LAS VEGAS — On September 30 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, American boxer Jermell Charlo leaves the super welterweight division behind and leapfrogs the middleweight division entirely to make his debut at super middleweight.
It’s not like Charlo is even taking an easy fight first so he can get accustomed to boxing at the 168-pound limit.
He’s targeted the undisputed champion at that weight class, and one of the biggest-name athletes in all combat sports — Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Though ‘Canelo’ has labored to the finish line in recent fights, the 33-year-old remains one of boxing’s best combatants because of his championship wins in four weight classes, including victories over Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Gennadiy Golovkin, and Caleb Plant.
Only Floyd Mayweather and Dmitry Bivol have ever officially defeated him on the scorecards.
It would be remarkable company to join should Charlo strike a third “L” on Canelo’s record, after winning all of the major world titles available in his former division.
The 33-year-old Texan is the underdog for good reason. In boxing, you see, weight matters. These divisions exist for a reason as weight, and the additional physical advantages that it can bring, can help determine the outcome of matches.
Mythical pound-for-pound lists help determine who the best fighters are in the sport regardless of weight class.
Currently, athletes like Terence Crawford, Naoya Inoue, and Oleksandr Usyk populate the top three spots by consensus.
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe recently pondered on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter, where Charlo could rank on such a list should he break the bookmakers by beating ‘Canelo’.
During a roundtable discussion featuring some of the world’s foremost boxing coaches, The Sporting Tribune put the question to a panel that included Robert Garcia, Calvin Ford, and Ronnie Shields.
“I think the win would be so big I’d put him right behind Terence Crawford,” elite coach Robert Garcia told us.
Crawford shot to the top of the pound-for-pound list after his July 29 bout against long-time welterweight rival Errol Spence Jr. in Las Vegas.
The 147-pound battle was widely regarded to be a contest as close to 50-50 as can be, however, within a couple of rounds it was clear there were levels of skill, speed, and execution between the two boxers.
This is not to say Spence is not a classy operator himself. No. His title-winning victories over Kell Brook, Shawn Porter, and Yordenis Ugas tell their own story.
But what it demonstrated was that Crawford is a generational boxer — one who should remain at the top, regardless of if, and how, Charlo defeats ‘Canelo’ at the end of the month, according to the three coaches.
“I still think Terence Crawford would be No.1 but I’d put [Jermell] right behind him at No.2,” Garcia told us.
“I second that,” Calvin Ford, the trainer for power-punching lightweight Gervonta Davis, then said.
“And this is the thing that gets me with the rankings: When somebody does something that somebody else ain’t done, and it’s a significant win, it pushes boxing forward … it should be there.
“You look at the win that [Crawford] had, that was something great that he had done,” Ford said, adding that a Charlo win would similarly represent something great that few others, if anybody, had done before.
“So, what Robert just said, I agree 100% as it puts [Jermell] right up there with him.”
Ronnie Shields, who coached Charlo before the fighter linked up with Derrick James, agreed.
“I don’t know about No.1,” he told The Sporting Tribune. “I’m like these guys, I’d say No.2.
“You’ve got to give Crawford his props right now. [But Canelo vs. Charlo is] such a big fight with guys in their prime. I would have to say No.2 behind Crawford.”
One thing all the coaches also agreed on, was just how big this fight is — it’s another event that is in keeping with a general theme in 2023 for boxing in the US, and particularly in Las Vegas.
“Boxing needs these kinds of fights,” Garcia told us. “And I’m so glad we’ve had a lot of them recently. It’s been such a great year and it’s just getting better and better.”
The Canelo vs. Charlo event airs as a pay-per-view for an $84.99 price point on Showtime Sports.
The card is fortified with other ppv fights between Jesus Ramos and Erickson Lubin, Ugas and Mario Barrios, and Elijah Garcia and Armando Resendiz.