Jermell Charlo promises to present big problems for Hatley in first title defense

Jermell Charlo is an overwhelming favorite to defend his 154-pound world title for the first time against Charles Hatley, but the champ isn’t necessarily a betting man.

Jermell Charlo and Charles Hatley

Unbeaten world champion Jermell Charlo (left) possesses a slight height and reach advantage over Charles Hatley heading into their 154-pound title fight Saturday night in Brooklyn, New York. (Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

That said, Charlo is extremely confident heading into his title defense Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (Showtime, 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT). That high level of confidence, however, is the result of a solid training camp, an improved diet and always developing physical skills—not any disrespect toward his challenger.

Since claiming the championship last May with an eighth-round knockout of John Jackson, Charlo has used his time wisely. He has spent his time away from competition adding to his already large arsenal of firepower.

Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) still uses an active, pinpoint jab to wear down the opposition and his powerful overhand right can finish anyone at 154 pounds. It’s the punch that ended Jackson's title aspirations. But Charlo promises to unleash previously unseen techniques and punches against Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs).

"There are devastating punches I can throw," Charlo said. "This fight will be my breakout, where people will learn that Jermell Charlo is strong as an ox; Jermell Charlo has very heavy hands; Jermell Charlo has grown as a man, he's 26 years old; he's fast; he's smart; he can move and he can box.

"These are so many [skills] people don't really know that I have. When Charles Hatley comes to bang, he's going to end up with a very serious problem because I've worked on body mass for this fight.”

Both men easily made weight Friday, with Charlo hitting the scale at 153½ pounds and Hatley coming in at 153¼.

When Charles Hatley comes to bang, he's going to end up with a very serious problem because I've worked on body mass for this fight. Jermell Charlo, 154-pound world champion

The key in this fight will be Charlo's jab. It's his bread and butter. If it's on—and there's no reason to believe it won't follow him into the ring Saturday night—then the 5-foot-11 Houston resident could be well on his way to victory.

Hatley, however, is very aware of Charlo's precise jab and promises to limit its effectiveness. Most observers will argue that's easier said than done, but Hatley pays no attention to those who doubt him.

He's watched Charlo's fights closely and believes he's discovered a pattern in the champion's approach. The bottom line for Hatley, though, is concentrating on what he does best—avoid the jab, get inside, work the body and be the more active fighter.

“I learn from every fight no matter who's fighting,” Hatley said. “I learn from every fight. I mean that's what I'm here to do, learn. … I'll just have to be prepared to do what I have to do. I have to worry about me—no one else.”

Hatley, 31, has been stopped once in his career. The 5-foot-10 Dallas native suffered a first-round TKO against Lanardo Tyner, but that was back in August 2012, and a nine-fight winning streak since then should erase any doubts that may have arisen from that lone pro loss.

Neither Charlo nor Hatley are lacking in confidence heading into this showdown, but neither is taking the other for granted. As it should be when a championship is on the line.

For a complete look at Charlo vs Hatley, visit our fight page.

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