Boxing fans will have to wait longer to see the next crowning of an undisputed champion in the four belt era. Recently we have seen Josh Taylor, Oleksandr Usyk and Terrence Crawford gain all four major sanctioning titles with Teofimo Lopez holding a debated claim to that status. Charlo and Castano met at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas this past Saturday to unify all four major titles at 154 lbs. and the dramatic main event ended in a highly disputed draw. The fight is now a leading contender for fight of the year and it is being over shadowed by a crazy scorecard turned in by Puerto Rican judge Nelson Vazquez who scored it 117-111 for Charlo. Here is a summary of my thoughts on the big fight from this past weekend.
The Score: I disagree with the draw, I think Castano won but given the history of controversial decisions in big fights I am relieved that it was a draw and not a loss for Castano. Vazquez was overruled by Tim Cheatham who scored it 114-114 even and Steve Weisfeld who scored the tenth round 10-8 to Charlo despite the lack of a knockdown or point deduction. TV analyst Steve Farhood had the fight scored 114-114 on the broadcast while I scored it 116-112 for Castano. Mike Coppinger made famous from his work at the Athletic now writing for ESPN scored it 117-111 for Castano and railed against this fight as a serious robbery. Personally I had the fight 116-112 for Castano with Charlo winning rounds 2, 10, 11, and 12 but this was a very competitive fight. However, a fight can be both competitive and close but I feel there was only one winner and that is Castano. A Charlo win would have been a total robbery and I do not throw that term around liberally. I will say some are saying round five and round six were up for grabs so I will have to re-watch. I plan to do a review later in the week based on the rounds scored for Charlo officially and review and score them over again to measure the controversy. I do understand boxing scoring is very subjective and sitting in one spot live without replay or punch stat or anything can definitely produce a score different from watching it on TV. However, Nelson Vazquez turned in a horrible scorecard.
The Action: Castano succeeded in the first two thirds of this fight based on his ability to force the pace and back Charlo up. Despite a significant height disadvantage and a fight night weight that looked a weight class or two smaller it was Castano who pushed the larger Charlo back and commanded the fight. Charlo rocked Castano badly in the second round however he was stunned by a left hook in the third round and Castano had some of his best work in the fourth. Castano kept up a strong and consistent pace on the front foot and discouraged Charlo from throwing combinations as his hands stayed home for most of the fight. Charlo’s Trainer Derrick James was begging for him to stay off the ropes and open up his offense and he struggled to accomplish either for most of the fight. Castano was in control after nine rounds and was typically putting a stamp on each round in the final thirty seconds. His punches were often short and compact that caught Charlo by surprise. Despite getting through the defense frequently he only had Charlo rocked a few times. Charlo nearly had Castano on the floor in the tenth round with a short counter with well over a minute to go. The inactive Charlo hit big and tried to follow up but Castano intelligently stayed away and even fired off a brave counter later in the round while punching with Jermell. After that round Charlo took command and began to do everything James had been imploring him to do all night. Castano still had a good eleventh round but Charlo had a strong final minute as he threw more in combination. Castano was game in the twelfth but Charlo certainly carried the final round. Some fans are pointing out the fact that Charlo hurt Castano more frequently and that is true but boxing is scored on a round by round basis. Charlo did all of his damage in less rounds and was hurt several times himself, especially in round three.
Rematch: Castano definitley wants the rematch while Charlo when asked first said he needed to talk to Al Haymon first. I hope this fight happens but I am starting to wonder if Charlo will take the high road. There are rumors of a Danny Garcia fight, a move to 160 or possibly Errol Spence. I feel like Charlo’s people were banking on them being a level above Castano and did not expect this to be close or that there would be a need for a rematch. Now there has been a controversial fight and a failure to reach undisputed. This is the fight that makes sense as we need clarity and unification and the two matched up so well. That said, despite Charlo’s disappointing answer about the rematch I think he will win the rematch if they fight. I think Charlo found something in those last three rounds and if he does it sooner he will win and possibly even stop Castano. My early pick and you can hold it against me is Charlo by TKO 9 or 10 in a rematch.
Charlo Pound for Pound?: I do not typically give a shit about pound for pound but I know this has been argued non stop recently. I thought Michael Montero made a pretty good defense of Jermell not being on the Ring top ten list and followed that up by saying ESPN and Transnational Boxing Rankings did not do it either. I am not saying this to be harsh on Charlo because he is a unified champion with some good wins but I just don’t see him as a top ten talent pound for pound. I think he has a solid jab and cross and has solid fundamentals but outside his power he is a little bit limited. I felt Tony Harrison out boxed him in their initial encounter and was thoroughly beating him in the rematch before succumbing to Charlo’s power. In this fight he was beaten by someone on the front foot beating him to the punch and taking the play away. So we have seen him beaten on the back and front foot and showing plenty of vulnerability in all three of those fights. Again this is not to shit on his accomplishments or call him a bum I just do not think he is great, yet. I also do not love his chances at 160 against the elite at least not yet. Charlo is proven to have a terrific punch and has shown a great ability to absorb a hard punch and keep going.
All in all I look forward to a rematch and will revisit the Charlo rounds and see what I think on a third viewing.