Jermall Charlo moves to middleweight, Tony Harrison-Jarrett Hurd now for his vacant 154 lb strap

Credit: Stephanie Trapp / Showtime

Undefeated champion Jermall Charlo relinquished the IBF junior middleweight title this afternoon in order to pursue bigger challenges and another world championship in the middleweight division.

Charlo, 26, who lives and trains in Houston, has a sterling record of 25-0 with 19 KOs. He won the title with a TKO victory over Cornelius Bundrage on Sept. 12, 2015, and successfully defended it three times, defeating Wilky Campfort, former 154-pound champion Austin Trout and top contender Julian Williams. Charlo leaves the division after an impressive KO victory over Williams at the Galen Center on the USC campus in Los Angeles on Dec. 10, 2016.

Tony Harrison (24-1, 20 KOs) and Jarrett Hurd (19-0, 13 KOs) will battle for the vacant IBF 154-pound title on the undercard of Deontay Wilder defending his heavyweight title against Gerald Washington on primetime on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, February 25. Televised coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Charlo’s twin brother, Jermell, still has the WBC 154-pound title and will defend it against Charles Hatley at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland on Saturday, March 11.

“I’ve been thinking about moving to 160 pounds for a while now,” Charlo said. “It was a struggle for me to make the weight for the last title fight. Once I captured the title I defended it immediately, because I wasn’t sure how long I could hold the weight. I held it an extra year to fight Austin Trout and Julian Williams. I feel there are bigger and better things for me at 160 where I can still hold my weight and be stronger. The idea of being a two-time world champion is a big goal for me.

“If there were a big fight at 154 pounds left for me, I’d stick around and wait for it. But there isn’t anything there that can be made quickly. And I wouldn’t fight my brother or my gym mate and close friend, Erislandy Lara.”

Charlo’s trainer, Ronnie Shields, is in favor of the move up to a higher division.

“It’s a move that has to be made,” said Shields. “He was definitely having trouble making that weight. No sense in holding himself down in making that weight. Going up to 160 pounds is a must. I think he does well there. He’s big enough to handle the weight. It’s not like we have to do anything special to compete at 160 pounds. That’s basically what he is – a middleweight.”

Charlo doesn’t anticipate any problems with moving up. He plans to make his middleweight debut soon.

“I’ve been training for a couple weeks now. It’s like a mini-camp. I’ve been shaking out,” Charlo said. “We’re looking at May to be completely ready. I’m a big athlete already. I’m just looking forward to taking my superstar status and competing with the big boys up there.”

“I’ve been waiting on this for a long time. This the biggest shot of my life. It’s like my son being born all over again,” Harrison said. “This just made the fight that much more interesting. As a boxer this is what you dream of – the day you fight for a world title. Santa came early. We’re both 26 years old. It’s a dream come true for both of us. It doesn’t change the approach. It just makes it much sweeter and puts that much more respect on the winner of this fight.”

“This is the moment every boxer dreams of, becoming the world champion,” said Hurd. “I finally get that opportunity on the big stage – on the Deontay Wilder heavyweight championship card and on FOX in prime time on national TV. I’m blessed. I want to thank everyone for getting me to this point. Tony Harrison is a great fighter. It’s not going to be an easy fight. Tony Harrison is top-level competition and I’m a top level competitor. Two great fighters going after something they want. But I have to say my pants are falling and I need my belt.”

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