Brian Castaño could easily have won his fight with Jermell Charlo last July, despite fighting on Charlo’s turf, despite giving up five inches in height and six inches in reach, despite being significantly less experienced and despite being nearly a 3-1 underdog.
Castaño rocked Charlo several times and forced Charlo to mount a desperate late rally to get a split draw. Each judge saw it differently. Tim Cheatham had it 114-114, a draw. Steve Weisfeld favored Castaño 114-113 while Nelson Vazquez saw it 117-111 for Charlo.
On Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, they’ll rematch for the undisputed super welterweight championship, and Castaño will enter the ring with a massive chip on his shoulder.
The one thing that Charlo is clearly better at than Castaño is talking and self-promoting. Charlo has spoken out loudly about his belief he won the first fight and will take the rematch. Castaño doesn’t play the media game much, but he’s heard everything Charlo said.
“I want the respect that I’m warranted and that I should be given from him,” Castaño said. “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.”
The odds still favor Charlo, but have narrowed. At BetMGM, Charlo is a -205 favorite with Castaño at +165.
The odds are understandable if you look at the physical differences between the men. Castaño fought pretty much the fight of his life, while Charlo left the ring knowing he could have done more.
It’s hard to be too critical of Charlo, because he’s 34-1-1, owns three of the four super welterweight belts and has avenged his only defeat, turning a unanimous decision loss to Tony Harrison into an 11th-round TKO victory in the rematch.
But as good as he’s been, though, Charlo always seems to leave fans wanting more. Maybe it’s the curse of being superbly talented, but Charlo is one of those guys who, even in his best moments, seems to have more to give.
Charlo is a fighter who seems to get less out of more, while Castaño has made a habit of getting more out of less. Charlo has height and reach advantages, a big speed advantage and twice the professional experience of Castaño.
Castaño’s margin for error is slim. He has to get past Charlo’s jab, which occasionally gave him issues in the first fight, and not give Charlo room. He can’t allow Charlo free rein to use the entire ring.
But Castaño insists that he, too, has more to give in the rematch.
“Charlo knows that he’s going to have his hands full and that I won the first fight,” Castaño said. “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. I went into his home state and turned the crowd against him.”
The winner of the bout will be only the seventh undisputed champion in the four-belt era. Bernard Hopkins became the first in 2001 when he knocked out Tito Trinidad to win the undisputed middleweight title. Jermain Taylor took it from Hopkins in 2005.
Terence Crawford won the undisputed super lightweight title, as did Josh Taylor, who currently holds that. Oleksandr Usyk, now holder of three of the four heavyweight belts, won the undisputed cruiserweight in 2018 in the World Boxing Super Series tournament. And last year, Canelo Alvarez unified the super middleweight belts.
It’s quite a list and the winner of Saturday’s bout will be in elite company. Charlo said he wants to put on a show and establish his superiority.
“His power isn’t important to me,” Charlo said of Castaño. “I don’t care if he’s stronger now. It’s about skills and everyone is going to find out what the deal is on [Saturday]. I thought I won the first fight, period. I hurt him way more. He may have edged a few rounds. I won the early rounds of the fight and the late rounds of the fight.
“I know I’m on a whole other level than he is and I’m going to present myself when it’s time. [Saturday], I’m going to be peaking. I’m going to let him keep talking, because I’m going to be dangerous in this fight.”