I was actually planning to start winding down my scouting series on up-and-coming boxers, but I came across a World Series Of Boxing bout from a few years ago that made me curious about one of the participants. So here we are, back scouting some of the World's better young boxers.
So far we've had a look at:
Heavyweight Anthony Joshua, touted as the next great heavyweight of his generation.
Light heavyweight Russian youngster Dmitry Bivol
Minimumweight titleholder Kosei Tanaka
Former 2012 US Olympian Jose Carlos Ramirez, fighting at jr. welterweight.
Power punching American super-featherweight Saul Rodriguez
Former 2012 US Olympian Joseph 'JoJo' Diaz Jr., fighting at featherweight.
Today we'll be heading way down South to Argentina to have a look at amateur standout Brian Castano, the 2010 South American Games Gold Medalist at welterweight, with amateur victories over Errol Spence (yes way!), Esquiva Falcao and most impressively, a win at middleweight over Russian tank Sergiy 'The Technician' Derevyanchenko in the World Series Of Boxing (Derevyanchenko was 23-1 in World Series of Boxing before turning pro and that was his one loss). Castano started his career in his homeland of Argentina at jr. middleweight and has recently moved over to the States and joined Mayweather Promotions... for some reason... and, presumably, the Mayweather gym in Las Vegas. He is 11-0 with 8 stoppages thus far. Here are some of his bouts, in chronological order:
First and foremost, you have absolutely got to check out the aforementioned World Series Of Boxing bout against Sergey Derevyanchenko. It's a brutal 5-round war, it's very competitive and this way you also get a look at Derevyanchenko, who is rated as the top middleweight prospect by Bad Left Hook, although at his age and with his amateur seasoning, he is pretty much a contender already.
Here is Castano's professional debut, a 4th round stoppage.
Here is his 2nd pro-fight, the one I actually thought he had the most trouble in (before a brutal 5th round TKO), against a guy who was just 1-0 at the time but in the mean time has grown into a very solid local contender on the Argentinian scene.
Here is his (brief) 6th pro fight, where he looked much better against a softer opponent.
Here is his last bout in Argentina before moving to the US, a 2nd round stoppage.
And here is his (once again very brief) US debut.
And lastly, here is his most recent bout (part 1 and part 2) , where he actually went the full 8 round distance against young Mexican club fighter Aaron Garcia.
As usual, here is a list of things I noticed, divided into several categories:
The Very Best
1) Work rate. Castano is just a whirlwind of punches. He punches all the time, doesn't take any minutes or rounds off. Just a hailstorm in the ring.
2) Aggression. He will attack you for every minute of every round if you let him. He is on top of his adversary at all times. He will not let the opponent rest for 10 seconds. Except for his latest bout, where he seemed more calculated.
3) Ring movement. Castano is very light on his feet, jumping up-and-down on his toes all the time. He moves really well. He is fast, he closes distance on his target like lightning, he moves laterally pretty well, especially if you try to trap him on the ropes. He even moves back decently enough after an attack.
4) Hand speed. The flurries he attacks with are really, really fast. Granted, they are mostly a succession of short hooks but boy, do they come like an avalanche.
5) Upper body movement. He varies levels pretty often, sometimes dodging punches, sometimes changing angles for an attack. Definitely a mobile fighter.
6) Toughness. He is very eager to exchange, very eager to wrestle, push and rumble, even when faced with a bigger man such as Derevyanchenko. He does not seem discouraged by size difference, pain, or the mixed success of his offense.
7) Improvement. I notice clear signs of improvement as a fighter from his earlier bouts.
8) Power. He is definitely a dedicated puncher and there are several highlight-reel knockdowns and stoppages above. But I wouldn't say he has impressive power. First of all his 73% KO ratio is slightly misleading because several of his stoppage victories are all sorts of weird instances of the opponent quitting semi-inexplicably. And secondly, he punches so much and lands so many power punches, that you'd figure more of them would have an effect. Several of his opponents only went down on the 20th or 30th full power punch on the chin.
9) Head movement. I have seen him dodge punches with his head several times, but he doesn't do it all the time.
10) Guard. He alternates between dodging punches and covering up and trying to block/absord damage. When he covers up, it looks pretty effective. However, he is hit-and-miss when it comes to keeping one of his hands up when attacking with the other.
The Not So Great But Improving
11) Jab. Not much use of the jab. He does have one, and in some bouts he actually throws it quite a bit, but it rarely seems to make an impact. He does sometimes set up an attack with a jab but on the flipside he seems ineffective at keeping his opponents at bay with it. As a matter of fact, he feints a jab and then throws a power right cross more often than he actually throws a jab.
12) Body Punching. It's not that he doesn't go to the body at all, because he does. It's just that, after seeing beautiful body punchers like Jose Carlos Ramirez or Kosei Tanaka, his bodywork seems lackadaisical. But he has visibly improved in this area.
13) Balance. He sometimes ends up off-balance or too squared up when in defensive shell mode or when he jumps too close to the opponent.
14) Chaos. Castano is very wild and chaotic. He lunges a lot. However, he seemed a lot more in control in his most recent bout (the one that went 8 rounds).
15) Punch Accuracy. Perhaps a side-effect of throwing so many punches at such speeds, but I wonder, if 80% of your punches miss, glance off or are blocked, aren't you the one that emerges more tired from the exchange? I will say that I have seen some improvements in this area.
16) Chin way out during offensive outbursts. When he pins his opponent on the ropes and starts flurrying for all he is worth, his chin is totally unprotected and stuck straight out. There was not one single bout I watched where he did not eat one power punch bang on the button for every four he landed. Not a bad ratio, but zero power punches eaten right on the chin would be a much, much better number.
18) Size. He has a somewhat stalky build. His reach seems to be a constant disadvantage. He cannot fight at distance unless he uses quick in-and-out attacks, relying on his feet maneuvering him within striking distance.
19) Not tying his opponents up. Because he has a tendency to jump in so very often and fire a flurry, he often finds himself chest-to-chest or shoulder-to-shoulder with his opponent, right after he has completed an offensive outburst. This is where I'd advise him to tie his opponent up. He has already won the exchange, prevent any return fire in close quarters. But what he does is lean in and start exchanging in close. He must have a better opinion of his inside fighting skills than I do. Watch some Wladimir Klitschko highlights and take notes!
The Downright Horrible
There is nothing that Brian Castano does that is a major problem.
Well first of all in his last bout he looked very different from all the previous ones. He was a lot more passive, more careful and seemed very reluctant to go for the kill. Even the Argentinian commentators were wondering what's going on. On the one hand he was probably trying to go more rounds, get more work in and work on his recklessness and his defenseless attacks, but on the other hand he really went away from many of his strengths. If his new trainers are trying to reform him, they'd better not mess with the parts of his gameplan that work. Or maybe it was a case of a bit of Las Vegas party life?
Anyway, I think watching these different fights really illustrates how differently prospects fare when you vary their level of opposition. Castano looks devastating against no-hopers, looks merely good against competent boxers and clearly had to dig extremely deep in his razor-thin decision over Derevyanchenko. This is a very good example of why it's a bad idea to raise young fighters on a steady diet of warm bodies and nothing more. Most prospects facing inferior opposition are used to imposing their style of fighting, their pace and having the opponent content with merely surviving or trying to counter. But when 2 fighters meet that are both used to fighting a fight their way, something's gotta give. Castano was unable to bully Derevyanchenko into a defensive stance like he has done with all his other opponents and had to go toe-to-toe hard with the bigger man. He emerged from the test successfully, but that bout should teach him that his gameplan does not work against an opponent with a very powerful, very quick and very precise jab. And you can't really prepare against that when fighting journeymen or club fighters.
However, aside from that he doesn't have many major flaws. I would actually venture to say that Castano is closer to contender status than several other prospects I've covered in these pieces and the 154-pound division is semi-barren so I hope Mayweather Promotions take care of him and get him in the ring with contenders or fringe contenders soon. I think he's ready and there's not much more he can learn at the level he is currently fighting. I would also like to see him at middleweight. I actually think his speed and work-rate would be a significant advantage at middleweight and I think he's shown he has the toughness and strength to handle bigger men. Plus, he is already shorter than most 154-pounders, so I don't think the difference will be that bad.