Jermall Charlo finally found a fight he couldn’t punch his way out of.
The WBC middleweight champion returns to the ring for the first time in over two years as the co-main event on the much-anticipated David Benavidez-Demetrius Andrade card Saturday night (9 p.m. ET, Showtime PPV) at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) last fought and successfully defended his title against Juan Macias Montiel on June 19, 2021.
He now ends his hiatus against Benavidez’s brother, Jose Jr. (28-2-1), though his title will not be on the line – the 10-round bout will be at a 163-pound catchweight instead of the 160-pound middleweight cutoff, likely a precursor to a move up to the 168-pound super middleweight division.
In those 30 months without a bout, however, Charlo perhaps met his toughest opponent yet – himself.
Charlo, 33, faced mental health battles as well as alcohol and substance abuse issues.
“Depression, self conflation, going from hot to cold really fast is shocking to you,” Charlo opened up to The Post. “Dealing with all kinds of cases of [being] bipolar, being by yourself, thinking that you shutting the world out is gonna help you. But you need to be able to speak to someone and help you get past whatever you’re going through.
“It just feels like everybody is against you, I don’t care if you’re in the Uber, a cab, wherever, everybody is just against you. Why I felt like this, [I don’t know]. I couldn’t tell that some people weren’t against me, it was just that at the moment it’s the way you’re feeling and I turned my back against pretty much the world. I just had to start getting help with it and it made me a lot better.”
He believes he returns to boxing in a much better place.
“My patience has grown a lot more now,” Charlo said. “I’ve extended my hand to start helping more than I ever did. I’m starting to feel a lot better. Clear minded, I’m not trying to tailor things with drinking and alcohol abuse, or drugs, or just being so obnoxious and things like that. …You have to learn patience. That’s one of my major things that I’ve learned from having these two years off is patience and just being grateful. I’m back. I learned how to take care of my body a lot better, mentally and physically. I feel like I’m back. My mind has met up with my physical ability and I’m kind of more so in my prime.
“When your back is against the wall, when it starts burning or you go down to a knee, you look up at the people that you know for sure are gonna help you back up, no matter what. All around, having a good team around you is the best support.”
Charlo, though, found one of the most important members of that support team go missing in his twin brother Jermell.
The two have long dominated boxing as champions and perhaps the best familial duo in the sport.
Jermell (35-2-1) was previously the undisputed junior middleweight champion, but was stripped of his WBO belt in October when he moved up two divisions to challenge the legendary Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight title in a megabout, which he lost by unanimous decision.
In the lead-up to that bout, Jermell revealed that he and Jermall had grown apart in recent years and did not see eye-to-eye about the direction they wanted their lives to proceed, saying, “I’m just not in a moment or a mood to wanna deal with that havoc that he brings” and “I feel like we have had a bunch of hiccups on his end that have tarnished our character and our name a little bit.”
They are still in the process of repairing that relationship.
“Jermell is Jermell, he has his own way of thinking, even though we’re twin brothers,” Charlo said. “He’s his own person, I’m my own person. We have two different ways of thinking. He never really did any real harm besides not be there for me. And that’s just kind of one of those things that you gotta bear with, fight through. My patience got better, so maybe he didn’t notice it, and I did a lot of change.
“We’re good. We talk, I could call him [now]. Normally I wouldn’t even be able to call him, he wouldn’t answer, or we wouldn’t talk.”
Feeling mentally better than he ever has, Charlo believes he still has another chapter to write.
“I know for sure that my name still rings a bell two years [later] for my coming-out-of-retirement,” Charlo said. “Patience, man. I’m not anxious. Patience is everything. I just let it flow the way it’s flowing.”