Jermall Charlo, a professional boxer since 2008, has boxed only twice in his hometown of Houston but has wanted to fight there again.
Now he will have his chance when he defends his interim middleweight belt for the second time when he takes on Brandon Adams on June 29 in the main event of a Showtime-televised tripleheader at NRG Arena in Houston.
“It’s time for me to put up for my city of Houston. George Foreman is back and he’s in the middleweight division,” Charlo said Friday, invoking the former heavyweight champion and longtime Houston resident after the fight was formally announced.
“That’s the way I feel about fighting in my hometown. You know how hot it gets down here in the summer, and no one is going to be able to take this heat that I’m about to deliver. I’ve been working hard with [trainer] Ronnie Shields and making some adjustments and now you’re going to see me back with the knockout power.”
Charlo (28-0, 21 KOs), 28, a former junior middleweight titlist and the twin brother of former junior middleweight titleholder Jermell Charlo, is coming off a disputed unanimous decision over Matt Korobov on Dec. 22 in Brooklyn, New York. Now he will face Adams (21-2, 13 KOs), 29, of Los Angeles, who got the fight on the strength of his winning the reboot of “The Contender” reality series in November, when he easily outpointed Shane Mosley Jr. in the final.
“I know Brandon Adams is looking at this as a big opportunity, but it’s a big step up for him,” Charlo said. “The pressure isn’t on him. It’s on me, because I’m fighting in my hometown and I’m going to deliver what the fans have come to expect from me.”
Charlo has not boxed in Houston since 2012. He also fought there in 2009.
After Adams suffered a second-round knockout loss to John Thompson in May 2015 in the final of the ESPN Boxcino junior middleweight tournament, he didn’t fight again for three years. But then he was cast as one of the participants in “The Contender” tournament and ran the table, winning all four of his bouts. It paved the way to a much bigger fight.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity and ready to prove that I belong in the conversation as one of the top fighters in the middleweight division,” Adams said. “This is an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. They must feel that I am beatable, and want to use my name that I built up on ‘The Contender,’ so now I need to show why I won ‘The Contender’ and continue my winning ways. Charlo is a solid fighter and he’s a champion for a reason. I look forward to matching skills with him and showcasing my ability.”
Said Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions, Adams’ co-promoter with Jeff Wald of The Tournament of Contenders: “This is the right fight at the right time in Brandon’s career.”
The card will also feature a pair of world title eliminators:
Junior middleweight Erickson Lubin (20-1, 15 KOs), 23, a southpaw from Orlando, Florida, and the 2016 ESPN prospect of the year, will face heavy underdog Zakaria Attou (29-6-2, 7 KOs), 37, of France, who will be making his United States debut. The winner will move a step closer to a mandatory shot at the 154-pound title held by Tony Harrison.
Featherweight Eduardo Ramirez (22-1-3, 9 KOs), 26, of Mexico, will meet former interim titlist Claudio Marrero (23-3, 17 KOs), 30, of the Dominican Republic, in a fight between southpaws that will position the winner for a mandatory bout with regular titlist Xu Can. Ramirez challenged for a featherweight world title in December 2017 and lost a decision to Lee Selby but has won both of his fights since by knockout. Marrero is coming off a decision loss to Tugstsogt Nyambayar in January.