For most of the second half of his defense of his WBC middleweight title against Juan Macias Montiel on Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston, Jermall Charlo was battering Montiel and seemingly on the verge of a knockout.
Starting in about the sixth, Charlo pushed hard to get the finish in front of an adoring hometown crowd. But he also wanted to make a statement to fellow middleweight champions Gennadiy Golovkin and Demetrius Andrade that he is the top man in the division.
He got the victory, impressively, but by no means did he live up to trainer Ronnie Shields’ bold, pre-fight words. Shields had said before the fight that Charlo was “without a doubt” the best middleweight in the world.
That can be debated, but Charlo certainly didn’t win over any doubters with his performance on Saturday.
Montiel showed a great chin and a strong fighting spirit, but as a -3300 favorite, Charlo struggled to close the show.
He landed a series of hard shots throughout the fight and was handily winning every round. But he never put Montiel down and never seemed to have him in serious jeopardy. Montiel staggered at the start of the seventh, but by the end of it, he was battling with Charlo on even terms.
Charlo won a unanimous decision, by scores of 118-109, 119-109 and 120-108. Yahoo Sports had it 120-108 for Charlo, giving him every round.
“He was a real warrior to get into the ring with me,” Charlo said. “He fought hard each and every round.”
It’s rare that a victory as wide as Charlo scored would be deemed disappointing, but he was a massive favorite and Montiel did not have a very high quality of opposition.
While Montiel was gritty and tough and proved he could take a punch, he didn’t put up much of a threat. Still, Charlo threw everything he had at him and couldn’t get rid of him.
If Golovkin had hit Montiel with that many punches, it’s inconceivable he could have finished on his feet.
Still, Charlo showed boxing skills, good conditioning and poise. He didn’t get rattled when he couldn’t finish Montiel and kept doing what was working. It was a veteran effort from Charlo, even if the bout didn’t make him many new fans.
“I never got concerned,” Charlo said. “The best fighters in the world make the best adjustments.”
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