Junior middleweight world titleholder Jermell Charlo sat with interest at ringside watching Jarrett Hurd's dramatic victory over Erislandy Lara to unify titles in the division on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
It was an enthralling fight of the year contender in which Hurd scored a clean knockdown with a left hook in the waning seconds of the bout to secure a split decision victory that not only netted him a second world title but also set him up for a probable fall showdown with Charlo to unify three of the four major 154-pound world title belts.
Charlo is licking his chops for the fight. He has been friends with Lara for many years and they have trained together, so while Charlo would have fought Lara if necessary because boxing is also a business, he didn't really want to.
Hurd, however, is another story. He can't wait for the fight.
"We trying to bring back the old-school boxing. Let's rumble. The best fight the best. I have the old-school mentality. We got to get in the dungeon [to train] and be ready. I've been there 30 times. Next I have June 9 and then I want Hurd." Jermell Charlo
"Lara and me are friends, we trained together, but we would have done it because of the business," Charlo told ESPN on Monday. "Me fighting Lara would have created turmoil, so I'm glad it went in this direction. I'll fight whatever fight I have to and he'll fight whatever fight he has to. But now he's out of the way and me and Hurd, it's a megafight in our division. I'm like, 'Let's go!'
"Hurd puts on entertaining fights, I put on entertaining fights. Let's bang it out, let's rumble. I'm not a little 154-pounder [like Lara is]. I'm 6 feet tall, I'm strong, I'm thick. He's strong, he's thick. Let's give the fans a great fight. That's my thing."
After dispatching Lara, Hurd (22-0, 15 KOs), 27, of Accokeek, Maryland, embraced the idea of the fight with Charlo as his next defense, and it's also a fight that Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza, who has heavily invested in the junior middleweight division over the past couple of years, wants to put on in the fall.
"I'm proud of Hurd. He did what he had to do," Charlo said. "Hurd was very respectful to me. He's cool. They respect the 'Lion' but Hurd don't know what he got coming."
But before a Hurd-Charlo fight can be put together, Charlo is scheduled to make his third title defense on June 9 in the co-feature of the Showtime card headlined by the rematch between featherweight world titleholder Leo Santa Cruz and secondary titlist Abner Mares at Staples Center in Los Angeles, where Houston native Charlo now lives.
Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs), 27, said his opponent was not signed yet but that he probably would face former titlist Austin Trout (31-4, 17 KOs), who suffered his first knockout loss when Hurd stopped him after the 10th round in October as Trout's corner threw in the towel.
The loss was Trout's second in a row. In May 2016, he lost a unanimous decision to then-junior middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo, Jermell's twin brother who is now a top middleweight contender.
"I'd rather fight Hurd right away, but I'm fighting June 9," Jermell Charlo said. "I'd rather fight in the main event. That would be the best thing. But I will be ready for Trout and then I will be ready for Hurd.
"It's like it's been a tournament, and me and Hurd is the final for all those belts. I am going to be so ready. My life is solid, I'm training hard, always working."
Charlo said having an interim fight before the big fight he really wants with Hurd might be a good and bad thing for him.
"The good is the world will see me again and I can put on the kind of great performance I want to put on June 9 even though I'm not worked up about who the opponent is," he said. "Also, L.A. is like a second home to me. The bad is that it's boxing. Anything can happen. There could be an injury or a setback, but I want to be sharp. I want to be monstrous and explosive. I want to be seriously explosive on fight night."
And then he wants Hurd.
"I will be ready for Hurd," Charlo said. "I'm super pumped up for the Hurd fight, but I am going to be ready to fight June 9. I'm walking around 163, 162 pounds and I could go make weight right now. I'm ripped up. I just have to spar and get sharp. I didn't get to show it in the [Erickson] Lubin fight, but I am down for the Hurd fight. I want those belts."
In October, on the same card on which Hurd stopped Trout, Charlo retained his title with a shocking and blistering first-round knockout of heralded up-and-comer Lubin.
Charlo aims for more impressive performances like that one.
"We trying to bring back the old-school boxing," Charlo said. "Let's rumble. The best fight the best. I have the old-school mentality. We got to get in the dungeon [to train] and be ready. I've been there 30 times. Next I have June 9 and then I want Hurd."