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‘I wanted to see myself get better’: Jermall Charlo talks about returning to boxing after hiatus

Jermall Charlo says he had to deal with some personal issues to make sure he was in the right frame of mind to continue his fighting career.

Jermall Charlo returns this weekend against Jose Benavidez Jr.
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

During the latest episode of The Last Stand Podcast, WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo talks to Brian Custer about his upcoming fight against Jose Benavidez Jr, returning from a long layoff, and responds to those critical of his title reign. Check out some excerpts of what Charlo had to say below.

Charlo on why his fight with Benavidez Jr isn’t happening at 160 where he holds a title

“I want to just say, I guess, the handlers. I let everyone do their thing. I’m not picking the weight, I’m not picking the opponent. I’m going in short-term, no like big, extensive, crazy camp preparing for this guy. We’re going to go in there and fight and get it going.”

On concerns about ring rust after seeing his brother and Errol Spence lose following long layoffs

“I don’t want to say ‘concern.’ A factor, maybe. I mean it’s part of the game, I’m not making any excuses or covering for Errol Spence or my twin’s boxing and we get in there and do what we need to shouldn’t be any ring rust, maybe just to get back in the feel of things but I guess you can knock that off with sparring. I should be alright.”

On what caused him to take a long hiatus from boxing

“I wanted to see myself get better, not worse. Sometimes it’s not all about boxing. I’ve spent and dedicated my whole life to boxing but at the same time, if you really know me I wasn’t becoming the person I want to become because I have to continue to get myself better and I dealt with some mental issues, I dealt with some injuries, things of that nature where we don’t really have to discuss. Just, I lost a lot and got it back, I’m here for it all now.

“I guess boxing takes a toll on you where the fans kind of expect this crazy big lifestyle, don’t think we actually go through things and ever be in dark places and be where we not found. And I found myself slipping down that path that I didn’t want to be in. I’m better now, away from trouble. I’m home. I got to spend the last couple of years with my kids and finding out who they really are and not just boxing.”

On if he believes he’s let some of his prime fighting years pass him by

“Nah, because I’m a real advocate of this. A lot of fighters, they’re real physical and physically strong and they’re knockout artists. But there’s always this up and down level of where you really at in your mind. So I feel like when your mind lines up with your physical ability, that’s when you’re in your prime and that’s where I’ve reached. I’ve reached the point in my life where I feel like my mind is just as strong as me.”

On those who believe he should’ve been stripped of his title by now

“Favor isn’t fair. I mean what can you say, I got better. Did ya’ll want to see me fight when I wasn’t at my peak or did ya’ll want to see the champion fight for everything they’ve built?...The future is here and I’m here to bring it so the title is just a trophy. I’m here for my legacy, I’m here for longevity.”

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