WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo 34-1 (18) claimed the WBA and IBF belts of Jeison ‘Banana’ Rosario 20-2-1 (13) with an eighth-round knockout at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut on Saturday night.
Rosario, 25, recovered well after a first-round knockdown to force his way back into the fight. But Charlo’s power shone through again in the sixth when he sent the Dominican down for the second time in the fight.
The 30-year-old Texan went on from there, finishing off Rosario with a stiff jab to the body early in the eighth. Official time of the stoppage was 0:21.
Judges Glenn Feldman and John McKaie both had Charlo up 67-64 when the fight was stopped, while judge Steve Weisfeld had the champion ahead 66-65.
“I definitely proved that I’m more than just a puncher, but I also showed again that I’m a big puncher,” Charlo said.
“I’d give myself an A tonight. I stuck to my game plan and listened to my coach. Everything we did in camp, I used it in this fight. I pushed myself the whole way through training camp. It’s been a journey for me. I’m bringing the straps home to my family like they told me to.
“I knew that he was going to keep coming after the first knockdown. He kept pressing for four or five rounds until I floored him again.
“I’m growing and learning that the knockout just comes. I know that I have explosive power in both hands. I utilized my jab more than any other punch in this fight and that’s what got me these straps.
“Rosario hits hard, but if you have to know how to wear a fighter down. That’s how you take the power out of him.
“I think some of the previous punches I landed hurt him before the jab. The body shot that landed just hit the right point. I wish him well. I give any man who steps into the ring respect. I hope he recovers and bounces back…
“I know right now that I’m going to talk with the sanctioning bodies and see what’s next. I’m holding the crown. I’m the king. We’ll see what’s next.”
In the main support bout Luis ‘Pantera’ Nery 31-0 (24) claimed the vacant WBC super bantamweight title with a unanimous decision win over Aaron Alameda 25-1 (13).
The all-Mexican showdown pitted two southpaws against each other. The 115-113, 116-112, 118-110 decision win for Nery ended his 11-fight knockout streak.
“Alameda has a nice jab, he definitely connected, but I always felt like I had the fight under control,” Nery said.
“His defence was good, but at the end I really tightened up my attack and was able to get the victory.
“We know he had a lot of experience as an amateur, so we prepared for a quality opponent. It’s not an excuse, but I haven’t fought in a year, so I think that affected my performance a little.
“I got the victory because I landed more. You always look for the knockout, but he used the jab a lot and that threw me off a little bit until I was able to connect more at the end of the fight.
“There are a lot of good fighters in this division. Brandon Figueroa’s name has come up, but we’ll check with the team and go from there. We’re ready to fight anyone at 122-pounds. We don’t fear anybody.”