AT the end the 12th round of his successful WBC middleweight title defence against Brandon AdamsJermall Charlo returned to his corner, took the gloves off and said he had hurt his left hand early in the contest.

After promising to turn in a spectacular performance in front of his hometown crowd, who were out in force at the NRG Arena, it was as if the champion was looking for an excuse as to why he couldn’t dispose of the challenger before the match had run its course.

Those around Charlo fussed over his hand – the same one he had not refrained from using during the contest. It was much ado about nothing: Charlo simply could not stop Adams, but nevertheless was dominant in winning a unanimous decision that was scored 120-108 by judges Steve Morrow and Don Griffin, 119-109 by Sutherland. Laurence Cole refereed.

Jermall Charlo
Jermall Charlo defeats Brandon Adams Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

Charlo described Adams perfectly beforehand, calling him spunky. And that is what he was throughout. Having won the last installment of the Contender series, Adams’ confidence was high. He was frequently in Charlo’s face the second half of the contest, but lacked the speed and power to pose a serious threat.

The champion was putting everything into his punches. It did not please his trainer Ronnie Shields, who told him at the end of the sixth round, “You’re trying too hard to knock him out.”

Charlo kept trying and would temporarily hurt the Californian, but Adams was resilient and even taunted Charlo sporadically at the end. A few seconds before the final bell rang, Adams – a safe distance from Charlo – stopped and bowed to the champion in a sign of respect.

In the week of the fight Charlo was promoted from WBC interim to regular champion when the group ludicrously bestowed upon Canelo Alvarez the “Franchise” tag. Now he has a predicament – being the only elite middleweight under the promotional banner of the PBC drastically reduces the possibility of him securing a mega fight with Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade, or Daniel Jacobs among others.

Until Charlo beats at least one of the above it is hard to make a case for him being the best middleweight in the world.

The name Charlo does not conjure up fond memories for Erickson Lubin, whose only loss was a devastating first-round stoppage to Jermall’s brother Jermell, late in 2017.

Lubin, 23, has now won three in a row since then, stopping France’s Zakaria Attou at 1-19 of the fourth of a scheduled 12-round WBC super-welterweight elimination bout.

Attou, from Paris and boxing in the United States for the first time, hurt his right biceps in the third round. At the end of the round he discussed the injury with his corner, but still came out for the fourth.

Considering how outclassed he had been over the first three sessions, remaining on the stool would have been his best option. But credit the Frenchman with showing heart.

Out for the fourth he came, but Lubin got him on the ropes and teed off with a series of power punches. Referee Jon Schorle should have stopped it shortly before Attou went down. Attou got to his feet and the towel came flying in.

Only time will tell whether the Charlo fiasco was an aberration or whether Orlando’s Lubin is chinny. Indications are that it is the former.

Santo Domingo’s Claudio Marrero outpointed Mexico’s Eduardo Ramirez over 12 rounds in a WBA featherweight title eliminator. Ramirez, who lost widely on points to then IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby in the UK less than two years ago, mounted a bit more offence against Marrero than he did on that night, but it still was not enough.

Nevertheless the margins of judges Glen Crocker at 115-113, Ruben Carrion 116-112, and James Green 118-110 did him no favours. Rafael Ramos refereed.

The bigger blows were landed by Marrero, but Ramirez’s chin was solid. Ramirez moved in and out and peppered Marrero with a series of punches. Marrero came forward and tried to rough Ramirez up whenever he could.

The fast-paced bout was entertaining, but it is fair to ask how Marrero can now become a mandatory challenger considering he had lost two of his last three going into this fight.

The Verdict Charlo can be a factor at 160, but getting top opponents may be a struggle.

Jermall Charlo (159 1/2lbs), 29-0 (21), w pts 12 Brandon Adams (160lbs), 21-3 (13); Erickson Lubin (154lbs), 21-1 (16), w rsf 4 Zakaria Attou (154lbs), 29-7-2 (7); Claudio Marrero (126lbs), 24-3 (17), w pts 12 Eduardo Ramirez(125lbs), 22-2-3 (9); Miguel Flores (130lbs), 24-2 (12), w rsf 6 Luis May(130lbs), 21-15-1 (8); Ryan Karl (147lbs), 17-2 (11), w rsf 1 David Morales(147lbs), 13-12 (13); Leon Lawson III (154lbs), 11-0 (4), w pts 4 Even Alexis Torres (154lbs), 7-8 (5); Nelson Hampton (135lbs), 6-2 (4), w pts 6 Dakota Linger (135lbs), 11-2-2 (7); Cesar Cantu (135lbs), 2-0 (1), w rsf 1 Chante Bowens (135lbs), 0-3; Zamy Larry (154lbs), 1-0 (1), w rsf 1 Ranieri Souza(154lbs), 0-3; Omar Juarez (147lbs), 4-0 (2), w rsf 1 Seifullah J’had Wise(147lbs), 3-7 (1); Mark Beuke (168lbs), 3-2 (1), w pts 4 Mycheal Teal(168lbs), 3-1 (2); Marsellos Wilder (200lbs), 4-1 (2), w pts 4 Tyler Vogel(200lbs), 3-3 (2).