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Jermell Charlo vs. Charlie Ota: Preview and Prediction for Upcoming Bout

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2014

Jermell Charlo vs. Charlie Ota: Preview and Prediction for Upcoming Bout

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Saturday night in Montreal, Jermell Charlo, one-half of the undefeated Charlo twins, returns to action against fellow junior middleweight contender Charlie Ota. 

    Jermell and his brother Jermall have developed into sensations in the sport. Boxers since their preteen years, they were standout amateurs and have excelled so far in the professional ranks. 

    Ota is the Japanese junior middleweight champion, for what it's worth.

Tale of the Tape

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    Per Boxrec      Jermell Charlo     Charlie Ota
    Record:      23-0, 11 KOs      24-1-1, 16 KOs 
    Height:      5'11"      5'6" 
    Reach:      73"      Unlisted
    Weight:      154 lbs     154 lbs 
    Age:     24      32 
    Stance:      Orthodox     Orthodox 
    Hometown:      Houston, Texas      Tokyo, Japan
    Rounds:     135     170 

    Jermell Charlo is the far longer fighter and has the slick style to exploit that advantage. He's nearly a decade younger yet still much more experienced when his amateur career is factored into the equation.

    Charlie Ota was born Charlie Bellamy in Harlem, New York. He settled in Japan and turned professional as a boxer after serving there with the Navy.

Main Storylines

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    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    The Charlo twins, Jermell and Jermall, are steadily developing into one of boxing's big stories. The 24-year-old brothers are trained by the elite Ronnie Shields. They are former amateur standouts and viewed as potential stars of the future.

    Jermell took a big step in that direction earlier this year when he thoroughly handled tough journeyman Gabriel Rosado, winning a unanimous decision. I thought Charlo's work against Rosado was more impressive than middleweight champion Peter Quillin's performance against the same opponent last year. Charlo also looked far better against Rosado than undefeated super middleweight contender J'Leon Love.

    It was the kind of one-sided fight that left boxing fans hungry for more. The 154-pound division tends to be full of talent, but there is always room for another potential superstar, if he has the talent to make that room.

    Charlie Ota was born Charlie Bellamy in Harlem, New York. He settled in Japan after serving a stint there with the U.S. Navy. He did not take up boxing until 24, but he's been a quick learner and has developed into the top welterweight/junior middleweight of his adopted country.

    Ota has a much better record than Rosado did, but he's also faced far inferior competition. He's definitely never fought a talent like Jermell Charlo. Ota has a major opportunity facing him as an opponent for the fast-tracking Charlo, but it won't be an easy one to capitalize on.

Strengths

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    Jermell Charlo is a talented athlete and well-trained boxer. He's an accurate puncher with good reach and fast hands. He excels at beating opponents to the punch.

    He moves well behind his quick, snapping jab and uses the jab, as well as feints, to set up an effective straight right. He uses his quick feet to control range. He is very good at changing levels and slipping or turning away from punches.

    Charlie Ota is a solid boxer. He has good movement and uses a variety of punches. He can back opponents up with straight flurries and can slip into range behind uppercuts and hooks.

    He is a compact, rugged fighter. He's strong and has some pop.

Weaknesses

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    Jermell Charlo is so confident in the ring, at times he has looked almost too casual, leading him to get caught with punches I'm not sure he needs to absorb.

    His punching power has to be respected, but as a guy who doesn't score a ton of knockouts, he allows opponents who aren't as good as him the chance to hang around and threaten him late.

    Charlie Ota has a tendency to cover up in his guard and wait for the space to counter. Against a very quick fighter who hits and moves like Charlo, he will risk being lit up again and again. In the footage here of Ota sparring with Saul Alvarez, Ota's hands looked a little slow compared to Canelo's.

    There's some very good boxing in Japan, but most of it is lightweight and below. Ota may be eight years older than Charlo, but he hasn't faced the same quality of opposition as the younger fighter.

Jermell Charlo Will Win If...

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Jermell Charlo should look to establish a stiff, snapping jab while moving on the outside against Charlie Ota in the early rounds. Charlo should be able to harass and frustrate the shorter man with quick, straight flurries from well beyond Ota's range.

    If Charlo can catch Ota with his hands frozen in front of his face in a high guard, he should get aggressive, drive Ota backward and move in with a sharp uppercut designed to split the guard.

    Once Ota is banged up and frustrated, Charlo should lead him on a game of chase, allowing the younger fighter to set up dangerous traps when he resets and counters.

Charlie Ota Will Win If...

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    Charlie Ota is going to be in for a long night if he allows himself to get frozen out at the end of Jermell Charlo's superior length or starts following Charlo around the ring, failing to cut him off.

    Ota has to figure out a way to work inside of the longer fighter, and he has to cut off the ring instead of merely pursuing him. He has to keep Charlo in front of him, which will require him to step with Charlo more often than stepping toward him.

    Ota should look to jab and hook to the body, attempting to rough up the slick youngster and slow him down. He should also be willing to sell out and let his hands go if he sees an opening.

    He's going to have to hurt Charlo to beat him. A shocking KO could be his best chance, because I don't see Ota winning enough rounds to pull off the upset.

Prediction

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    I think Jermell Charlo's unanimous-decision win over Gabriel Rosado last January remains among the year's most eye-opening performances. Rosado has had a tough-luck career, so his record partly obscures his world-class ability.

    I had Rosado fighting on even terms with Peter Quillin before the fight was stopped on cuts, and I felt that he beat J'Leon Love by a comfortable margin in a split-decision loss that was later turned into a no-contest, after Love failed a post-fight drug test. Quillin is the WBO middleweight champion, and Love remains an unbeaten contender at super middleweight.

    So when 24-year-old junior middleweight Charlo completely pounded Rosado, I took note. It was a statement performance by a young fighter who has been highly touted since his youth.

    I just can't see a fighter like Charlie Ota, with limited physical gifts and experience, coming in Saturday night and derailing Charlo's momentum. I expect this fight to be close to a shutout on the cards and wouldn't be surprised by a late stoppage.

    Going forward, Charlo should be zeroing in on a title shot of some kind or at least a showdown with a top-five opponent.

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