The first 154-pound undisputed championship fight within the four-belt era lived up to its promise in terms of drama and competitiveness. Even that, unfortunately, couldn’t save Jermell Charlo and Brian Castaño from seeing their efforts marred by questionable scoring. Castano (17-0-2), the reigning WBO champion, was forced to accept a controversial split draw on Saturday after largely outboxing Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KOs) before holding off a late rally inside AT&T Center in San Antonio.
Judge Tim Cheatham scored it 114-114 and Steve Weisfeld had it 114-113 in favor of Castaño. But Nelson Vasquez turned during a head-scratcher of 117-111 for Charlo, which allowed him to retain his WBA, WBC, and IBF titles. CBS Sports had it 116-112, also for Castaño. Despite what seemed to be a scarcity of urgency midway through the fight as Charlo, the 31-year-old counter puncher, was far too selective in his output, the native of Houston picked up the pace considerably over the ultimate three rounds. Charlo hurt Castaño in Round 10 but couldn’t drop or finish him, which led most to believe Castaño, a 31-year-old native of Argentina, had done enough.
Castaño outlanded Charlo over 12 rounds by a margin of 173 to 151, consistent with CompuBox, including 164 to 98 in power shots. “The draw wasn’t what I wanted to listen to. If anything, I won this fight,” Charlo said. “Brian Castaño may be a tough warrior. he’s getting to provides a lot of individuals problems but as I said, my power is serious during this division.
“My coach told me I needed a knockout and that I just knew he knew what he was talking about. I trust him. this is often the primary time something like this happened to me.” Although the instructions down the stretch from trainer Derrick James, telling Charlo he needed a knockout to win, appeared to get on point, the trend of becoming too patient while looking to finish the fight with around has followed Charlo for years. His low output was a serious theme in his disputed decision loss to Tony Harrison in 2018 and Charlo seemed to be down on the scorecards late in their rematch one year later before scoring a late finish.
Not only did Castaño avoid imploding despite Charlo landing the larger shots late, he fought brilliantly to neutralize his foe with a defensively responsible pressure attack heavy on lead right hands. Charlo became far too willing to repel the ropes, which helped Castaño attempt to bully him, acting because of the ring general throughout a series of close rounds.
Even better for Castaño, he regularly closed rounds with big flurries in ways in which could’ve (or even should’ve) easily swung the judges in his favor at the top of every competitive frame. “Basically, I won the fight,” Castaño said. “There were some rounds that he hit me, little question about it. He hit me hard but I won the fight. “In the 10th round, I used to be hurt. I used to be trying to recoup a touch bit within the 11th round, but I won the fight. I did enough to win the fight.”
Castaño’s smart boxing also opened lanes for giant powers shots within his late flurries. He seemed to buckle Charlo’s knees to shut Round 3 with a left hook along the ropes. Charlo’s biggest issue was how regularly he abandoned his jab. But once he acknowledged the danger of not finishing strong heading into the championship rounds, his response was perfect as Charlo landed the larger shots late while backing Castaño up.
“He threw a hell of tons of punches against almost any opponent he ever fought but with my skills and power, I kept him off of me,” Charlo said. “He had his guard up really high. I used to be moving a touch but probably not active enough. I do not have any excuses, though. I feel proud to possess fought for an undisputed title.” Although Castaño gave Charlo his respect after the fight, it had been obvious he felt as if he had been robbed and openly propositioned for a second chance. “I hope there’s a rematch,” Castaño said. “He may be a terrific fighter too. I would like a rematch.”