Stephen Espinoza of Showtime Sports says he’s finalizing a fight for WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo to return to the ring after a two-year layoff in June or July against a “credible” opponent to get him prepared for a more significant match for later this year against someone like Carlos Adames.
Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) has been out of action since his last title defense against Juan Macias Montiel in June 2021, dealing with injury and personal problems.
Espinoza says it wouldn’t be fair to the 32-year-old Charlo for him to take a tough fight given his inactivity, so the plan is to have him take a tune-up in the summer.
Although Espinoza didn’t hint at who the opponent might be, it may be #5 WBC Maciej Sulecki (30-2, 11 KOs). That’s who Charlo was supposed to fight last year, but the contest failed to happen after he suffered an injury.
Like Charlo, Sulecki hasn’t fought in two years since 2021, and he surprisingly hasn’t lost his #5 ranking with the WBC despite being out of the ring for an extended period. Typically fighters that are inactive for two or more years lose their ranking, but not in the case of Sulecki.
It’s unknown why the WBC didn’t strip Jermall of his middleweight title because he hasn’t fought in two years, and it’s not fair to the contenders that have been sitting and waiting all this time for their title shot.
Jermall Charlo fighting in June or July
“Jermall Charlo is the most intriguing name out there. He hasn’t fought since June 2021. He came back recently on social media and said, ‘I’ll be back this June,’ which would be around the two-year anniversary of his last fight,” said Chris Mannix to The Volume about the inactive WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo.
“Are you expecting him to be added to the calendar at the end of June? What are the realistic expectations for Jermall Charlo being off this long?”
“I do expect him; whether it’s June or early July, somewhere around there, it makes sense. We’re close to finalizing the fight,” said Stephen Espinoza of Showtime about the inactive Charlo.
“I’m going to be completely candid; he has been off two years with an injury and personal issues to be sorted out. He is anxious to be back in the ring. I think, being completely candid, 160 isn’t the deepest division.
“There’s very good talent at the top, but there’s a gap once you get past the top names. I don’t think it’s fair to ask him to come off the injury and some time off to take on the toughest opponent at the top of the list.
“It’s clearly NOT going to be [Carlos] Adames or someone like that, but I think it’ll be a credible fight, and then I’d look to see a meaningful fight like Adames for the next fight for later on this year,” said Espinoza.
Many options for Charlo at 168
“If he goes to 168, there’s a former two-division world titleholder hanging out in the PBC universe now. An undefeated American trash talker,” said Mannix talking about Demetrius Andrade.
“Checking my watch. We’re seven minutes into the interview. You waited seven minutes to bring up Demetrius Andrade,” said Espinoza.
“I did, and he’s been off for so long too. These guys are so inactive. Get back in there and fight each other,” said Mannix.
“Well, look, for once, I agree with you,” said Espinoza.
“That’s a backhanded compliment right there,” said Mannix. ”
“In March, we have a big fight with Benavidez-Plant. Canelo seems to have other plans for the foreseeable future. Maybe he secures the Bivol fight in the fall, or maybe he doesn’t.,” said Espinoza.
“Let’s assume he’s true to his word, and he does that. Then the rest of the guys, you throw their names in the hat. Benavidez-Plant, Charlo if he moves up there, Morrell and Andrade.There’s plenty of talent there, plenty of good fights.
“I don’t see why Andrade or anyone else in that pool can’t do high-level fights even without Canelo in the mix,” said Espinoza.
“I think that operates as a great opportunity for somebody to separate and go into 2024 for Canelo as the only one to fight in May,” said Mannix. “Like you said, all that talent is there. It’s all under the same umbrella.
“Benavidez is probably the most talented guy of the bunch. Plant is pretty accomplished, and Andrade is pretty accomplished. If somebody comes out of there with two quality wins, there’s going to be a mandate to face Canelo next year,” said Mannix.