GL: How is everything going in preparation? What can we expect to see from in your first defense against Charles Hatley on April 22?
Jermell Charlo: It's been a real solid preparation. It's been a while, but there have been no setbacks, no injuries through camp so I've been very happy and healthy. I'm physically feeling stronger and much bigger. I'm feeling much better than I did last year going into my world title fight.
GL: Do you know much about Hatley as a fighter?
JC: "My team that surrounds me knows a lot about him. I've been knowing that he was next in line when I won the title, so I'm familiar with who I'm fighting with."
GL: What weaknesses do you see in Hatley that you're confident you'll be able to exploit on fight night?
JC: "I will show you on April 22. To be honest with you I don't want to come out in public talking about his weaknesses."
GL: No need to broadcast what you're planning to exploit, I get it. You haven't fought since last May, so are you concerned with ring rust at all?
JC: "Not necessarily concerned, but I'm just anxious. I don't want that to get the best of me, but I'm just excited like a young kid again."
GL: What does defending your title for the first time mean to you?
JC: "It means I'm going to continue my legacy while staying focused on what got me here. For me, defending my title is like I'm defending my life or my name. My title is like a child to me, I know there's up's and down's and I don't want to encounter them and that's why I take my training so seriously."
GL: What are you hoping a victory on April 22 leads to?
JC: "Bigger names."
GL: Does unification interest you?
JC: "Most definitely. I definitely want to capture the title my brother once had, that's a fight I definitely want to happen."
GL: How many times would you like to fight this year?
JC: "Three times at least, and the goal is to have more than one belt around my waist at the end of the year. Expect it. I heard Charles Hatley was going through some issues where he had to sue his promoter and that's really weird."
GL: That could mean he's focused on things other than you, which isn't wise.
JC: "I don't look at it like that, I think anybody could multi-task, I just don't want my fight to have complications, that's my main concern. I've been training really hard and I've had people pull out on me already and it seems like it's always something when me and my brother have world title fights lined up. I just want to get in there.'
GL: I think you're a fantastic young fighter coming up at 154, but there's no such thing as a perfect fighter. With that being said, what part of your game do you feel needs the most sharpening?
JC: "You know just with me being young, I'm just maturing in the game and on the job. I'm 26 years old now and I turned pro at 17, I've had to learn as a professional. I live and learn by my mistakes in life, you're not going to get a perfect fighter, but you're always going to get the best out of me. It's very important for me to always give the fans my best."
GL: What made you first fall in love with boxing?
JC: "It was for the competition. I'm a very competitive person and my brother started boxing first and I wanted to do what he did and I wanted to be better at doing what he did, and that's when I was 8 or 9 years old. I've always wanted that competition. Having someone like my twin brother at my side everyday, training and grinding, I wanted to do the same thing. I played football all the way through high school, then I continued on boxing made it to a few nationals and it went from there. Then when the money started coming in, I realized that this was something that I could make a life out of doing and I've done just that. I went to college for two years and I realized that I didn't want to sit and work for someone, I didn't want to be in a classroom, or where people mistreat you or treat you bad, that's the main reason I said I got to do this boxing and I've got to be a champion. I want to have a family and I want to be able to feed my family off of my hands."
GL: Has it been difficult for you to hold 154 after being off for nearly a year?
JC: "It hasn't necessarily been difficult, I'm growing though (laughs), I'm getting bigger, I can make this weight just fine. Making the weight has never been a issue because I've been eating healthy my whole life and I train hard and do what I have to do."
GL: Jermall recently vacated his title to move up to middleweight. How much longer do you think you'll be able to hold 154 before you follow him up to middleweight?
JC: "I'm here to unify and then defend the unified titles."
GL: What do you consider your most difficult fight to this point?
JC: "Demetrius Hopkins was a pretty difficult fight and I'm not saying that because he punches hard or anything like that, but he was difficult because I made the fight hard on myself, so when it comes to performance wise, people look at it that way. He was 33-2 at the time and I was 17 or 18-0, and I wasn't really prepared or mentally there. Other than that I was good, I've never been in major trouble in a fight or nothing like that, it's just been me beating myself and making things more difficult than they had to be, but I learned from it."
GL: Whether it's boxing related or not, what do you consider the most difficult thing you've had to overcome in life?
JC: "Separation from my brother in terms of changes coaches, me having to be a boss and step up on my own and take over camp and take over everything. I'm trying to prove the haters and doubters wrong. He stayed with the same coaches, and me having to go back there and see the coaches that I was under once and just being comfortable with that situation, but trying to fight at the same time while keeping my focus and staying in shape. God has been good to me because ever since I left I'm 2-0 with 2 knockouts and I won a world title. I'm not saying I won it by myself, I won it with new stablemates, new coaches, new everything. That was one of the biggest things that I've overcome in my life."
GL: What lead to you wanting to go in a different direction than continuing to work with Ronnie Shields?
JC: "I separated from Ronnie Shields because I opened my own gym and I wanted to be more of an entrepreneur. Ronnie didn't know if I would still be focused and he decided to not come with me, and I decided to leave because I wanted better and I just wasn't digging the training anymore. That's when I had to step out on faith and go out on my own and go from there. Ronnie Shields is a great guy and a great coach, so it's nothing personal against him. Even I was to lose my coach some type of way I could possibly go back to him, I just have to train at their facility. But I like to train at my facility, in my gym where I don't got to worry about anybody yelling at me for being two or three minutes late, stuff like that. I wanted something different and that's what I got, I opened up an 8700 square foot gym in Sugarland and I'm very happy with the way things have been going."
GL: Now for some really tough questions, what's your favorite movie?
JC: "I don't really watch movies like that, but I would have to say The Dark Knight."
GL: I like that one as well, but I think they should have called it The Joker, because that dude stole the movie.
JC: (laughs) "Yeah he did, that's true."
GL: What do you listen to when you're training?
JC: "I listen to whatever they have on in the gym. Migos, Future, I like Drake music a lot, I listen to all kinds of music. I like Wale's lyrics, I like the way he raps."
GL: Who is your favorite boxer of all time? Who is your favorite active fighter?
JC: "Joan Guzman is one of my favorite fighters, I've always like the skill he fought with. Another one of them is Evander Holyfield, I just think he's a warrior and I respect the things he's been through and what he's accomplished."
GL: What does fighting at the Barclay's Center on an event like Berto-Porter mean to you?
JC: "I wish it was Jermell-Hatley. I like New York a lot and I've never fought there before so I don't know the environment of that fight world. I've never even been to a fight there or at Madison Square Garden, so this is going to be something new for me and I'm excited, it's making me feel like I'm refreshed and new in boxing again. I'm looking forward to putting on a show on April 22."
GL: Other than victory do you have a prediction?
JC: "I've got to get the knockout."
GL: Are you hoping that your headlining as world champion on the next event you're featured on?
JC: "I want me and my brother to be household names and I want us to get the credit and respect that we deserve. We train hard, we work hard, we're boxers who get in there and put our life on the line for our families. We're twins and we're very marketable and I want to be able to really represent that."
GL: Is there anything you'd like to say to the fans in closing?
JC: "Let's turn up! Get excited for this fight, keep all of your energy positive and don't miss this event."