Charlo's stirring stoppage win over Brian Castano made him the first ever undisputed 154-pound champion in the four-belt era -- and to many, proved he is the best fighter in the sport today.
To some it might seem such a simple word. Who could think that a mere 10 letters and four syllables would carry such far-reaching import and significance?
But to any boxer with aspirations of being acknowledged as the very best in his weight class, so much so that any claim to such is beyond debate or argument, “undisputed,” or its translated equivalent, is the most cherished word in any language. It elevates a fighter’s status beyond that of a mere alphabet world champion, or a holder of a rung on all those unofficial pound-for-pound ratings which basically boil down to someone’s subjective opinion. Only seven male boxers have ever made it all the way to entry into that ultra-exclusive throne room, and membership should and does have its privileges.
WBC/WBA/IBF 154-pound World Champion Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo attained his golden U-ticket with an action-packed, 10th-round knockout of WBO Champ Brian Castano of Argentina, the other possible claimant, on May 14 at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. They had fought once before, on June 17, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas, with both parties retaining their respective titles on a hard-fought split draw, but neither taking possession of the crown and scepter reserved for the fight game’s undisputed 154-pound ruler.
No such ambiguity exists by virtue of the culmination of Charlo’s thoroughly efficient and workmanlike breaking down of the valiant Castano, who went down twice in the 10th round, referee Jerry Cantu waving an end to an epic two-way demonstration of will and skill after an elapsed time of 2 minutes, 33 seconds.
It was Jermell’s only ring appearance of the year, but it was more than enough for the younger of the two fighting identical Charlo twins – older brother (by one minute) Jermall is the WBC World Middleweight Champion – for the aptly nicknamed “Iron Man” to earn another coveted designation, that of the Premier Boxing Champions Fighter of the Year. Given what was at stake, and the back-and-forth slugfest which was required to separate one extremely worthy fighter from the other, Jermell has ample justification for basking in the glow of his rare undisputed classification.
Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), who also moved up several places on most unofficial P4P rankings as compiled by reasonably knowledgable media observers, should be delighted with his new and improved place among boxing’s elite performers, and no doubt he will express that in the lead-up to his first defense of his expanded monarchy. But in the immediate aftermath of the most important victory of his career, Charlo felt it was necessary to alert some of his critics that he had made himself, at least for now, invulnerable to any aspersions as to his ability or his accomplishments.
“ I’m still growing, still learning. ” Undisputed Super Welterweight World Champion - Jermell Charlo
“Even if you don’t really respect or like our attitude, or the way I box and how I move, you got no choice but to respect this champion – undisputed!” he told reporters attending the post-fight press conference after his emphatic separation from Castano.
Truth be told, Jermell’s ascension to his sport’s uppermost tier has been as much of a slog at times as it has been an express elevator to the penthouse suite. Initially, he and Jermall were packaged for marketing purposes as a dual entry, each appearing separately on several early cards. But, as is often the case with identical twins, always being viewed as parts of a package deal caused some friction. A split of sort came when Jermell, who had been trained by Ronnie Shields as was Jermall, opted to switch to Derrick James, who believed that Jermell, who had won four straight fights by decision, had an underutilized power component.
In his first bout with James as his chief second, Jermell starched former WBA super welter titlist Joachim Alcine in six rounds on October 31, 2015.
“Derrick James came into the picture and said, `Hey, your punches are there,” Jermell recalled some years ago. `You want to throw them. You want to hit hard. Let’s become a puncher as well as a boxer.’”
Nor were James and Jermell the only forecasters of what the future might hold. In 2014 Jermall said, “Five years from now, we’ll (the brothers Charlo) have every belt in the junior middleweight division.”
That prediction has indeed come true, a couple of years past the envisioned date, but Jermell now holds all the belts at 154 with Jermall continuing to campaign at middleweight, with a possible eye to moving up a weight class or even two.
Not surprisingly, the 32-year-old Jermell doesn’t believe he has plateaued at a weight where he not only feels comfortable, but has a chance to further build upon his newly established foundation as the undisputed king of the super welters.
“I’m still growing, still learning,” he said after finally vanquishing the stubborn and capable Castano. “I can learn from this fight. I learned from previous fights. I got power, I got movement. I’m trying to be great.”
That, too, seems a goal capable of being reached by PBC’s 2022 Fighter of the Year.
For a closer look at Jermell Charlo, check out his fighter page.
An epic back and forth between top 154-pounders ends with Sebastian Fundora scoring his biggest victory to date and a valiant Erickson Lubin gaining a new legion of fans.
Sebastian Fundora knew what was going on inside. The 6-foot, 5½-inch “Towering Inferno” has known all along. It was just a matter of everyone else in boxing seeing the unseen measure that goes into making stars into superstars. It often comes with a push, and on Saturday night, April 9, 2022, at The Theatre At Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, in Las Vegas, Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin provided the right foil to produce what Fundora always knew about himself.
Fundora, the rail-thin, 24-year-old from Coachella, California, received the test of his young boxing life that night in a Premier Boxing Champions event on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing. For the first time, he was knocked down and in trouble. For the first time as a pro, his mental strength was being challenged, his fortitude shoved face down.
How would he react? Would he cower, or rise?
Resting on his left knee against the ropes after absorbing a cascade of punches, Fundora rose in the ring, and his status in boxing rose with it when he came overcame a seventh-round knockdown to force Lubin to retire in the ninth round.
The fight featured two knockdowns and movie-like back-and-forth action to earn Lubin vs. Fundora the Premier Boxing Champion’s 2022 honor of the Fight of the Year.
“I think this was probably my best performance ever,” Fundora said after the fight. “It was a back-and-forth fight, and he really brough his hammers today, but you know what, I decided to bring my drill and that’s what I did. My uppercut was landing like no other, it got the job done.”
Each southpaw fighter scored a knockdown. Each fighter showed impeccable heart getting up from those knockdowns. Each fighter dragged and flogged the will of the other.
In the end, it was Fundora who not only came out on top but benefitted greatly from staring down the barrel of adversity for the first time in his career and beat it. If there were any doubts about the collegial-looking Fundora, he answered them emphatically.
He started well, pulling off a sweet move in the second round, drawing Lubin in with a feint, then unfurling a right uppercut that caught Lubin perfectly on the tip of the chin, sending him down for the third time in his career. Lubin, trying to balance himself on wobbly feet, didn’t look like he would make it out of the round.
“I hit him with one uppercut, and I saw that it rocked him,” Fundora said. “So, I did it again and again and again. I knew the uppercut was going to land. He said he was going to come out and fight me and he did. Hats off to him.”
It took Lubin a couple rounds to regain his footing.
By the seventh, it was his turn.
With :38 left in that frame, Lubin stunned Fundora with a right hook that got through his high shield. Lubin had Fundora backing up for one of the rare times in his career and taking heat. Defenseless and taking blows to the head and face, Fundora had the awareness under the strain to take a knee.
“I got hit with a good punch and I didn’t feel like I needed to get hit again so I took a knee to get a little breather in and I recovered,” Fundora recalled. “I intentionally took a knee. I knew I had to take a knee because if I kept getting hit like that it wouldn’t be smart for me and I wouldn’t be able to recollect myself. I started to eat the cake in one bite. I went back to my corner and my dad said, ‘Don’t be doing that. Don’t be acting dumb.’ I came back in the next round, and I figured stuff out again.”
Fundora attacked in the eighth, making Lubin fight off his back foot, and in the ninth, with Lubin’s eyes two slits, a hematoma growing on his face, blood spilling from his mouth, and unable to fend off Fundora, Lubin’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, wisely ended it.
At the time of the stoppage, "The Towering Inferno" had no idea about the mountain he had climbed, until he saw the scorecards: Lubin was ahead on two of the three judge’s scorecards 85-84.
For a closer look at Sebastian Fundora, check out his fighter page.
In a battle of former super middleweight champions, "Sweethands" Plant delivers a brilliant one-punch KO win and reminds the 168-pound division that he remains one of the very elite.
In boxing, bad blood often leads to good fights.
Caleb “Sweethands” Plant and Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell had been circling each other for years before the two finally met on October 15, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The animosity reached fever pitch at the inaugural press conference in New York where the two former super middleweight world champions exchanged more verbal barbs.
“Leading up to this fight, he’s had a lot to say about me, how much he hates me and don’t like me, and nobody else likes me. But I’m not here to talk about emotions, this ain’t a therapy session. I’m here to do a job,” Plant said.
“You keep bringing up the same sh- I don’t like you. I don’t have to like you,” Dirrell emphasized. “Tell me who he’s fought? He fought nobody. Caleb hasn’t shown me anything special. Period. In any fight.”
Both fighters had a lot riding on their battle. Plant, the former IBF 168-pound champ, was coming off his first career defeat, a November 2021 TKO loss to Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight crown in a competitive battle that featured one of the better build-ups in recent years.
On that same card, Dirrell scored a highlight-reel KO win over Marcos Hernandez. The former two-time WBC 168-pound titlist was eager for one last title shot but would have to go through Plant in order to obtain it.
The Big Apple crowd was buzzing as Dirrell made his way to the ring. Plant followed, striding to the ring to the sounds of Method Man and Redman’s “Da Rockwilder,” an east coast classic which brought the crowd out of their seats.
Typically a boxer, Plant was the aggressor early on, a nod to new trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, who had told the media that Plant had more power than they realized. Dirrell fought fire with fire as both landed hard shots on the other. Their disdain for each other was also apparent in the number of times they wrestled each other to the floor, mocked one another and traded more trash talk in each round. Referee Harvey Dock displayed immense patience although he was forced to intervene several times.
Plant reverted to boxing in the middle rounds. Few foresaw what would happen in the ninth round. It began with Dirrell landing a nice right hand. The two circled each other, probing for more opportunities. Then, in the closing moments of the frame, “Sweethands” unloaded a sizzling a left hook to the liver followed by one upstairs, a combination he had thrown repeatedly throughout the fight. This time, however, he paused just a moment before unloading the hook which landed square on Dirrell’s jaw, causing his head to swivel and sending him to the canvas in a heap. No count was needed. Plant improved his record to 22-1 (13 KOs) while Dirrell’s record fell to 34-3-2 (25 KOs).
The Barclays crowd roared their approval at the monumental KO they had just witnessed. Prior to the start of the fight – during the fighter introductions – Plant wore a black tee shirt with white lettering which read, “You don’t know me enough to hate me” – a clear shot at Dirrell. Following the knockout, Plant put on a new black shirt, one that said, “But now you do.”
The outcome concluded one of the most dramatic rivalries in boxing history that was long overdue. But the achievements for Plant sees no foreseeable end, as his one-hitter quitter left hook, nine-round knockout victory summed up an unforgettable moment to earn The Premier Boxing Champions Knockout of the Year Award for 2022.
For a closer look at Caleb Plant, check out his fighter page.
Salute to Hector Luis Garcia, who shocked the world with his brilliant victory over then-unbeaten Chris Colbert in February.
Sometimes success in boxing is the product of being in the right place at the right time.
Chris Colbert, a fast-rising young star, was scheduled to challenge WBA super featherweight champion Roger Gutierrez on Feb. 26 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas but was left without an opponent when Gutierrez pulled out after testing positive for COVID-19 three weeks before the fight.
Enter Hector Luis Garcia.
The 2016 Olympian from the Dominican Republic had only 15 professional fights under his belt and was largely unknown on the international stage. However, he was competent and more than willing to step in for Gutierrez on short notice so Colbert could stay busy.
Colbert was more than a 20-1 favorite, meaning oddsmakers gave the late replacement almost no chance to win.
“He’s going to learn firsthand how dangerous I am,” the unbeaten Colbert said.
Well, we all would learn a great deal but it wasn’t the lesson that Colbert had in mind. Not even close.
Garcia, never intimidated by his opponent or the moment, fought like a man possessed. He walked through everything the quick-handed Colbert threw at him to land hard, accurate combinations almost at will from beginning to end.
The proud Colbert never stopped trying. He simply couldn’t find a way to slow down a runaway train.
The most dramatic moment came in Round 7, when Colbert ran into a counter left hand and ended up flat on his back. He was able to get up and continue but it seemed to be mission impossible for him, as he continued to wilt – physically and emotionally – under Garcia’s cruelly efficient attack in the second half of what had become a one-sided fight.
In the end, Garcia had dished out a thorough beating in the 2022 Premier Boxing Champions Upset of the Year.
“In the ninth and 10th rounds I hit him so hard,” Garcia said. “I knew I had him. I knew he wasn’t going to be able to box anymore.”
The official scoring was no surprise: 119-108 (11 rounds to one), 118-109 and 118-109, all for Garcia.
Colbert graciously stated the obvious when he said afterward, “He was the better man today.”
Just like that, the 31-year-old from a burgeoning hotbed of boxing went from an obscure afterthought to a major player in the 130-pound division and a potential star in his own right.
“I feel great,” an elated Garcia said in the ring afterward. “I definitely knew three weeks ago that my life would change. My trainers gave me the confidence to win this fight.”
Garcia (16-0, 10 KOs) was just getting started. The victory over Colbert earned him a shot at Gutierrez on Aug. 20. And he gave another dominating performance, winning a lopsided decision to become a world titleholder.
Next up for him? The biggest and most lucrative fight of his life, a showdown with pound-for-pound superstar Gervonta "Tank" Davis on Saturday, January 7, at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., live on SHOWTIME Pay-Per-View (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
That’s the kind of opportunity that can come your way when you deliver the biggest upset of the year, as Garcia did last winter.
For a closer look at Hector Luis Garcia, check out his fighter page.
Two-division world champion Rey Vargas faces off against top contender O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight World Championship.
One of the hottest fighters today, Texas native O'Shaquie Foster is on a mission to capture a world title at 130-pounds.See O'Shaquie's Profile
Spence's stirring victory over Ugas to unify three welterweight world titles stands out as the finest of 2022.
Errol Spence Jr. came into the April 16, 2022 welterweight title unification fight following 17 months out of the ring, and just a few years after miraculously surviving a horrific car crash.
His opponent, Cuban defector Yordenis Ugás, was flying high after a stunning upset of future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao, taking the Filipino legend’s WBA welterweight title in the process.
Ironically, Ugás, who came in having won 12 of his last 13 contests – the only blemish being a controversial split-decision loss to Shawn Porter in 2019 – accepted the Pacquiao fight on 11 days’ notice after Spence pulled out because of a torn retina, yet another setback for the Texan, but not enough to stop the boxer known as “The Truth.”
Spence and Ugás proceeded to throw down before nearly 40,000 raucous, pro-Spence fans at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Spence’s sparkling 10th-round technical knockout victory, the 28th of his career without a loss and 22nd stoppage – marking the first time the 35-year-old Ugas (27-5, 12 KOs) had been stopped – earned “The Truth” the Premier Boxing Champions’ 2022 Performance of the Year.
But the 12th title unification bout in welterweight history was anything but a cakewalk for the crafty and powerful 32-year-old southpaw.
A crushing overhand right by Ugás in the sixth round sent Spence’s mouthpiece flying and Spence, erroneously thinking the fight had been paused, went to retrieve it. But Ugás alertly blasted Spence with a left and a right, knocking the Texan backwards into the ropes, which prevented Spence from hitting the canvas, likely preserving his record of never having been knocked down as a pro.
“I felt a little off with my timing, but I knew I was going to catch on later in the rounds,” Spence explained. “I just kept working. I kept throwing punches and then sometimes I was being over-patient. I was throwing punches instead of picking my shots. I had a long layoff and I was super excited to get back in the ring. I was trying to push the pace more than I needed to.”
Spence, who now holds three of the four welterweight title belts, stormed back in the second half of the scheduled 12-rounder with a relentless barrage of left hands and combinations, attacking Ugás to the head and body.
By the 10th round, Ugás’ right eye was swollen completely shut, leading referee Laurence Cole to stop the fight for a second time to allow the ringside physician to inspect the damage. This time Cole took the doc’s advice and ended the bout at 1:44.
“I feel sad,” Ugás said. “I trained really hard for this fight. All my respect to Errol Spence. He’s a great champion. I’m just sad about what happened tonight. The referee stopped the fight, but I wanted to keep going to the end.”
Two of the judges scored the eighth round 10-8 for Spence, despite no knockdowns, and he was ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage: 88-82 twice and 88-83. Overall, Spence outlanded Ugás 216-96.
“I seen his face starting to get messed up,” Spence said afterward. “I was like, ‘yeah, I got him now, it’s pretty much over.’
“It was a good fight, very entertaining, from the feedback I got from family and friends.”
The Texan, who admits he cheated death in his 2019 accident, then changed his lifestyle by purchasing a sixty-acre horse ranch in DeSoto, Texas, addressed the hardships he’s endured over the past few years and during the fight itself.
“I believe that you’re going to go through trials and tribulations,” Spence explained. “I went through a lot of trials. I got tested and I passed the tests due to my upbringing. My mother and my father always telling me not to quit and not to give up and just believing in myself and my family . . . I knew that I could come back. Why would I quit now?”
He didn’t quit, of course, a big reason why he was rewarded with the PBC Performance of the Year.
Other nominees for Performance of the Year:
Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castano 2: Charlo, another Texan, handed Castano his first career loss with a 10th-round KO to become the first ever undisputed 154-pound World Champion in the four-belt era.
Stephen Fulton vs. Daniel Roman: WBC and WBO 122-pound World Champion Fulton dominated on his way to a unanimous decision over former unified champion Roman.
Danny Garcia vs. Jose Benavidez Jr: Garcia made a successful debut at 154 pounds, outclassing Benavidez to win a majority decision.
For a closer look at Errol Spence Jr, check out his fighter page.