On Saturday night, Jermall “The Hitman” Charlo (32-0) defended his WBC Middleweight title and undefeated record against the first time title challenger, Juan Macias Montiel (22-5-2).
The bout headlined the card which took place at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX, in what was built as a celebratory event for the Houston native Charlo on the Juneteenth Holiday.
Charlo, coming off his most impressive victory to date over Sergiy Derevyanchenko, looked to build on to his 160 pound title reign and earn a shot at a blockbuster type fight against the likes of Canelo or GGG.
Meanwhile, Montiel challenged for a World Title for the first time in his career coming off back-to-back victories, most notably his knockout of former Junior Middleweight champion, James Kirkland.
Aside from the contest itself, Charlo looked to put on a special performance for his hometown on the newly minted “Charlo Day” in Houston which coincided with Juneteenth, a Holiday with particular significance in the area due to its originating in Texas.
On paper, Montiel didn’t offer much of a challenge to the ever-impressive Charlo, but did offer an interesting and potentially entertaining stylistic matchup.
Boy, did he ever.
Early in the fight, both fighters eased into the fight as Charlo attempted to decode the unique style of Montiel while Montiel utilized footwork and stance changes to move around the ring and confuse the champ. That warmup was certainly brief.
The third round marked a notable increase in action, with both fighters meeting in the center of the ring. While they exchanged blows, Charlo had the clear advantage in landed shots and power. However, in those early rounds, the power did little to dissuade the game challenger.
In the 5th, Charlo landed a blistering right hand that sent Montiel to the ropes on unsteady legs. Charlo rushed in to finish the show, but was unable to as the Mexican challenger once again showed his chin and toughness and miraculously survived.
As the next round began, Charlo once again sent his explosive right hand which yet again threw the challenger into the ropes. Montiel fought the rest of the round seemingly dazed as he waved the champion into the corner, again weathering a number of shots by Charlo.
The challenger eventually found his way back to the center of the ring, eating a clean check left hook from the Houston native which seemed the most significant single shot in a fight full of significant shots.
In the 8th round, Charlo’s activity seemed to catch up to him as his fatigue was evident. Montiel scored his best shot of the fight, wobbling the champion momentarily and injuring the champion’s right eye.
In the 11th, which was the first championship round for Montiel, the challenger landed a body shot that stunned the champ. However, Charlo was able to battle back in what was likely the closest round of the action packed fight.
Ultimately, Charlo fought his way to a technically one-sided, but hard fought battle against a surviving Montiel who had scattered, yet dramatic, moments of success. The fight certainly seemed destined for a finish, but Montiel displayed his heart and grit to survive, proving he belonged in the ring with a champion.
There will likely be criticism of Charlo’s inability to end the show, but the focus should be on giving credit to Montiel, who came to the fight in prime form and to Charlo’s grit and fast paced performance. Charlo threw over 750 punches, the most of his career, landing a number of fight-ending type punches, and ate a few of them himself.
After the Unanimous Decision victory, Charlo still has his sights set on the top of the sport, calling out GGG and Canelo in the ring following the bout. However, a more likely fight to be made could be against a fellow June 19th competitor in Munguia.
Either way, Jermall Charlo has proven once again to be among the best at 160 and must see T.V., but a compelling opponent wouldn’t hurt, either.