The Charlo Incident and the Psychology of Combat

By Marc Livitz on December 14, 2016
The Charlo Incident and the Psychology of Combat
Action and reaction is always the name of the game. (Mike Williams/Top Rank)

For lack of a less jovial term, Charlo abruptly told Williams to take a proverbial hike when he was approached for a customary post-fight handshake…

In the current climate of sports among the younger crowd in the United States, it’s all too common for each athletic hopeful to receive a trophy of participation regardless of a team’s record or efforts given on the playing field. The spirit of sportsmanship is almost ingrained in the American psyche, even though one is perhaps more likely to receive an unfriendly strike from a bolt of lightning than make a living as a professional athlete. This past Saturday evening in Los Angeles, Jermall “Hitman” Charlo pulled off a shocker of sorts by way of a fifth round TKO victory over previously unbeaten Julian “J-Rock” Williams. The IBF super welterweight title captured by the Houston, Texas native last year was at stake in a bout which had all the trimmings and potential to steal the evening’s thunder from the main event set to take place immediately afterwards.

A perfectly placed counter uppercut made the difference sometime near midway through round five. Charlo (25-0, 19 KO’s) connected and Williams (22-1-1, 14 KO’s) was sent to the canvas with a brain rocking shot that would permanently floor most fighters, yet this wasn’t the case for “J-Rock”. The man from Philly rose to his feet, however he didn’t think to hold, dance or run. This was of course to his detriment as Jermall proceeded to unload with a barrage of cleanly landed punches which sent Julian back to the floor for good this time. Referee Wayne Hedgpeth stopped the contest at the 2:06 mark of the fifth and Charlo retained his title. Julian tasted defeat for the first time in his professional career.

What transpired shortly thereafter has been a hot topic of conversation for the past two days. Williams had publicly as well as loudly called out Jermall before and during the buildup to the contest and the south Texas fighter understandably took exception to the verbal sparring. For lack of a less jovial term, Charlo abruptly told Williams to take a proverbial hike when he was approached for a customary post-fight handshake. Although he apologized shortly thereafter when being interviewed by Showtime’s Jim Gray, the damage was done in the eyes of many. To add water to the fire, Jermall and Julian even posted a picture across social media of the two of them together accompanied by championship belts as well as smiles. Still, the verbal as well as written assaults have continued. This article will in no way seek to defend the Houston native’s actions, but rather ask readers to try to assume the role of someone who has given up their life to chase a dream.

Boxing isn’t full of millionaires in the same fashion as the NFL or NBA. To his credit, Julian Williams did a quick spin away from the victorious Charlo when he understood that his congratulatory wishes weren’t going to be accepted. What was more surprising? The fact that a man from the south hurled such insults? Aren’t southerners supposed to be more cordial? Likewise, didn’t the people of Philadelphia once boo Santa Claus and to this day still cheer when an opposing player is injured on the field of play against the hometown Eagles? For those who have been in a ring and actually taken part in a fight, it’s understood that it’s not always the punches and movement in and around the box that bring the pain. It’s the stress. Each round is a three minute exercise in guesswork, defense and strategizing. This is not a team sport, just as many fighters remind an opponent that their respective corner and handlers don’t accompany him into the ring.

The shot which Charlo landed required not only incredible speed, but almost psychic anticipation as well. Perhaps he felt that those who were watching the bout expected him to be on the losing end of a punch from his hard hitting foe. Granted, team sports usually end in a friendly handshake, yet most of them don’t involve hitting another individual, at least not with the fists (or gloves). Emotions run high and the headaches which can easily accompany a professional scrap only add to the building frustration. It’s not easy, folks. Most adults can’t defend themselves or trade shots with another human for more than a minute on average. Yes, these guys are here for our entertainment but they’re still people.

Give the guy a break or better yet, wrap those hands and lace up the gloves just to get an idea of how difficult it really is. It’s a rough sport and yes, competitors sometimes die from the punishment dealt by the sweet science. Many of us may have had an instance in an organized or even a pickup game where an opponent may have committed a questionable offense. Sometimes we retaliate and sometimes we hold it in while wishing something heavy falls on their head with the welcome friend in karma.

We’re not perfect and we shouldn’t hold a professional sportsman to higher standards at all times. Williams may have played the role of the verbally abusive bully and he got his comeuppance in the rudest of fashions. It happens. People react in different ways. Action and reaction is always the name of the game.

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Jermall Charlo Knocks Out Julian Williams | SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING



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  1. No10Count 11:38am, 12/31/2016

    I agree that Williams was a bit exposed for the same reason.
    That jab. The upper cut is another story. Not everyone has granite for a chin.
    It will be interesting to watch Williams next few fights. See if this hardens him or breaks him.

    Was a very good win for Charlo.
    But both brothers need to fight more.

  2. The Thresher 06:30pm, 12/14/2016

    It’s still 99.9%  Eric

  3. Moon-man 03:54pm, 12/14/2016

    Actually this incident was pretty tame when you compare it to incidents involving fighters like Golota, Duran, Tyson, or Riddick Bowe and his “entourage.” Duran could be classless in victory and defeat. Can’t quite remember exactly, but didn’t Duran spit in Leonard’s face after their first bout? Duran vs. Lampkin post-fight interview, and the story about Duran shoving some fighter’s girlfriend out of the ring after knocking out her boyfriend out. Not to mention Duran hitting Buchanan in the nutz.

  4. The Thresher 01:32pm, 12/14/2016

    What Charlo did was the rare exception. 99.9% of the fighters express mutual respect after the fight. Even Chisora and Whyte hugged one another.  Charlo did the wrong thing. End of story—for me.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:07am, 12/14/2016

    Take this to the bank….Caitlin Jenner and Cindy Crawford are identical twins separated at birth!

  6. Moon-man 07:46am, 12/14/2016

    Irish….Charles Manson is a better person than Hillary or Bill Clinton. Wonder if Charlie was ever involved in any “spirit cooking?”

  7. Moon-man 07:09am, 12/14/2016

    “Aren’t southerners supposed to be more cordial?” It might suprise a “Yankee” but many “southerners” don’t consider Texans as “southerners” and Texans don’t think of themselves as “southerners.” Texas, like my home state of Maryland, is considered a southern state, but neither identify themselves as “southern.” Having spent a great deal of time in the South, let me tell you, all that southern hospitality caca is total bullshit. Some of the most backstabbing, two-face, pretentious people, you will ever want to meet. They’ll talk about you behind your back as soon as you leave the room. That being said, assholes aren’t limited to one region of the country, and the same could be said for the good people out there. I’m sure the City Of Brotherly Love has some good people and I forgive them for booing Mike Schmidt as well. LIved in a great deal of places and I find the people from the Midwest the most genuine and trustworthy.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:30am, 12/14/2016

    The one who was exposed here was Williams…..that uppercut was a quick, sharp punch that should not have devastated him the way it did, just as he should not have been hurt ....yes hurt…. by that earlier jab. As far as Charlo being an asshole….heat of the moment or not….he’s still a far better person than Hillary Clinton….so big friggin’ whoop!

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