Throughout boxing history, there have been successful brother tandems.
Juan Manuel Marquez and Rafael Marquez, for example, were among the best in the business in their heyday and held titles in different weight classes at the same time during the early 2000s, Juan Manuel as a featherweight and Rafael as a bantamweight.
Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, perhaps the most successful brothers in boxing history, owned the heavyweight division for years as they fulfilled the dream they had from the moment they turned pro in 1996: to hold world titles at the same time. From 2008 until Vitali’s retirement at the end of 2012 they simultaneously held all four major belts, three for Wladimir and one for Vitali. They had the weight class on lockdown.
Now junior middleweight brothers Jermall and Jermell Charlo have a chance to carve out their own boxing history in which they can both hold world titles at the same time in the same weight class and become the first twins to do so, although Thai twins Khaosai Galaxy (junior bantamweight) and Khaokor Galaxy (bantamweight) briefly held world titles in different weight classes in the late 1980s.
To accomplish that goal, the Houston natives both need to win on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET) at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It would be quite the birthday present for the siblings, who turned 26 on Thursday.
“We always thought that we would be winners and that we would be competing at the top level,” Jermall Charlo said. “Now it’s time to make history. We want to prove why we’re at the top.
“Me and my brother have always wanted to be champions at the same time. There’s never been anything like this. This era, you will get a chance to enjoy us. We’ve worked very hard to get here and we’re going to reign on this level.
“We both do different things, but we also have the same skills and the same power. No one in the division can match up to us.”
First up will be Jermell Charlo (27-0, 12 KOs), who will attempt to join his brother as a world titleholder when he meets the Virgin Islands’ John Jackson (20-2, 15 KOs), 27, son of former two-division titleholder Julian Jackson, for one of the 154-pound belts vacated by Floyd Mayweather upon his retirement last fall.
“I’m proud of what my brother has done. His success motivates me. He’s a world champion. These are the kind of things we look forward to,” Jermell said. “This is our time. There is no more that we can say. There is a lot that’s coming ahead of us.
“I’m coming to win. I trained hard. It’s time for a world title for me. I have to fulfill my end of the bargain. This is our time, me and my brother’s. I’m ready to make history. I’m ready to win this belt and enjoy my vacation after.
In the second fight of the telecast, Jermall Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs) will face the best opponent of his career when he makes his second title defense against former titleholder Austin Trout (30-2, 17 KOs), 30, of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
In the main event of the all-junior middleweight title tripleheader, Erislandy Lara (22-2-2, 13 KOs), 33, a Cuban defector living in Houston and the consensus No. 1 fighter in the division, will make his fourth defense against Vanes Martirosyan (36-2-1, 21 KOs), 30, of Glendale, California. The fight is a rematch a ninth-round technical draw in a 2012 title elimination bout.
Jermall, who is one minute older than his identical twin, knows that if his brother wins the opener he will have to win his fight for them to reach their goal, but he said neither of them put too much pressure on the other as this is not the first time they have boxed on the same card — even if this time it is for the biggest stakes.
“We’re really not so big on putting the pressure on each other, and the work of the fight is going to be both of us getting our hand raised,” Jermall said. “Knock on wood, worst case comes, you know, we’re both prepared for the worst. But I’m not necessarily worried about making history. I’m just worried about taking care of my end against Austin Trout.”
Trout, who held a world title from 2011 to 2013, including a successful defense against future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto, who went on to win the middleweight world title, is the most significant opponent of Jermall’s career.
“We always thought that we would be winners and that we would be competing at the top level. Now it’s time to make history. We want to prove why we’re at the top.”
“I have nothing bad to say about Jermall as a person or a fighter,” Trout said. “But at the end of the day, the history will be my own. I’m going to use him for my legacy, not the other way around. Charlo took a chance with this fight. There is no mistake in taking a chance. But will the chance end up in his favor? I hardly doubt it. This won’t be easy. I’m never in easy fights. They’re always great fights.”
Charlo won his belt by one-sided third-round knockout of inactive, 42-year-old Cornelius “K9” Bundrage in September and retained it by fourth-round knockout of little-known “Silky” Wilky Campfort in November. Trout is a much bigger name than either of them.
“This is a huge fight for me. This is more to me than winning a world title. I put my all into this,” said Jermall, who predicted he would knock Trout out. “None of Trout’s experience matters. I’m a real lion and I’m going to show it.
“Austin Trout is just a name to me. He beat Cotto, so what? I have work to do. I’m focused on getting the job done.”
Jermell is also focused on getting the job done to set the table for his brother’s defense.
“Knowing that I got to go first has never been a problem,” Jermell said. “I was the one that, when we were younger, I would pop off first. If somebody got into it with me and my brother, I’m jumping off first. I don’t want nobody getting on my brother. So that’s how I take it. If I got to be the one that goes first, oh, well, let it be.”
While the Charlos want to be titleholders at the same time, Jackson wants to win a title like his father — one of the best pure punchers in boxing history — did.
“I’m looking to make history. My dad was a champion and I’m going to do the same thing,” said Jackson, who has won two fights in a row since be badly knocked out in the fifth round by Andy Lee in June 2014 in a fight Jackson was winning easily. “This is a dream come true and the Jackson legacy will live on.”
Of course, the Charlos have their eye on history as well.
“This is history in the making,” Jermell said. “We knew we would be boxing and winning titles, but this is special. We have the opportunity to both be world champions at the same time.”
Which leads to the inevitable question: If they both have titles would they consider fighting each other to unify the belts? The Klitschkos were asked that question all the time and said time and again they would never fight each other because they promised their mother they wouldn’t.
So what about the twins?
“We wouldn’t have anything to prove fighting each other,” Jermall said. “And I’m pretty sure the fans and the people around the world wouldn’t want to see twin brothers that train with each other and have the same tactics fight each other. So I’m not really entertaining the fact that a lot of people have been asking will me and my twin brother fight each other. No.”
Having belts at the same time will be fulfillment enough.