. “We go into every fight thinking our opponent is the best fighter we’ll ever face. With Jermall, this kid wants to learn everything he possibly can about his opponent.

“It’s why I watch so much tape of a guy, and why he watches so much tape. I encourage my fighters to watch things all the time, because maybe there is something I don’t see that they do see. Jermall is a very aware fighter. He sees everything and it’s something I don’t think he gets enough credit for. Jermall studies and does his homework. He wants to learn. He’s so different than other fighters because he wants to know every single thing about an opponent.”

Shields will occasionally push Charlo, force him into throwing punches beyond his comfort range. Charlo trusts Shields and doesn’t complain. The importance of learning was entrenched in him years before; from countless hours of watching fights with the family on the sofa.

“With Ronnie Shields and the family and the underground teaching me and my brother received when we were young, always sitting in front of the tube with my parents always watching boxing,” Jermall said. “That’s where a lot of it started. You learn different parts of the craft and you learn to respect every part of the craft.”

Like Charlo, Korobov is a student of the game. A 2008 Russian Olympian, his pro career was filled with great promise at the outset. All of that changed when Andy Lee stopped him in 2014 to win the vacant WBO middleweight title. Korobov was up on all three scorecards when the bout ended.

Some might dismiss Korobov based on this loss, but Charlo knows better. That’s why he’ll be at his very best Saturday night, extra motivation and all.

“I’m not looking past this man,” he said. “But I am angry. Someone is going to pay for what happened, and if I can’t take it out on (Monroe), I’ll take it out on Korobov.”

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