Jermell Charlo: Young, Mature, Student Of The Game

(June 22, 2012 – Source: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America)

Metaphors are something that Jermell Charlo likes to use when speaking. When speaking of his maturity, Charlo made the comparisons to his dread locks; how when he first started to grow them, they were small. With time, they have matured in length as he has, both in a human being and in the ring. After Saturday’s performance, Charlo is a fighter that should be on everyone’s “Prospect to watch list.”

Charlo (18-0-0, 9 KOs) scored a one-punch knockout over Denis Douglin in the fifth round of their scheduled 10 rounder. His technique displayed maturity and the overall comfort in the ring. Along with the quality training of Ronnie Shields, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

“It’s like a blessing in disguise, it’s awesome. Ronnie Shields trained Vernon Forrest; he was able to be in the corner when Vernon Forrest beat (Sugar) Shane Mosley. That was one of the biggest fights at that time, he has a gift. [Shields’] perception of what people think and know about him is really different from how he truly is. Ronnie Shields is like a coach, a father, a grandfather, and a mentor, he’s everything,” Charlo said.

Jermell Charlo might have been unknown to most of the casual fans before Saturday but he’s very well-seasoned and a student of the game. Aside from being under the tutelage of a world class trainer, having Ronnie Shields in his corner has its benefits. One of those benefits is the world class sparing that comes with being in a stable of a world class trainer.  Charlo shared a list of fighters he has shared the ring with.

“I trained with Juan Diaz, Dominick Quinn, Raul Martinez, Jesse James Leija, Jesus Chavez, Evander Holyfield, Mike Lee, Tomasz Adamek, Chris Arreola, Erislandy Lara,” Charlo said. Charlo added, “That’s the only sparring partner that I have now, and I am his [Erislandy Lara] main sparring partner. It’s not like you got this big fights coming up you need to pay me type of thing, no. We actually train together daily. We just have different fitness coaches which is a good thing. We don’t want to be alike. Your strong in this aspect, I’m strong in this aspect what can I help you with? I wound up knocking out Chris Chatman [because in training] Lara came at me with some power and aggression throughout that whole training camp. Think about me, I was on the hunt for a second, I came in there I’m taller than Lara so I fought on the outside. I threw hundreds of punches, did a lot of things just mixing it up. (In preparation for Williams fight) He does have a lot more experience than me in boxing so I take everything that I can take in from Lara. Which, it’s a great thing I love training with him. We’d be wore out at the end of the week, every week we wore out just because of how hard we train, we do eight rounds sometimes straight. Trust me with a hard puncher like him I don’t know too many right handers that can just jump in there [Ring] with him and do it on a daily,” said Charlo.

I asked Jermell Charlo on the language barrier between him and Erislandy Lara, as far as how they communicate (being that Lara doesn’t speak English).

“He’s learning some English and I’m here speaking some Spanish, I probably know more Spanish than Ronnie Shields. My girlfriend is Spanish, so if it’s hot in the gym I’ll tell [Lara] mucho caliente, you know stuff like that. We have this communication as if you’re talking to someone but you’re really not. If we’re in the ring together he’ll [Lara] tell you come forward but he’ll move his hand and motion. We don’t have a problem what’s so ever communicating. If we do end up wanting to talk about something deeper we’ll have someone translate,” said Charlo.

The fact that Jermell Charlo could speak Spanish intrigued me, so much so that I asked him about it. “I have been around it for five years because my girlfriend is Spanish.” Jermell Charlo has a son that turns 3 years old in August, which reminded me of the father-son relationship he has with Ronnie Shields. Ronnie has been a voice of reason throughout the years for Charlo and has taken a vital role in his life.

Charlo added, “Ronnie is a teacher you’re able to grow and learn from him. Before I even had a son Ronnie said: you know I know how this game goes [speaking as Ronnie] you need to not have any kids, it can be a setback, and if you do have kids we going to work through it, figure a way to work around it. Ronnie was and is just always there, that’s what he’s good at, so just imagine inside the ring. When it comes to your opponent he studies [tape] at night time. He takes time out his day with his family just to go watch your opponent. It’s like, that’s what makes him a great trainer. Lots of trainers are known for what they known for Freddie Roach, Emmanuel Steward, like for having fighters that have been in big fights but do they actually take the time out to figure their fighter out? Find out the personality of their fighter, being able to have different conversations on multiple levels. Do they do that? Do a lot of coaches do that? No they don’t! And that’s what makes [Ronnie Shields] different.”

Jermell Charlo is a student of the game and it’s an attribute that’s evident in his ring generalship as well as our conversation. When discussing the fact that his double jab was a key factor and circumstantial to both his knock down and knockout, Charlo said, “If you look at one of my fights, I think March 2010, I was starting to develop it. To be honest I watched Zab Judah and if you watch the way Zab Judah placed his double jab, right hand back in the day it was real nice. One day after watching him I stood up and tried it boom, boom, boom. So throwing the double jab, right hand, it felt good. I was like wow, that felt kind of good, and it’s a set up punch. As a matter of fact, it’s three punches I kept saying wow. So in the gym, going along as you know I got power, and I’m throwing a double jab right hand; let me see if I can master this. So it’s about when I started mastering things.”

 Charlo is always learning and looking to add to his arsenal of boxing weapons.  He’s a student, not shy or embarrassed to say he’s willing to try new things, or willing to pick up from other fighters. That humbleness and honesty will take him far. He’s working on a new tool he picked up from Guillermo Rigondeaux (formally trainer by Ronnie Shields). Not a bad guy to learn something from, Guillermo became a champion after his ninth fight by stopping the then unbeaten Rico Ramos. Charlo added, “I can honestly say I’m [starting to like] the body shot that Guillermo Rigondeaux is throwing, I’m liking that! [I like] punches Lara is throwing, so I just learn from each fighter. I just take it and put it in my own style and its mines now!”

Jermell Charlo and had spoke twice on the current state of boxing and failed drug test P.E.D’s etc. “I faithfully believe in god, I know that if you cheat, that means that your weak in your mind and in your body if you have to do something like that.” Charlo’s honesty and humbleness is what attracted me as a fan, but of course having the skills in the ring doesn’t hurt either.



for full audio of this interview click here:

Follow Jermell Charlo on twitter @twincharlo