A victory over Canelo could change Charlo’s life forever

The Sporting Tribune's Alan Dawson profiles Jermell Charlo after spending time with him before his fight against Canelo Alvarez.

LAS VEGAS — American millionaire Jermell Charlo lives like a king in a Houston home fit for MTV Cribs.

During a pandemic-era video tour for social media, Charlo said the “staircase game” in his house “is crazy” as there are divided flights through the entrance and the foyer. There’s a pantry the size of a New York City bedroom, high ceilings, a shoe garage that’s “ridiculous,” a home theater, and a basketball court and swimming pool that adorn an expansive, landscaped backyard.

From the outside looking in, boxing is a sport that has already changed Charlo’s life as he can be seen dripping in ice, with heavy chains, wearing Balenciaga, and driving fast cars when he leaves his home.

But when you speak to him, it’s not just about his luxury abode and flashy apparel, but all about his family, and affording them a lifestyle they may not have had if it weren’t for his extraordinary abilities in the ring.

Having reached the top of the super welterweight division, after elite wins over Erickson Lubin, Austin Trout, Tony Harrison, Jeison Rosario, and Brian Castano, few can logically argue against Charlo being one of the sport’s very best fighters.

But on Saturday, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, he faces the toughest test of his entire career when he leaves the 154-pound weight class, leapfrogs the 160-pound middleweight division, and challenges Saul Alvarez for all of Canelo’s super middleweight world titles at 168-pounds.

“Canelo is the kind of fighter you can’t take for granted,” Charlo said at a media event The Sporting Tribune attended this week. “He’s done everything in this sport of boxing and he’s got nothing to prove.”

Charlo said the fight Saturday is his moment, that he’s coming to spring the surprise result by beating Canelo, and make history.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “I’ve backed up everything I’ve said. Right now this is my time and my moment and I’m gonna proceed and take it.”

Charlo is living his best life, and hopes to fight his best fight Saturday

Canelo vs Charlo, by Esther Lin/Showtime

If this really is Charlo’s time, and he hands Canelo the third defeat of his career, it begs the question whether he’s prepared for just how much further his life will change because of boxing.

Rather than buy Hennessy and Balenciaga, Charlo’s name-value will be catapulted so severely that there’s a chance those brands will pay him to endorse them rather than him pay to consume their products.

Canelo, after all, has gotten to the stage in his boxing career where he’s had a long relationship with drinks brand Hennessy.

Last year, he launched a cocktail range of canned tequila called TMC. This year, he made an appearance at the Superbowl starring alongside Serena Williams in a commercial for the beer brand Michelob Ultra.

He has a commercial deal with Dolce & Gabbana, and, as he’s told me before, he’s expanding his chain of convenience stores in Guadalajara — ‘Upper by Canelo Energy.’ It’s a brand he wants people to see throughout Mexico and, one day, Southern California.

His former promoter Eddie Hearn, the group chairman of Matchroom, once told me Canelo has
“got more money than God” as he’s a multi-millionaire through multiple avenues — in business,
real estate, and, obviously, sport.

That kind of wealth could open up for Charlo if he’s the one with his hand raised this weekend.

But when The Sporting Tribune put this to him backstage at the MGM Grand this week, he counter-punched the notion and insisted the only thing that’s been able to change him, really, is being around to nurture the growth of his family at home.

“My life changed after I had my son, Jermell Charlo Jr.,” said Charlo. “I have an older child, but after I had my last child I felt like my life changed. Yes, boxing did change my life and I’ve made it this far, I’m content, I’m satisfied, and I love boxing.

“If it wasn’t for the love I have for the sport, and having that warrior that’s in me, that dog, that lion that I speak on, I would have looked at this fight like, ‘Canelo, come down [in weight]. Come meet at a certain weight [like 160-pounds].’

“And I gave you what y’all wanted, the fans, the media, the world. A lot of people want to see Charlo fight him and I didn’t know that my brother would ever be ready so when that Charlo named got mentioned and caught up, why not me? I can step in and be that guy, so I put that on my back.”

Becoming the man, and, maybe … the brand

Speaking at his Grand Arrival at the MGM Grand earlier, Charlo, confident as ever, said: “After I beat Canelo, the world will be screaming ‘Charlo, Charlo!’ You dig? Now it’s my turn, my time, my moment.”

In combat sports and sports entertainment, it’s all about moments. One of the most iconic moments in WWE, then WWF, was when Rick Flair screamed: “To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man.”

Since then, many others — in other realms of pro wrestling, mixed martial arts, and especially boxing — have uttered iterations of that saying.

It’s also, most likely, true in marketing because, in 2023, to be a brand, you may well have to beat the brand.

And in boxing, there is no brand bigger than Canelo.