While he wouldn’t be my final choice, Jermall Charlo deserves short-list recognition for Fighter of the Year honors. With his Round 5 stoppage of Julian Williams last weekend, he completed one of the best years in the sport for 2016.
Last May, he decisioned former champion Austin Trout. I thought the win was more convincing than Canelo Alvarez’s victory over Trout was in April 2013.
Trout was obviously top 10 in the division, but he is probably a bit past his best days. On the other hand, Williams is a rising talent. He was undefeated headed into his showdown with Charlo. At 26, he is the same age as Charlo.
He was also giving Charlo all he could handle. After a Round 2 knockdown, Williams rallied and won Rounds 3 and 4 on my card. He was consistently finding a home for his right-hand counter against Charlo.
Then, in Round 5, Charlo found the space inside of Williams right hand to deliver a brutal uppercut. The punch sent Williams tumbling to the canvas, face first. He gamely beat the count, but the conclusion was a formality. Charlo swarmed, dropped him again, and referee Wayne Hedgpeth waved off the action at 2:06 of the round.
I’m inclined to give this my vote for Knockout of the Year. It was an extremely well-placed punch and Williams reaction was dramatic. It was the kind of finish that makes a fighter a star.
Charlo’s refusal to “hug it out” with Williams afterward earned him a chorus of boos from the crowd. But this, too, was the kind of reaction that ultimately makes a fighter a star. It showed that Charlo was fighting with strong emotion, and yet managing to fight with brilliant technical control at the same time. It is the same sort of quality we have seen from super lightweight champion Terence Crawford.
Charlo told Showtime’s Jim Grey after the fight that he was almost certainly moving to full middleweight. It makes sense. At 6′ and with a 73.5″ reach, he certainly has the frame for 160 pounds. I could see him having the swagger to take on Gennady Golovkin
But I would also like to see him against super welterweights Alvarez and Demetrius Andrade. There is no shortage of great fights for Charlo.