Jermell Charlo vowed that he would have a breakthrough performance in his first 154-pound title defense, and he backed up that promise with a devastating knockout of Charles Hatley.
Charlo dropped Hatley in the third round before finishing him off in the sixth Saturday night to retain his world championship before a crowd of 9,118 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The knockout was sensational as Charlo punctuated a barrage of blows with a head-swiveling right hand that landed as Hatley missed with a left. The challenger fell face-first to the canvas and was out cold beneath the bottom rope on the ring apron as referee Harvey Dock immediately waved an end to the fight 32 seconds into Round 6.
“I used that jab to set up the right hand,” said Charlo, 26, of Houston. “I knew Charles Hatley goes down and he gets back up—he’s a warrior—and I knew I had to get in there and be a lion.”
Charlo showed more power than he had in previous fights as he put the rest of the 154-pound division on notice, and looked forward to a possible title unification against recently crowned champion Jarrett Hurd, who earned the title that Charlo’s twin brother, Jermall, vacated earlier this year to move up to 160.
“I’m the champ, so I have to continue to fight my mandatory,” Jermell Charlo said. “They got a guy named Jarret Hurd that took my brother’s title—we could unify.”
Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) defended his title for the first time since earning the vacant championship last May with an eighth-round KO over John Jackson in Las Vegas. He made history that night by joining Jermall as the first siblings to simultaneously hold 154-pound world titles.
“I'm so proud of my brother,” said Jermall Charlo, who was in attendance Saturday night. “He stayed focused this week and did the right things in the ring. He hit the gas when he needed to. He won every round. We are blessed.”
Said Jermell Charlo: “The Charlos don't play. This is what my life has always been like. The Charlos have strength and power, and that's what makes us who we are. My whole family and team are here and we're doing our thing.”
Hatley (26-2-1, 18 KOs) lost for the first time since being stopped by Lanardo Tyner in the first round in August 2012.
The 31-year-old Dallas native had some success early against Charlo, but the champion staggered him against the ropes at the end of Round 2. Charlo totally seized control in Round 3, when Hatley was floored for the seventh time in his career with a right to the temple.
“Jermell gave a phenomenal performance,” said Charlo’s trainer, Derrick James. “He did everything we worked on in camp.”
After Hatley was warned for an intentional headbutt in the fourth, Charlo stunned him with a stiff jab and later with a right just before the end of the round.
“Hatley was moving around a lot. He was trying to engage and I tried to tell him to come fight,” Charlo said. “When he finally got in there, that's when I got him out.”
Leading up to the fight, Charlo sparred 50 rounds with Errol Spence Jr., who was ringside Saturday night and will challenge Kell Brook for his 147-pound world title in Sheffield, England, on May 27.
“Sparring with Errol Spence helped a lot,” Charlo said. “It helped me improve my accuracy. Errol is not an easy guy to hit, so it really helped me a lot.”
For a complete look at Charlo vs Hatley, visit our fight page.