Jermall Charlo gives a 'Contender' a chance

Jermall Charlo might want the big names, but Brandon Adams is getting his shot

By Vikram Birring

Charlo vs. Adams
Charlo vs. Adams

Before the recent season of “The Contender,” few people had ever heard of Brandon Adams. He had a decent 17-2 record, but lost to the only name of note on it, Willie Monroe. His most recent fight was a loss to another prospect with the everyman name of John Thompson. He was a fitness trainer and had given up on his boxing career. Then came the opportunity to be on the show.


“The Contender” began in 2005 on the bright lights of NBC and superstar names of Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard. Sergio Mora won that season over Peter Manfredo, and both went on to have decent careers, with Mora even winning a belt against the great Vernon Forrest. The show continued on ESPN for two years and still had attention from the boxing world at least, with the irony of already real-life contenders Grady Brewer and Sakio Bika winning. It was almost as if they did not win as much as prove the status they already held in the sport.


There was a fourth season on the Versus (now NBC Sports) network that only the most hardcore of fans know about. Then the show disappeared, until 2018.


The fledging channel EPIX decided to revive the show, bringing in big boxing names Andre Ward, Naazim Richardson, and Freddie Roach. The roster had a few familiar names: John Jackson, Shane Mosley Jr., and Tyrone Brunson. Jackson was favored to win the show based on his existing record in boxing and level of competition.


However, Jackson was trounced in the first around against tough Louisianan Eric Walker. That created an opening for everyone else, but Adams would be the one to continue winning, one bout at a time, until dominating Mosley Jr. in the final.


This victory gave him a real opportunity at a championship, which is the premise of the show. Adams actually received multiple offers, one for Gennady Golovkin and the other for Jermall Charlo. In the end, he chose Charlo, and the fight is scheduled for June 29 at the NRG Arena in Houston,TX.


Charlo is a tall, strong, hard-punching former junior middleweight champion turned middleweight contender that came up the hard way. When he turned professional, no promoter would sign him, despite his twin brother Jermell receiving a contract from Golden Boy. He had to fight for a few hundred dollars in small hotel ballrooms, casinos, and once, an outdoor bullring (I was there).


Finally, after a dozen wins, he got a shot at a decent boxer in Orlando Lora, and the rest they say, is history. He continued to defeat everyone in his path, without a choice really. One loss and he would be back to fighting in front of a few hundred people for small money. In the opportunity he had been waiting for his whole life, he knocked Cornelius Bundrage silly to win a world title.


He went on to outbox veteran Austin Trout and knock out highly touted Julian Williams in a fight many thought he would lose. Now he is the mandatory contender for the WBC title at 160 pounds, but the champion seems disinterested to fight him, and the sanctioning organization seems equally disinterested to make the fight happen. In the mean time, Charlo continues to win and make his name against unlikely odds.


So, in this fight, as is usually the case in boxing, there are two stories, equally fascinating. One man who got the shot to come on a television show and captured the opportunity, and the other who came up the hard way and does not want to ever return to that past. Just like with a pot of boiled milk, the cream will rise to the top and the truth will make itself known June 29.


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