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By John Zemel   - @john_zemel

2020 has presented more than its fair share of challenges for every human being across the globe. From a worldwide pandemic to fires, floods, and famine, we could all use a break more than ever. On top of all of this and so much more, boxing fans have been left to our own devices. While the sport’s top promoters have worked hard to maintain some semblance of normalcy by offering up small cards in empty arenas or their backyard gardens, boxing has long lacked any competitive matchups from belt holders. We’ve been forced to satiate our hunger for the sweet science with showcase fights from top prospects and stay-busy walkthroughs from outside contenders. Unless you’re a big follower of WBC mandatories, there have been no scheduled fights of consequence of any kind for over six months.

That’s all about to change in a big way. This weekend’s doubleheader may not be a “normal” card, but what it lacks in conformity it more than makes up for in intrigue and excitement. This Saturday we’ll have five championship showdowns, split into two fight cards a half hour apart, each culminating in an epic matchup featuring some of the sport’s fiercest, hardest hitting champions. It’s a full night of competitive, elite level boxing. Its almost as if they’re trying to make up for six months away all in one night. We’ve all been dying to feel normal again in any way and this feels like a big step in that direction. There won’t be fans, and a doubleheader like this is far from common, but nothing feels more normal than spending a Saturday night watching two top boxers share the squared circle and attempting to achieve boxing’s highest honors.

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If this is your first introduction to the Charlo twins, then let me be the first to welcome you to the future of boxing. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and these two Houston natives are no exception. They’re not Heavyweights, but what they lack in height and body mass, they more than make up for in personality and superstar quality. Two heavy hitters, who would rather stand in the middle and trade blows than stay outside and win rounds. They have the dyed hair, the diamonds, the cars, and every other piece that personifies the modern American prizefighter, matched with a willingness to trade punches and hunt knockouts that is reminiscent of champions of old. Each is handsome and charismatic in their own right, but they have no problem playing the heel. They are exactly what a boxing superstar is made of in every way. You may love them, or love to hate them, but either way you can’t take your eyes off of them.  If there was only one of them, he would be among the biggest rising stars in the entire sport, but even better, there’s two of them.

They have their differences as well. They were born one minute apart, for one, and they now fight in different weight classes as well. Jermall, or “Big Charlo,” is the WBC Middleweight champion. He’s one inch taller than his brother and fights at six pounds heavier. While he’s known for being more laid back and a consummate family man, in the ring he’s anything but passive. With a record of 30-0, he has 20 big KOs and can knock an opponent out from any angle.

 Jermell on the other hand, may have a similar name, but he’s a very different beast in his own right. He may be known as “Little Charlo,” but I wouldn’t call him that to his face. His unflinching demeanor and mercilessness between the ropes have earned him the nickname “Angry Charlo” by fight fans and observers. While only one minute younger and one inch shorter, he seems to have made it a life’s mission that he never be seen as the “lesser Charlo.” His record of 33-1 may have one blemish, 2018’s loss to Tony Harrison, but he came back last year and stopped Harrison in the 11th, getting back his WBC Light Middleweight belt and proving that he deserved it. Both brothers have their own styles, but there are two things they both have in common other than last names: star power and firepower.

They both face what may be their toughest matchups to date this Saturday. Jermall’s matchup, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, isn’t just a mouthful to say, he’s also a handful in the ring. His technical prowess and willingness to fight any top fighter has put him square in the conversation for Greatest Middleweight on the Planet. He’s coming off a controversial loss to Gennadiy Golovkin, a hard fought battle in which many fans believe should have been judged in favor of Derevyanchenko. Like many fighters of Eastern European descent, he may not be a household name in the casual boxing world, but he has surreptitiously made his way to the top of the game with dominating performance after dominating performance.

Jermell finds himself in a difficult collision of his own. His opponent, Jeison Rosario, is coming off a stunning upset of Julian Williams in which he stopped him in the fifth round. They are ranked 1 and 2 in ESPN’s Super Welterweight rankings, and for good reason. Nicknamed “Banana Man,” the Dominican native showed no fear when facing down his last opponent and seems at ease in the ring no matter who is across from him. There is a case to be made that whoever wins at the end of each of these Main Events is the greatest fighter in his division. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen even one fight that carries that level of consequence and we get two in the same night. When you combine that with the star power that the Charlos bring, we are in for exactly the kind of epic night of boxing that fans have needed and deserved. When asked what to expect from their fights this weekend on the All the Smoke Podcast, they each responded at the same time with one word, “Fireworks.”

Even the undercards are special. There are two championship showdowns at Super Bantamweight. They first is between undefeated Mexican champion Luis Nery in his debut in the weight class versus his undefeated countryman Aaron Alameda for the vacant WBC belt. The second is between WBA champion Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez. There is already talks of the winner of both fights coming together in their next fight to establish their places at the top of the division. If that wasn’t enough, two more fighters in that weight class, Daniel Roman and Juan Carlos Payano, look to come back from recent losses and play spoiler to show that they belong in that conversation as well. The cherry on top of the whole sundae is a Bantamweight showdown between Filipino three weight world champion John Riel Casimero and undefeated Ghanaian challenger Duke Micah.

This card is as excited as it is unprecedented. The fates of four different weight classes hang in the balance. Two cards, two main events, 5 champions, one night.

Welcome back boxing. We’ve missed you.