No, junior middleweight world titleholder Jermall Charlo is not injured and, no, he does not plan to vacate his belt in order to avoid a mandatory defense against Julian “J Rock” Williams.
Rumors suggesting those two scenarios have swirled but they are not true, Ronnie Shields, Charlo’s trainer, told ESPN.com.
What is true is that Charlo had a LASIK procedure on his eyes to improve his vision in July and received a 60-day medical exception from the IBF for his mandatory defense.
Understandably, the Charlo camp did not advertise that he had the procedure, which delayed a bout initially penciled in for early October. But the IBF’s Lindsey Tucker told ESPN.com that shortly after he was notified that the sides had a deal for the fight and he canceled the purse bid, contracts were not filed within the 15-day window and then Charlo asked for the medical delay via a letter from promoter Tom Brown.
Tucker said Charlo was granted the exception on July 8 and it expires on Sept. 8, after which contracts for the fight are once again due within 15 days.
Shields said the 26-year-old Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) and twin brother Jermell Charlo, who also holds a junior middleweight world title, have worn contact lenses since they were kids. He said Jermell had the same procedure on his eyes a few years ago and that it dramatically improved his vision, but Jermall did not have it done until last month.
“It wasn’t serious. I don’t know where all these rumors about an injury are coming from or that he wouldn’t fight Williams,” Shields said. “It’s not true.”
Shields said that before Jermall’s title defense against former titleholder Austin Trout on May 21 in Las Vegas, that the Nevada commission declined to accept his eye exam results from his doctor in Houston and required him to fly to Las Vegas two weeks before the fight to be examined by its doctor. Shields said he went with Charlo for the exam, which cost them a day of training during a critical time of the camp.
“We did it. We made the trip and after we did it Jermall said he would [have the procedure] and get it over with,” Shields said.
Charlo was licensed to fight Trout and won a competitive decision to retain his title for the second time but “the doctor told him in Nevada he didn’t necessarily need the surgery but that if he fought somewhere else [with stricter rules on uncorrected vision] he might not have passed the exam, so he did what his brother did and had it done,” Shields said.
“But Jermall is not injured and he has never said he wouldn’t defend against Williams. It’s a tough fight but we live for tough fights. It’s a fight Jermall has wanted. We’re looking forward to it. Jermall loves to fight and wants to prove he’s the best out there. He will fight whoever they put in front of him.”
Shields said Charlo is training and should be cleared for full contact in about two weeks.
The fight against Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs), 26, of Philadelphia, is likely to take place sometime in November and probably will be televised by Showtime.