Charlo: ‘One-hundred sixty is my weight division’

It may not have been as easy as many thought it would be, but in the end, WBC 160-pound champion Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) got it done. Charlo defeated Juan Montiel (22-5-2, 22 KOs) by unanimous decision(118-109, 119-109, 120-108 ) in an entertaining fight at Toyota Center in Charlo’s hometown of Houston, Texas(Showtime) on Saturday night.

Coming into this fight, many thought Montiel had no shot, but to his credit, he battled and cut Charlo’s eye, which was the first cut in his career.

“It took a real warrior to get in the ring with me,” Charlo told Showtime reporter Jim Gray following the bout. “He(Montiel) fought each and every round as hard as he could, and I could tell by his eyes that he’s a true warrior from the beginning, and he wanted to fight. It didn’t matter what I hit him with; he wanted more. I love that spirit. He’s going to be great.”

In the sixth round, It appeared that Charlo was going to stop Montiel, and despite being on the receiving end of 36 punches landed, Montiel was able to weather the storm and survive.

Charlo threw a career-high 769 punches on Saturday and landed more than twice the amount of punches as Montiel (258-127), including a career-high 201 power punches.

With Montiel behind him, Charlo wants the best at 160, who he called out after the victory.

“One-hundred sixty is my weight division,” Charlo said. “I want to unify. I want to get (Gennadiy) Golovkin in the ring. I want to bring him to Houston. I want to get Canelo to come to Houston if he’ll come down to 160. This is my weight division. I’m going to stay here and reign here. This is my fourth title defense, and I have many more to come. I’m young. I’m hungry.”

Cruz decisions Vargas:

In the co-main event, a highly anticipated battle between power-punching Mexico City natives, 23-year-old top lightweight contender Isaac Cruz (22-1-1, 15 KOs) scored a wide unanimous decision over former champion Francisco Vargas (27-3-2, 19 KOs). The official scores were 100-89, 99-90 and 97-92.

“What can I say? I’m elated,” said Cruz. “This was exactly the kind of fight we expected. ‘Bandido’ was crafty and fought his fight, that allowed him to stay on his feet until the 10th round. Lots of embracing, but we knew how to manage it.”

Cruz, who shot up the lightweight rankings in 2020 and punctuated his year with an electrifying first-round knockout over Diego Magdaleno in September, came out early looking for a similar result. Cruz continued to throw power punches, including his signature overhand right, but Vargas was able to avoid any devastating blows. It was the 36-year-old Vargas who was the more active fighter, throwing 586 punches compared to Cruz’s 548. However, Cruz out-landed Vargas 188-148 and landed 43 percent of his power shots en route to the victory.

“We proved to be in top shape, our conditioning paid off,” Cruz continued. “I think fans were happy, because this is what all of Mexico and the Toyota Center wanted to see. I think Vargas held on to me more than he’s used to and couldn’t put on the show he usually does, and we couldn’t counter that. However, I value the fact that I learned that lesson.”

Cruz consistently led with his head, resulting in a number of head clashes, including in the eventful 10th and final round which led to a significant cut over Vargas’ right eye that the Mexican warrior fought through. In the final minute of the fight, Cruz sent Vargas to the canvas for just the second time in his career with a barrage of punches, topping off an impressive performance.

Leo gets by Alameda:

In a highly competitive and entertaining opening bout, former world champion Angelo Leo (21-1, 9 KOs) earned a hard-fought majority decision over Aaron Alameda (25-2, 13 KOs). The judges scored the fight 98-92, 96-94 and 95-95.

“I knew it was a close fight,” said the 27-year-old Leo. “Aaron Alameda is a tough fighter. He has 25 wins for a reason so I knew it was going to be a tough fight. I think I landed more blows. I was the busier fighter. He didn’t throw as much as me and I was the more active fighter.”

Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Leo, who fights out of the Mayweather Promotions stable, impressed the judges by holding a 200-175 edge in power punches landed and by connecting on 85 body shots compared to just 15 for Alameda. In the all-action affair, the two combatants combined to land 402 punches and were within 20 punches landed of each other when the final bell rang.

“The fans spoke, and they make the best judges,” said Alameda, referencing the loud boos that rained down after Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced the judges’ decision. “I felt like I won tonight, I think people saw it that way too even if the judges didn’t. Maybe the fact that he was the champion and the favorite coming in played a role in the decision, but I felt like I did what was necessary to win that fight and felt really good throughout.”

Leo, who dropped his WBO belt when he lost a decision to unbeaten Stephen Fulton Jr. in September, successfully began his re-ascent to another world title opportunity. Despite the loss, Mexico’s Alameda proved that he belongs in the upper echelon of the red hot 122-pound division.

Photos: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

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