By Craig Daly: Jermell Charlo is expected to return to finally return to the ring after a long 17-month layoff to defend his undisputed junior middleweight championship against his WBO mandatory Tim Tszyu in October.
The only question is whether the 33-year-old Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) will need additional time for his left hand injury to heal before he’s ready to face Tszyu (23-0, 17 KOs).
There’s a possibility Jermell will be stripped of at least one of his titles by the time he does finally get around to fighting the 28-year-old Tszyu because the Charlo twin hadn’t seen action since May 14, 2022, when he defeated WBO 154-lb champion Brian Castano in a rematch.
The World Boxing Organization set a deadline of September 30th for Charlo to defend against Tszyu. If Jermell goes past that date, which appears to be the case, the WBO will need to permit him.
If not, Tszyu, the interim WBO champion, would be fighting Charlo for his other three titles, assuming their fight still goes ahead.
Some people think Jermell is malingering, avoiding returning to the ring from his hand injury for fear of facing Tszyu, who is a much better fighter on paper than the guys that Charlo has been fighting during his 16-year professional career.
To be sure, coming back after a long layoff to face a killer like Tszyu has to be more than a little daunting for Charlo.
Jermell’s problems in his fights against Castano, Tony Harrison, Vanes Martirosyan, and Gabriel Rosado suggest he could be in trouble against Tszyu.
Even at his best when he was still an active fighter, competing twice a year, Jermell would have had significant problems against Tszyu, but at 33, coming off a long layoff and fighting only once a year since 2020, inactivity could sink his ship.
“I think we’ve gotten to the point now where it’s almost the date, and we’ve actually agreed on that. It’s now just a timing issue now for their side to make the announcement more than anything, I think. They’re very confident that we’re going to move ahead with it,” said Glen Jennings to DStyleBoxing about the Jermell Charlo vs. Tim Tszyu fight in October.
“We’ve always been confident. I just think that guys like Jermell are champions for a reason. They hold the belts. I don’t think his character or his ego would not let this fight happen, to be honest.”
“I think he’s streaking towards this Charlo fight,” said Chris Algieri to Inside Boxing about Tim Tszyu. “The fact that this fight is happening now makes it a much more competitive fight, and honestly, by the time that fight happens, Tszyu could be the favorite.”