Lions came to mind as I watched Canelo do a stare down face-off with Jermell Charlo on Tuesday at the Palladium in NYC, and Wednesday, when the two fighters were at the Beverly Hilton in LA to hype the Sept. 30 Canelo vs Charlo fight card. The promotion is topped by the face-off between the Mexican pugilist who’s been the sport’s lead dog for a few years and the Texas twin who is taking a step-up career-definer at age 33.
Why lions in my mind?
One, because hardcores know that the Charlos have talked up the phrase “Lion’s Only,” making it a focus of their brand identity. And then, also, the construct of Canelo as the pride chieftain who hears loud whispers from critics that he’s showing his age.
The red-head is 33, too, actually, one would think he had a few years on Jermell, but that’s mostly because Alvarez turned pro in 2009 and has been so active, his presence registers more heavily on fans’ radar screens.
This year in boxing has been the best in my memory for compelling matches being made. That’s different from “big fights” being made, right, we’ve seen Tank Davis, Naoya Inoue and Terence Crawford put in “easy work” efforts in their high-profile contests this half year.
This is another one, there is considerable drama mostly stemming from dramatic speculation, in regards to what the hell is going to occur in that ring in the Canelo vs Charlo fight card main event.
Alvarez at 59-2-2, with 39 KOs, Jermell at 35-1-1, with 19 KOs. (Yes, you thought he had a higher KO percentage, so did I.)
I’d be open to betting a decent sum of money that their fight will have more ebb and flow and heat bubbling than was evidenced in the NY and LA marketing events.
First, in NY.
Charlo chose a low-key, quite unassuming and relaxed outfit, sporting a “peasant” style pullover sweater.
That allowed Canelo, who’s listed first in the promotional pecking order, before Premier Boxing Champions, with whom he is contracted to for three fights, to gain more spotlight in the sartorial department.
The combatants will do battle at 168 pounds, a leap in poundage for “Little” Charlo, who told people that it was the plan for him, not big bro Jermall, to face Canelo, despite rumors rampant that said otherwise.
Canelo vs Charlo Fight Card Presser Report/This Fight Surprised Everyone
Yeah, that added to the intrigue, this was a curveball fight, coming on the heel of Canelo’s knuckleball of a move, hooking on with Al Haymon, after his long stint with Golden Boy, and a recent comfortable and continuing relationship with Eddie Hearn.
I found it interesting, only slightly curious, that there was light chatter between the men as they kicked off the NYC gathering with that face to face. They then shook hands at this Canelo vs Charlo fight card NY presser, indicating a level of respect that took some by surprise.
Where was the “Lions Only” level of intensity that Jermell has offered over the years? The barely contained vessel, simmering and seeming to have to work to stay un-detonated, he wasn’t in the arena.
They will scrap at T-Mobile, with Showtime doing the honors as platform provider.
That meant Brian Custer, the ESPN/Showtime talent, presided over the press event.
“New York City, Times Square, crossroads of the world,” Custer said. A “mega fight,” Custer said, because both men are currently “undisputed,” meaning they hold all the worthwhile belts in their chosen divisions.
Jermell’s been the man at 154, so there’s no shortage of pundits and fans who proclaim that Jermell will be in over his head come Sept. 30.
While Custer talked about how one can purchase tix for the Canelo vs Charlo fight card, Canelo stared straight ahead, looking lost in thought.
Was he wondering how much, if any, that he’s lost?
Was he harboring silent doubts about himself, thinking maybe he perhaps got a little too creative in his matchmaking choice? No one will know if so.
Promoter Tom Brown during the Canelo vs Charlo fight card presser, with his husky Minnesota mini-accent, had a proper tone vocally as he said that Jermell “is convinced that he’s gonna win this fight…it’s gonna come down to who can best adjust under fire.”
Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza, enjoying his best half year run in terms of premium (on paper) offerings, said that All-Access will run Sept 8, Sept 15, and the postfight epilogue, the first Saturday in October.
Trainer Derrick James said that his kid has always wanted this one, and that this one is what he needs to get to “superstar” status. He gave Canelo heavy props, there was no playing the Lou Albano role, no talking smack in an attempt to get under the skin of the A side. “He’s daring to be great,” James said of his “kid.”
Jermell got a turn at the mic. Would he be incendiary?
Charlo Is Mellow At Canelo vs Charlo Fight Card Pressers
He thanked Team Canelo, calling them “legends in the game.”
Interesting; was he pulling some reverse psychology? This was low-ego Jermell, saying that he’s been working hard to get that W, and he’s pleased to be part of the show. Not THE SHOW.
Yes, this was a humble turn at the mic, and I pondered what to make of it.
Canelo at the mic started low volume. A mellow lion, fitting his standing in the pride, maybe.
“I always take risks,” he told the watchers. “I think right now the best promoters are Canelo Promotions and PBC…Stay tuned Sept. 30, it’s gonna be a great fight.”
He then spoke Spanish.
Other tidbits from the New York session: “I think he’s a great fighter,” Canelo said, and this is the correct time to do it, he said when asked for the impetus.
—Jermell said he wants to shut down his haters, his voice sounded so composed, relaxed, it feels like maybe some of his “youthful enthusiasm angry energy” has dissipated. Maturity? Sounded like it.
—Custer gets a credit for reading a review to Canelo, a story excerpt which laid out that he looks to be on the slide. The Mexican admitted that no, he’s NOT looked at his best in his last two fights. Then Custer read a “negative” review, and that got Jermell ranting. “I don’t care about them,” he stated, showing disdain for his favorite piñata, certain media.
—Jermell (at the mic in Amanda Westcott pic, below) will have been out of the ring for 16 months, will rust be an issue, Custer asked. He phrased that deftly. Nah, you'll see, said Jermell.
—Jermell and then Jermall? “That’s not my plan…but we’ll see,” Canelo said when queried about his post Jermell options. Let’s do this one, then we’ll talk, he shared. “I think gonna be a great fight, no joke.”
—Custer grabbed another gold star when he asked Canelo if he should be top of the Inoue/Crawford mix as top man, pound for pound. “Look…I think they all deserve being the top, me too…”
Solid answer from a quite deft politician, and it appears someone who has I think absorbed that Bivol loss well. Yeah, his ego got dented, but that didn’t leave an irrevocable mark.
—Jermell guaranteed a good fight, not a win, when asked what will happen Sept. 30.
Canelo thinks he will win, but also didn’t offer a guarantee.
Canelo vs Charlo Fight Card Presser 2
People hopped on jets and flights, and hoofed to California. The LA presser, would there be a different vibe? (Check out the whole presser here.)
Would one or the other show a different side? Would Jermell act harder, having noted online chatter that he didn’t seem like a hungry/angry lion in Manhattan.
The vibe in Cali was different, they held the session outside. Apart from that, nah. The vibe reflected the venue, I'd say.
Jermell again dressed down, sporting leisure wear, so Canelo’s threads got more looks.
Jermell at the mic during the Canelo vs Charlo fight card LA presser again offered thanks to Team Canelo for the opportunity. His volume level was low as he continued. He took a shot at ESPN, and other media, for reporting that Canelo would be facing Jermall.
That is more so signature Jermell, he has long used that fodder for motivation. “Lion’s Only,” he said in closing.
Canelo then took a turn at the mic.
“Muchas gracias,” he said, going the Spanish route to start, as opposed to the English in NYC. Then the English presentation…He thanked reporters for coming, again, so deft.
His smoothness was in evidence, this is old hat for him, not in a bad way.
“Who taught him English, shit got good,” Jermell loudly noted. Interesting, that deference, what’s up with that?
Custer fired some queries…He asked Jermell what people will be saying post-fight. People “will be calling me great, I wanna be known as great,” he answered.
More morsels from the Cali show….
—Custer again took it to Canelo, trotting out some negative critiques from the last two fights. “I know…I’ll be ready in this fight, you’re gonna see something different,” he promised. Hmm, what is he hinting at here?
—Jermell did a good job at each event putting out areas where he thinks he’s superior to the Mexican. He again didn’t promise a win, understanding it’s going to be a dogfight.
—Canelo said from outside looking in, he looks easier to beat than he is.
—“I’m gonna bring that Texas heat, I’m gonna come show up, show out…we’re gonna put on a show,” Jermell said. Custer prodded him…will you win? “And be undisputed champion at super middleweight?”
“And of course be undisputed champion at super middleweight and then we’ll figure out the rest,” Jermell added parenthetically post prod during the Canelo vs Charlo fight card Cali presser.
Canelo promised “I will do my best in the ring, and that’s it,” he said, also choosing the alternative to chest thumping.
You all reading this far probably noted that chatter existed post pressers, with plenty of folks wondering about that lack of feral energy Jermell is typically infused with.
My Three Cents: I confess to being of two (maybe more) minds. From the armchair shrink seat, would I preferred to have heard Jermell sound like the thought he would win a bit more forcefully in NY and LA? Kind of, yeah.
These pressers didn’t contain any theatricality, and that can feel refreshing, because we all know plenty of hijinks at these settings is contrived. I’m thinking, you know what—I’m going to assume that the fight itself will provide a payoff in the neighborhood of the collective anticipation level for the matchup.
And it cannot possibly turn out to be one sided, for one dude or another, like other mega matchups of late, right? We shall see. This one has more full attention.