Jermell Charlo and Brian Castaño tried to decide the world super-welterweight champion last year. Now a king must be crowned, writes John Dennen
THEIR first encounter was a thriller. It was an excellent contest between the number one and number two at 154lbs. But, instead of deciding the world champion, Jermell Charlo vs Brian Castaño I ended as yet another fight marred by yet another bad decision. Now, in their rematch on Saturday (May 14), they will want to serve up another barnstormer but this time decide a conclusive winner.
The first fight, in July of last year, finished as a split draw. That alone wasn’t an outrage, although Boxing News had Castano winning seven of their 12 rounds, it had been a close fight. It was Nelson Vazquez’ score of 117-111 in Charlo’s favorite that baffled. Instead of talking about their great fight or a new, true champion, the contest ended in confusion and cooperation.
Running it back however should surely resolve that and this rematch promises to be another war. Argentina’s Castaño’s surging attack through the heart of the fight won him the middle rounds. But Charlo hurt him noticeably both early and late on. While the American boxes with quality technique, he also has the power to do damage. As soon as the second round Charlo delivered a countering left hook off the ropes that staggered the Argentine and let Charlo set about him.
Perhaps that early success prompted Charlo to slip into complacency. He moved back, working at a slow pace. In contrast the Argentine upped his intensity and burst through, seizing his opportunity to change the momentum of the fight. He crashed inside setting up crosses with a jab to the chest or leading with the right. Those shots were heavy and drove Charlo back, directing him to the ropes and Castaño also unleashed punishing left hooks. For the most part it was Castaño then who dictated where the bout was fought.
But Charlo carries his power late on too. In the 10th round he smashed a left in and shook up Castaño. The Argentine had to retreat then as Charlo gunned for him, blasting venomous crosses down. Castaño was still gritty enough to see out the contest.
That sets them up for their rematch and what promises to be another exciting battle, to be staged at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. It had to be postponed when Castaño picked up a bicep injury. Although Charlo is implying that was a sign of weakness, Castaño insists he will have no bearing on the fight.
It’s a safe bet that this will be another great fight but it will surely be close again and therefore hard to predict. If Charlo can start where he left off, he’ll begin in the ascendency. Castaño’s aggressive approach will make it easier to score rounds his favor but Charlo will know that he can’t stand off and rely on potshotting. If he’s more active and commits to attacks more often that could tip the balance in his favor and this time Charlo might edge Castaño out on points. But he will have to control the distance between them to keep control of the fight.
“I hate that I didn’t close out the first fight the way I should have. I’m going to be better, faster, stronger and more relentless in this fight. I’m going to be the old school Jermell Charlo,” the American said. “You don’t give people like me opportunities again. I’ve fought for my whole life. I know that I have to seize this opportunity. I’m dead focused and laser sharp.
“I want to step up to the plate and be greater than I’ve ever been. I didn’t come this far to give up or let somebody like this come beat me. I know the mistakes that I made in the first fight and I’m ready to cross the ‘t’ and dot the ‘i’s on them.
“Everybody wants to know how the rematch will be different. I’m considered a puncher and a boxer, and I’m planning to bring some tricks out of the hat this time.”
Charlo is already the holder of the WBC, IBF and WBA belts, Castaño brings the WBO strap so the winner will be the world champion at super-welterweight and also hold all four of the major sanctioning body belts.
“This is what every fighter dreams of. This is what we all set out to do. You build your legacy fight by fight, then you get an opportunity like this and you have to make the most of it,” Castaño said. “Charlo knows that he’s going to have his hands full and that I won the first fight. I like to do my talking inside the ring, but I will say that I’m a warrior and I’m going to show that I’m worthy of this victory. I don’t care what Charlo says, I’m going to be ready for whatever comes my way.
“I want the knockout. I need it and I crave it. That’s my chance to redeem myself and prove that I should have won the first fight outright,” he added. “I want the respect that I’m warranted and that I should be given from him. The first fight was a close fight, but the second fight is going to be even worse for him, because I’m knocking him out.”
There is a decent fight on the undercard when rising welterweight star Jaron Ennis meets Canada’s Custio Clayton. The latter is a solid, unbeaten contender but Philadelphia’s Ennis should be able to outclass him as he continues his ascent through the division.
The Verdict A great fight worthy of its world championship status.