There might not be a more exhilarating feeling for a fighter than winning a world championship—especially via knockout … then again, most fighters don’t follow up such triumphant title celebrations with highlight-reel KOs in successive championship defenses.

But that’s exactly what Jermell Charlo did in 2017.

After knocking out John Jackson in May 2016 to claim the WBC’s 154-pound belt, the Houston native came back with an even louder statement—scoring back-to-back knockouts in his two ring appearances in 2017.
Charlo’s first title defense took place in April against once-beaten Charles Hatley, who Charlo vowed to put down after plenty of prefight verbal sparring.

Charlo controlled the fight through five rounds and flipped the lights out in the sixth when he landed a devastating right hand that laid Hatley out cold on the canvas.

Charlo was back proving his haters wrong again in October.

While plenty of pugilistic pundits and fans thought undefeated contender Erickson Lubin posed a serious threat—Charlo erased any doubts late in the first round when he landed a short right uppercut that left Lubin quivering on the mat.

Charlo’s two title defenses in 2017 not only pushed him to the top of the 154-pound pecking order, but made “Iron Man” one of the hottest boxers in the sport and our pick for Fighter of the Year.