Jermell Charlo’s Balanced and Powerful Boxing Style


In the highly politicized and harsh world of boxing, unified champions winning multiple belts in the same weight class are a rarity. But becoming an undisputed champion and holding all four major titles is a legendary feat highly cherished by boxers, fans, and pundits alike. One of only three current undisputed champions is light-middleweight king Jermell Charlo.

The younger brother by 1 minute of WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo has always showcased a lethal combination of great speed, power, and ring IQ.

But up until recently, he wasn’t really able to harness everything together consistently. But in his most recent fights against Brian Castano for the undisputed light 154-pound crown, Charlo finally put up a performance worthy of the exclusive undisputed champion club, joined by only a handful of men.

The lion costumes Charlo likes to wear in the walkouts are not an exaggeration of his self-image and his place in boxing, as he has truly risen to be the king of the light middleweights.

In this article, we will take a look at the boxing style of Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo in all of its details.

Table of contents:

The Road To Undisputed

Jermell Charlo unsiputed at super middleweight

Jermell Charlo and his identical twin Jermall were raised in Houston, Texas, and picked up boxing early on from their father, Kevin Charlo, who was also a professional boxer. Jermell was a successful amateur, with his highlight being the 2005 Junior Olympics bronze medal. He turned pro at age 17 in 2007, while Jermall competed as an amateur for a year longer.

As expected, Jermell started to quickly and surely rack up pro wins against a steadily increasing level of competition until the twins made history at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in 2016. The Charlo brothers fought on the same card and both walked away with a 154lb world title, becoming the first twins to achieve this feat. Jermall was already an IBF light middleweight champion and defended against Austin Trout, while Jermell knocked out John Jackson for the vacant WBC strap.

Unlike his brother, though, Jermell had to face adversity and lost his title in 2018 against Tony Harrison after also defeating Trout. However, Charlo avenged his loss to Harrison a year later and got his WBC belt back. In 2020, Iron Man added to his collection the WBA, IBF, and Ring light middleweight titles with a KO over Jeison Rosario.

Charlo had to overcome one more steep obstacle in the face of Argentinian banger and WBO title holder Brian Castano. The two fought to a draw in 2021, and both held their respective titles. But on May 14, 2022, Jermell made all the right adjustments and followed his game plan meticulously to knock out Castano in the 10th round. By wiping out Castano, Jermell Charlo became the seventh undisputed world champion in the four-belt era and the first at 154 pounds.

Style, Stance and Approach

Jermell Charlo's Stance

Jermell Charlo is a well-rounded boxer-puncher who can utilize his jab to box from the outside, control the distance with his reach advantage, and set up his combinations effectively.

While at the same time, he possesses the power and willingness to engage in close-quarters exchanges when necessary.

His approach overall is also very patient, well-educated, and balanced. He mainly uses a higher guard, to block, catch and parry shots away. While it always leaves him in a position to attack or defend. 

But once he raises the tempo, opponents rarely get to hear the final bell. In true pro boxing champion fashion, Charlo expertly executes his opponents once they are hurt, and his whole championship reign is a testament to that.

Charlo often uses a bouncing step to spring back, forth, and sideways in a fashion more often seen in amateur boxing. (Mainly when out of range looking reset himself)

His feet are deceptively quick, and he has the ability to quickly cover the distance in all directions while always having good balance and his feet under him. Even when he sits on his punches, he very rarely overreaches or oversteps, the base always remains stable.

Ring IQ

The younger Charlo twin has often been praised for his high ring IQ because of his good reads and adjustments. He has found himself trailing on scorecards a few times only to turn the tides in the later rounds or directly finish his opponents.

Usually, Iron Man gets stronger in the later rounds, as he likes to box more at the beginning of the fight and sit a lot more on his punches in the second half.

His overall approach varies depending on the opponent. In his bouts with Castano, Charlo was forced to move around a lot, stay off the ropes, and counter. Against Harrison, the 154-pound champion stood his ground more and exchanged and jabbed more against Jeison Rosario, to name a few different tactics he used.

His adaptiveness is also evident in between. Unlike his undefeated brother, Jermell has had to rise from adversity by first avenging a loss to Tony Harrison and then emphatically beating Brian Castano after a draw in their first meeting. Both times, Charlo made perfect adjustments and won the rematches emphatically. 

Left hook 

Jermell Charlo has an outstanding left hook that has often set him apart from the competition. I believe his left hook has been often overlooked and not given enough credit for his success. Charlo throws his left hook with precision, speed, and power and loves to switch from body to head and vice versa in a single combination, often catching opponents off guard. He expertly disguises the true target of the hook by using the same startup motion.

Brian Castano felt the power of Charlo’s left hook both on the body and head. First, Charlo dropped him with a left hook to the head seconds before swarming him with a head-body combo with the left to finish the fight and earn the undisputed middleweight crown.

Charlo has also used his left hook to counter jabs by slipping to the right and firing back with the left hook. A perfect example of this is the knockdown in the rematch against Tony Harrison. He can also counter jabs by parrying and again returning with a vicious left hook.

Another outstanding use of the left hook we often see Charlo execute is off of blocked right hands. This is a popular way of countering to wait for a punch and return a counter from the same side immediately after the attack is blocked, and Charlo does it expertly.

Another offensive use Charlo has for the left hook is a forward lunge, especially when he has the opponent near the ropes. 

Check out Jamie’s breakdown of Jermell Charlo’s Left Hook here:

Defense and counter-punching skills 

Defense is not something for which Charlo is famous. This, of course, is not to say that an undisputed champion has a weak defense, but rather that it’s not a true highlight of his game.

Iron Man” can be caught when coming in, but his high guard and slips get him out of trouble often enough. He does not shy away from exchanges, but he does not often enter recklessly either.

Most of the time, Charlo uses a tight high guard. His backhand rarely leaves the side of his head, while the lead either blocks or parries in combination with small slips. However, more recently, he started implementing the shoulder roll more frequently in addition to some deeper weaves, which were evident against slugger Castano.

Jermell Charlo's Defense

Charlo loves to use his high guard not only for pure defense but also for touch-and-go counters. As soon as Charlo feels something touch his guard, he lets rip a vicious counterpunch from the same side.

A good example of this using the right square is the one that stunned John Jackson for Charlo’s first light middleweight world title (also 55 seconds of the 5th round against Rosario). He also likes to do the same with the left hook, this time off of blocked right hands.

The benefit of this type of counter is that the opponent doesn’t have enough time to return his attacking hand before the counter lands on the same side. Castano was hurt more than once by this setup, both in their first meeting and in the rematch.

Check out Jermell Charlo’s counterpunching skill set below:

Jermell Charlo's Counters

Power punching and setups 

Jermell Charlo has scored 19 knockouts in his 35 wins, making him a dangerous puncher but not exactly a knockout artist. He has very effective punching mechanics, which are the biggest contributor to his thudding power both in the left hook and right cross. His right cross is a thing of beauty when landed with full extension and pivot. In the most devastating instances, Charlo usually has a dominant angle on the left of his opponents.

The fact that Charlo’s knockout ratio actually increased during his championship years shows he uses his improving skills in the form of technique and positioning more than raw power.

Set Ups

Perhaps the favorite entry from Jermell is the good old 1-2. He has a perfect sense of distance with the jab-cross and often lands it just on the end of the punches, where they hold the most power. Charlo sometimes throws the combo as opponents try to creep in, but one of his trademarks is the step in 1-2, with the cross coming with a picture-perfect pivot on the foot. Examples are frequent and plentiful, including knockdowns against Charles Hatley, while sometimes he’ll throw it as an overhand right as seen vs Jackson. See this action below:

Jermell Charlo's 1-2

Jermell’s right is a versatile weapon. He uses it not only in the one-two combo but also as a finisher after a long flurry as he did against Harrison in the rematch. He sometimes throws it as a looping overhand or as a short, chopping punch when in close range. 

I’ve already covered in detail Jermell’s use of the left hook above, and we already saw how strong his straight right hand is.

In addition to his destructive arsenal, we can mention his right uppercut. When throwing long combos, Charlo often includes a sneaky right upper, both to the head and body.

Although an isolated instance, the first-round KO of Erikson Lubin courtesy of a right uppercut deserves to be mentioned, as he very intelligently picked up that he bends to his left to avoid punches and looks to clinch. Watch below:

Jermell Charlo's Set Up

Final Words 

The undisputed light middleweight king has some more work for him in the division, although he has moved up to face Canelo Alvarez at 168lbs I would still love a meeting with Australian star Tim Tszyu. But Charlo has the potential to entertain us with some other big fights in the near future regardless of the outcome with Canelo.

And with a pleasing style to watch for both casual viewers and more refined enjoyers of boxing, Jermell Charlo is someone you should not miss watching.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand better what makes him special and what you might expect to see the next time he enters the ring. 

Check out my fight preview for Canelo vs Charlo here.

The boxer toolkit

Plamen Kostov

I am Plamen, and I have been involved in martial arts for 15 years, writing about them for the last 2. I am fascinated by all aspects of fighting, be it physical, mental, or philosophical. The sweet science of boxing has a special place in the pantheon of combat sports and in my heart, and I will be sharing my knowledge, analysis, and opinions on it here on "Boxing Life"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts