The unified super welterweight world champ and the undefeated two-time super middleweight champ discuss their respective upcoming May bouts and potential future opponents.
ARLINGTON, TX — One was looking to further confirm who is among boxing’s best while the other was looking to re-establish himself among boxing’s elite when Jermell Charlo and David Benavidez met the media during a roundtable event last Saturday inside the Live! By Loews Hotel prior to the Errol Spence Jr.-Yordenis Ugas welterweight unification fight at AT&T Stadium.
Charlo, the unified WBC, WBA, and IBF Super Welterweight World Champion, has a rematch coming up on Saturday, May 14, against WBO 154-pound world champ Brian Castano. Their SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) card from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event, carries historical ramifications, with the winner becoming the first ever undisputed 154-pound champion in the four-belt era.
Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KOs) and Castano fought to a highly competitive split-draw last July.
The following Saturday, May 21, Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) gets his turn against former world champion David Lemieux (43-4, 36 KOs) in a 12-round super middleweight bout for the vacant interim WBC 168-pound title on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
Charlo addressed the media first and was immediately emphatic on his intentions with Castano (17-0-2, 12 KOs). He stressed he wants to revert to the Jermell Charlo of old.
“I want to knock this guy out,” Charlo said. “This is the Jermell from earlier, back when I was trying to end fights. I want to be that guy for 12 rounds now. This is a big moment for me. I’m locked in a little different this time. I’m locked in like I’ve never been before. I’m locked in like I don’t gotta fight. I’m more dedicated than I’ve ever been. I feel hungrier. This is about me this time. This is about the best Jermell Charlo. The last fight I dealt with a lot of those what you consider to be those warriors of camp, when you go through things and you don’t explain, and you don’t express it, and a lot of those things were bothering me during that time.
“I was having back spasms and I realized I had to change this up a little bit. I want to say I’m coming at it the old-school way right now. At first, I was being ‘Superstar Jermell Charlo,’ and I put that beside me right now. This is about me digging deeper into the Jermell Charlo that I really am. I’m trying to test myself into deeper waters with everything, training, and swimming, and running, stuff that I ran away from. You start to grow into that stardom world. I put that stiff beside me.
“I want to knock this guy. The ‘Mell that you all knew fighting four rounds, I was going in there trying to end that four-round fight with a knockout. I want to be that guy for 12 rounds now.”
Charlo, very poignantly, said he’s ready for Castano. He admits he could have put on a better performance by not being on the ropes against Castano the first time.
“But who got hurt off the ropes, (Castano) got clipped, he got buckled,” Charlo said. “In boxing sometimes, you have to fight off the ropes. Yeah, I could have done better by not being on the ropes. But I fought myself off the ropes. Who got hurt more? Who got buckled? To me, I want all the action. At the end of the day, maybe I won’t be on the ropes that much and get back into the center of the ring. He didn’t throw as many punches as he usually does against me. Why? Because he got hurt. The fight would have ended if he had thrown more punches. I’m going to smash him this time around.”
Benavidez followed Charlo to talk about Lemieux, the rough Canadian who is riding a five-fight winning streak. Benavidez has stopped his last five opponents.
“David Lemieux (is) basically tailormade for my style to go in there and stop him,” Benavidez said. “But it’s not going to be easy…It’s going to be a fun fight. David Lemieux, I feel is very motivated, too. He’s fighting for another title, too, just like I am. He’s a big puncher, and with a big puncher, the last thing to go is the power, so I’m looking forward to this.”
Benavidez said his jab is his bread and butter, it comes naturally. That’s the punch that will need to work against Lemieux. Benavidez also conceded he watched Gennadiy Golovkin’s eight-round stoppage victory over Lemieux in October 2015 and saw how effective GGG’s jab was in that fight. Benavidez admits he’s a different fighter than Golovkin, but with his blend of speed and power combinations, he also foresees a quicker stoppage than what Golovkin achieved.
On the possibility of facing Canelo Alvarez in the future, Benavidez stated, “To be honest, right now I’m kind of forgetting about a Canelo fight because he’s over there doing his thing. He’s going to fight Bivol and then Golovkin. So, I feel like I have to take this route and fight everybody over here. At the end of the day, that’s going to give me the experience I need. Canelo is where he’s at because he has experience. He’s fought a lot of great fighters, so if I go the same route and fight all these great fighters and beat them, then I’ll have enough experience to go in there and have the confidence to beat Canelo.”
And as for former IBF super middleweight champ Caleb Plant, Benavidez chimed in, “I hope Caleb Plant is serious about fighting in the second half of the year. I’m serious. We’ve let this fight marinate as long as possible. Now it’s going to be an even better position because once I get the WBC interim title against David Lemieux, there will be no excuse not to fight me. He said he wants the rematch with Canelo. Well, this is the best step to do it.”
Sitting there throughout the roundtable was Stephen Espinoza, Showtime President, Sports and Event Programming. He threw some sauce on what may be ahead in 2022 for Benavidez, saying Plant-Benavidez makes sense.
“I think one thing that the pandemic reminded everybody is that it can be taken away at any minute,” Espinoza said. “This could all disappear. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that coming out of the pandemic, we have had no issue making tough fights. If you look at our schedule, it’s all tough fights. Nobody is getting easy fights. I do think that this has had an effect on people. These are fights that need to be made. Life is short, so let’s do it.”
Sometimes what gets lost is Benavidez is 6’½” tall and squeezing 168 pounds into that frame can be challenging. He’s committed more to a diet, though, Benavidez says, “it’s not easy. I can make (168), I can make it good. I’ve been in camp since January 15. I’ve been on top of my diet and on top of my water, so everything has been going well. It’s making me a better fighter, because every time you cut weight, you get a little dehydrated and not I’m dehydrated at all. I can push through all of my workouts with a lot of energy and lot of intensity, too. You’re definitely going to see a lot better version of me (against Lemieux).”