Jermell Charlo has legacy, not money, on his mind in fight for undisputed status with Brian Castano

After having flirted with the periphery of the sport’s top 10 pound-for-pound list throughout two reigns as 154-pound titleholder, the only thing unified super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo has seemingly lacked up to this point is a defining victory.  

At 31, it would be hard to find anyone disputing whether Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) and his sublime combination of power and speed is world class. Charlo made a strong case for consideration as the sport’s best 154-pounder last fall when he co-headlined his first pay-per-view card (alongside twin brother Jermall) and knocked out Jeison Rosario to unify a trio of world titles. His lone defeat — a disputed decision against Tony Harrison in 2018 — was avenged the following year by knockout.  

So what about that defining fight to cement himself as one of the best super middleweight champions of the modern era? Charlo gets his shot for just that on Saturday when he defends his WBC, WBA and IBF titles against unbeaten WBO titleholder Brian Castaño inside AT&T Center in San Antonio (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET) to declare the first undisputed champion at 154 pounds in the four-belt era.

“I do consider myself as one of the best fighters on the planet. I’m pushing myself everyday,” Charlo said. “My ambition is different and my determination is there. To fight for the four-belt era and an undisputed championship, now it’s my turn. Brian Castaño is in the way and I’m not underestimating nobody. I know for a fact what I’ve got to deal with.  

“I want to bite and kill anything I get in the ring with. I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is.” 

Listen to any Charlo interview and it’s easy to hear just how much the Houston native is passionate about separating himself from everyone else in the sport, including the shadow of his brother Jermall, the unbeaten WBC middleweight champion who formerly held the same title at 154 pounds.  

As Showtime’s “All Access” pre-fight documentary series did a great job of capturing ahead of this fight, the Charlo twins often carry themselves publicly with such a large chip on their shoulder that even their own flesh and blood aren’t safe from each other’s wrath. While Jermell clearly has love for his brother despite their often hot-and-cold relationship, there’s certainly a level of competition between them.

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On one hand, becoming the first undisputed four-belt champion at 154 pounds allows Charlo to stand out. It’s an accomplishment that Charlo was quick to mention “even the great Floyd Mayweather” had never accomplished.  

But even though further etching his name in history is a huge part of Charlo’s motivation entering this fight, it still takes a backseat for Charlo, a –240 betting favorite per William Hill Sportsbook, to the accomplishment of going mano a mano with an unbeaten and rugged champion like Castaño and coming out on top.  

“The belts don’t make me, I just want to fight. That’s all I have been doing since I was 8 years old,” Charlo said. “I’m a warrior. I’m just here to fight and be very vicious. The best man will win, that’s all I care about. I’m going to push myself all the way through. 

“I consider myself very dangerous. I’m a fighter that don’t give a f—. I’m a fighter that wants whatever. You coming to hurt me? I’m coming to kill, too. I want all that. I don’t care about this or that, [or what] everybody is thinking.” 

One thing that Charlo knows about Saturday is that he should expect possibly the stiffest challenge of his career from the all-action Castaño. A native of Argentina, the 31-year-old has continued to improve each time he has stepped up in class and has made his reputation on a style that involves never taking a backwards step inside the ring.  

 “I’ve never lost a fight. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I won’t let it pass me by,” Castaño said. “This is one of the most important fights in Argentina’s history. It’s for four belts, undisputed at 154 pounds. Charlo is a great fighter, there’s no doubt about it. But I came here to do my job and I’m going to come forward. I’m the type of fighter that is always going after you. I’m always there to pressure you. Even though Charlo said that I don’t have anything he hasn’t seen before, he has never seen anybody with my fighting style.” 

The only blemish on Castaño’s professional career — a 2019 split draw to then-WBA titleholder Erislandy Lara — conveniently doubles as his best performance against the toughest challenge of his career. Castaño got inside of the slick Lara repeatedly and scored to the body with his two-fisted attack.  

Castaño followed up the draw with two more important victories by stopping veteran Wale Omotoso to close 2019 before taking a wide decision from Brazil’s Patrick Teixeira in February following a long layoff to claim the WBO title.  

There’s no doubt Castaño will need to employ as sturdy a chin as he has shown to date in order to endure the one-punch knockout power of Charlo, an efficient counter striker who has scored a trio of knockouts since 2019 against Jorge Cota, Harrison and Rosario.

It’s the contrasting styles at the end of the day that make this matchup so good as Charlo looks to snipe from the outside against a grinder like Castaño who is hellbent on getting inside of his opponent’s jab to maul at close range.  

“I haven’t punched Castaño yet so I don’t know what his chin will do when I hit him,” Charlo said. “Castaño is going to leave everything in the ring, so we’re not playing any games. I know he’s got a big heart. I’m just going to do what I do. You’re going to see a more developed Jermell Charlo. I guarantee you’re going to see a top pound-for-pound fighter. At any point, this fight could be over with.” 

However the fight plays out, Charlo is just happy to be at this stage in his career with a hungry fellow champion that is willing to face him. Although this fight will be contested for four world titles, the focus for Charlo is more centered upon maximizing what’s left of his physical prime by facing the toughest opponents available to him.  

“It was due time to get in there for this fight. The belts and the money are not on my mind. What’s on my mind is the legacy,” Charlo said. “Not a lot of people get these opportunities. This fight is going to solidify a lot of different things in people’s minds about the Charlos. 

 “I know what I possess in the ring. When it’s time to fight, I instantly become the best warrior that there is out there.” 

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