Jermell Charlo unified three junior middleweight world titles with an eighth-round knockout victory over Jeison Rosario on Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. And the final blow was among the most unusual knockout punches you'll ever see -- a left jab to the body.
Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs), who had hit the canvas in the first and sixth rounds, was knocked down at the beginning of the eighth from the spearing shot from Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs), and he seemed to have problems catching his breath. He was unable to beat the count of referee Harvey Dock, who reached the count of 10 at 21 seconds of the round.
"I definitely proved that I'm more than just a puncher, but I also showed again that I'm a big puncher. I'd give myself an A tonight," Charlo said. "I stuck to my game plan and listened to my coach. Everything we did in camp, I used it in this fight. I pushed myself the whole way through training camp. It's been a journey for me. I'm bringing the straps home to my family like they told me to."
Charlo said the body blow was simply the culmination of earlier blows that wore down Rosario.
"I think some of the previous punches I landed hurt him before the jab," Charlo said. "The body shot that landed just hit the right point."
Charlo got off to a quick start, sending Rosario down with a left hook to the top of the head. Then, near the end of the sixth, a flashing left hook had him down again. This time, he was badly hurt and Rosario was saved by the bell.
Between the knockdowns, Rosario actually put up a pretty good fight, as he went forward and outworked Charlo with a thunderous body attack. Rosario was actually winning his share of rounds after his first trip to the canvas, as he put Charlo on his back foot.
"I knew that he was going to keep coming after the first knockdown. He kept pressing for four or five rounds until I floored him again," Charlo said. "I'm growing and learning that the knockout just comes. I know that I have explosive power in both hands. I utilized my jab more than any other punch in this fight and that's what got me these straps."
With the victory, Charlo added the IBF and WBA belts to his WBC 154-pound title.
"Dreams do come true," Charlo said. "This is a part of my dream and a part of my destiny. I'm satisfied and I'm happy."