Jermall Charlo (17-0, 13 KO) is about to get the biggest test and opportunity of his young career. On Saturday night, as part of the undercard that features Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Charlo will face IBF light middleweight champion "King" Carlos Molina (22-5-2, 6 KO).
The 23-year-old Charlo is set to take a major step up in competition, much like his twin brother Jermell did in his last bout against another member of nickname royalty, "King" Gabriel Rosado.
Jermall hopes to follow the pattern created by Jermell. The latter out-boxed Rosado, and now Jermall will be looking to dethrone a king as well.
Molina won his title in his last bout. He captured a split-decision victory over Ishe Smith in September 2013. This bout with Charlo will be his first defense.
Here's how you can catch the action.
When: Saturday, March 8 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand in Las Vegas
TV: Showtime pay-per-view
The Book on Charlo
After a stellar amateur career, Charlo has been just as impressive as a professional. He's undefeated, but he hasn't faced anyone with the experience and skill that Molina possesses.
That said, Charlo is an exceptional athlete. The Houston native is fired up and ready to take Molina's strap. He told Peter Lim of the Houston Chronicle, "I'm super ready. I feel like I'm on an elite level already. The record don't mean nothing. This is the best training camp I've ever had, hands down. I actually fought in December so I was already in good quality shape since."
There's no doubt Charlo's speed and power are superior to Molina's, but the champion is slick and knows how to gain advantages against physically superior opponents.
Still, Charlo remains confident in his approach. Per Thomas Gerbasi of Boxing Scene, Charlo said, "If I come in fresh, and come in spraying nothing but Lysol all over him, I can’t lose. His game plan is to make me look ugly, so the more confident and the more comfortable I feel in there, I won’t have a problem with it going to the scorecards."
Will Charlo get a boxing lesson, or will Molina become another conquered opponent?
The Book on Molina
Respect is hard to come by for Molina. Despite the fact that he's a world champion, his very modest KO total and ugly style don't exactly generate a lot of fan fare.
Those two detractions can cause opponents to overlook him. It appeared that's what happened in his last bout with Smith. Molina ultimately out-worked him and took his title.
Even with that respectable victory, Molina is still not well known and respected. Charlo told Kevin Idec of Boxing Scene that Molina was just a stepping stone.
At a press event for the bout, Fight Hype asked Molina how many fights he'd have to win to gain some respect. Molina replied, "I don't know how many fights it's going to take or how many wins, but all I can worry about is the fight in front of me, so all I have to do is keep winning every single fight…I know it's going to be tough; nothing's easy. I don't want it easy either."
(You can see the entire interview in the video below.)
On Saturday, he'll again be fighting to prove himself.
This is going to be a very tough fight for Charlo. Molina is great at what he does. He makes the fight ugly. He frustrates opponents and he has good defense and a solid chin.
Charlo's biggest challenge is going to be remaining poised and fighting off frustration. The fight is going to go the distance.
There will likely be a good number of rounds that are difficult to score. However, Charlo will walk away with the title by a close majority decision.
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