Seemingly from the moment that Saturday's super welterweight unification against Jermell Charlo was announced, Jeison Rosario has not been shy about his intentions.
"This is going to be a war," Rosario said during Wednesday's final press conference. "I'm a warrior, and I'm going to find a way to win. That's the only thing on my mind."
Despite being the only fighter bringing two world titles into this weekend's unique pay-per-view doubleheader (Showtime PPV, 7 p.m. ET) inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, there's a feeling as if Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) is playing with house money as the unlikely underdog with nothing to lose.
Rosario, 25, wasn't supposed to beat then-unified champion Julian Williams when he stopped him in January. The native of the Dominican Republic is a 3-1 underdog to do the same to Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs).
Either way, the fighter nicknamed "Banana" isn't taking anything to chance. Although he said he would be willing to box for 12 rounds only if Charlo makes him, he prefers going to war and promises a potassium-filled right hand repeatedly reserved for the WBC champion's chin.
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Many fighters who have employed a similar strategy against the 30-year-old Charlo have ended up looking up at the lights. It brings to light questions of whether this is a smart game plan for Rosario despite, simultaneously, being his only legitimate chance to win.
"We are all strong fighters and everybody has a puncher's chance, but it's about skills," Charlo told CBS Sports HQ on Thursday. "Skills make the fights and skills pay the bills. I'm not too focused on his power, he needs to be focused on my power. I'm the one who has spectacular knockouts and put guys to sleep. He can punch guys but he has had some different oppositions.
"We going into this fight, we are evenly matched. We've both got attributes that are great but I feel like I'm the better fighter and I'm the king of the division."
The winner of this clash at 154 pounds will likely become the power broker in a division loaded up with talent to the gills. By holding three of the four recognized world titles, Charlo or Rosario would have a huge say in who has next in a list that includes Tony Harrison, Julian Williams, Erickson Lubin, Jarrett Hurd and Erislandy Lara. Patrick Teixeira currently holds the fourth 154-pound title, but he resides on the other side of the promotional street with Top Rank.
What Charlo must contend with is the great unknown regarding Rosario's true ceiling and the fact that the Williams upset marked just the first time Rosario underwent a full professional training camp despite being a 21-fight veteran.
"People are going to see on Saturday that it was no fluke that I beat Julian Williams the way that I did," Rosario said.
After seeing his brother walk away victorious in the first main event with a win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko, the pressure is now on Jermell Charlo to complete the sweep in his fight. Oddsmakers believe he will get the job done as well as they have installed him as a prohibitive favorite over Rosario at 5-1. That line has moved since the opening with tons of action coming in on Charlo. Let's take a look at the rest of the fight card with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook before making a prediction.
Fight card, odds
- Jermell Charlo (c) -500 vs. Jeison Rosario (c) +380, WBC, WBA, IBF super welterweight unification
- Luis Nery -2200 vs. Aaron Alameda +1100, vacant WBC super bantamweight title
- Daniel Roman -2000 vs. Juan Carlos Payano +1000, super bantamweights
Although Rosario proved against Williams that he can take a big punch in order to stay in the pocket and land counter shots of his own, he has also been stopped once before in a 2017 loss to credible journeyman Nathaniel Gallimore.
There's no question Rosario's destruction of Williams was impressive for reasons that extend beyond how unlikely the outcome seemed at the time. But is there reason to believe the TKO was a bit of fool's gold considering Williams had previously been stopped before in disastrous fashion by Charlo's older brother, and former 154-pound world champion, Jermall?
Charlo believes that to be true. Yet even though he's expected to have an advantage as the more skilled power puncher who can end the fight with one shot, Charlo must avoid making the same mistake of not throwing enough punches that he made in a pair of close title fights he split over the last two years against Harrison.
Either way, the more you listen to Rosario talk, the more you get the idea he doesn't want to gamble on the hope that the judges see the fight his way. That posture of reckless endangerment will likely become his undoing against a sniper as powerful and precise as Charlo, who is looking to make a monster statement in his first headlining PPV role.
Pick: Charlo via TKO10