We had an eventful weekend in boxing for the first time in a bit, with big upsets, new titlists crowned, belts going vacant, and more. Here’s a look at what could be next for some of the biggest names we saw in action.
Mauricio Lara and Josh Warrington
With due respect to Brian Castano, pictured up top winning the WBO junior middleweight title from Patrick Teixeira, the story of the weekend is definitely Mauricio Lara’s huge upset win over Josh Warrington in London.
It is hard not to feel that Warrington and Matchroom made a massive error by having Warrington vacate the IBF featherweight title, but that’s in the past. They scheduled Mauricio Lara when Warrington couldn’t get what he wanted, because Warrington (30-1, 7 KO) needed to get back in the ring, period.
Lara (22-2, 15 KO) is sincerely heavy-handed, and that’ll be what takes him however far the 22-year-old Mexican fighter is going to go. Warrington felt the power even winning the early rounds, it was clear, and much has been made of not having a live crowd, as Warrington always has passionate fans in Leeds.
But he’s not the first to fight without fans in the last year, obviously, and cheers weren’t going to tighten his defense. Lara had slow hands, but he was connecting consistently, particularly with his left hook, and the fight really should have been stopped in the fourth.
Promoter Eddie Hearn quickly noted post-fight that Warrington has a rematch clause if he wants to take it. That’s not a guarantee he will, but it does seem the most likely option on the surface, and that also ties Lara up from doing something like chasing a belt while his name is hot. If Warrington opts not to go into a rematch with Lara, he could look to rebound against someone else, though his taste for “tune-up fights” might be a little sour at the moment. Lara not being roped into a rematch with Warrington could be huge for him, could get him into a title fight. He’s dangerous, but he’s the kind of fighter a lot of top guys would probably happily fight while his name has maximum value.
Castano dominated Patrick Teixeira to win the WBO junior middleweight title, which was the outcome pretty much everyone expected other than the various people that DAZN commentator Todd Grisham spoke to, I guess. Teixeira (31-2, 22 KO) was one of the weakest titlists in the sport on paper, with respect to the fact he is an extremely tough, hard-working fighter. Castano was already proven as a serious contender. He’s just the better fighter, and he proved it over 12 rounds.
Castano (17-0-1, 12 KO) now holds the only title that Jermell Charlo does not have. PBC and/or FOX and the WBO have some goofy thing going on between them, but as Castano is a PBC fighter who was on loan, to put it in layman’s terms, for the Golden Boy show, the PBC on FOX Instagram account has already floated the Charlo-Castano idea:
This is very much THE fight to make for Castano and Charlo both. Charlo has shown no indication that he’s looking to move up to 160, and going truly undisputed at 154 seems to appeal to him. This is an easy fight to make, in theory. It’s an enormous opportunity for Castano, by far the biggest fight he’s gonna get, and for Charlo it’s a chance to achieve something he can put on his resume. They’re the top guys at 154 right now.
If it doesn’t happen, the most recent WBO rankings had Tim Tszyu (set to fight Dennis Hogan on Mar. 31), Liam Smith, Jarrett Hurd, Bakhram Murtazaliev, Magomed Kurbanov, Jack Culcay, Takeshi Inoue, Sergio Garcia, and Anthony Fowler in the top 10 behind Castano. Teixeira figures to hold a top 10 ranking, so it’ll be that same mix of guys, most likely. Hurd might be the easiest fight to make there, but no clue of the interest on the Hurd side.
Joseph Diaz Jr and Shavkat Rakhimov
JoJo Diaz did not have a good weekend, really, and going to a draw against Rakhimov is kind of the least of it. Diaz missed weight badly on Friday, thus giving up his IBF junior lightweight title before even getting in the ring. Rakhimov still had a chance to win it, but the draw leaves the belt vacant.
Personally, I thought Diaz won the fight, and so did BLH’s Wil Esco, both of us scoring it 116-112 for him. I thought he landed the better shots, was more accurate, just was the better fighter. But the draw result is what it is.
Diaz could move up to 135, or he might stay put at 130. Sometimes fighters just miss weight. Though Rakhimov had the same situation Diaz did and made weight, JoJo made note of the fact that there was no gym, sauna, etc. on site for the fighters to use, and for a lot of guys, they make weight those last few days burning off what they have remaining.
It’s not a unique complaint from Diaz, many fighters have noted how much different it is over the last eight months since boxing got going again. David Benavidez warned everyone last August, when he missed weight for his fight, which saw him stripped of the WBC super middleweight belt.
“I didn’t think this all the way through. Coming in I thought I would have access to more, but I didn’t,” Benavidez said then. “Maybe this is a message to all the other fighters who have a little bit of trouble with their weight. It’s going to be hard to make the weight if you already have trouble. If you need a couple extra things like the gym or the sauna, you better come into the bubble already on weight.”
Benavidez is staying at 168. If Diaz stays at 130, it would be kind of weak for the IBF to grant him a fight for the now-vacant belt again right away, but it’s not impossible. Otherwise, we could see Rakhimov fight someone for the belt. He was the No. 1 contender with the IBF, but there is no No. 2-ranked contender right now. Kenichi Ogawa, Martin J. Ward, Azinga Fuzile, Zelfa Barrett, and Tevin Farmer could be names in the mix for that. Farmer is the former titlist, and was contractually owed a rematch with Diaz, but it didn’t happen last year for many reasons. Rakhimov-Farmer might be an odd order from the sanctioning body, but it could also be argued that it actually makes the most sense.
A Diaz-Rakhimov rematch might be something to think about, but if Diaz can’t get the title fight again right away, I don’t know why Rakhimov would do that. Rakhimov wants the belt, and is still in position to fight for it. If that’s Ogawa or Ward or a Fuzile rematch or Farmer or whatever, that’s probably his priority.
Diaz, meanwhile, could revisit Farmer as a grudge match, but Tevin probably only does that if he can’t get an IBF title fight, too. Or he could just move on at 130 and fight someone else. There are certainly other fighters out there.
Commey’s sixth round wipeout of Jackson Marinez kept him in the lightweight mix, but as mentioned last night, he’s still in sort of an awkward position. He’s a real contender, a veteran former titleholder, has big power, definitely can fight. Commey’s a good opponent for a lot of guys, but where does he go right now?
Maybe sideways, honestly. Teofimo Lopez, who knocked Commey out in 2019, has three of the four belts, and Devin Haney has the other, however you recognize it. Tank Davis has a secondary WBA belt. But Lopez, Haney, Davis, Ryan Garcia — these aren’t guys it seems likely Commey (30-3, 27 KO) will get next, as much as I’d personally like to see Haney-Commey as a legit good step up for Haney, or Garcia-Commey, too, for that matter.
Commey’s best option might be finding an eliminator or something of that nature. But he’s a likable, fearless fighter who brings good action. Commey will find someone to fight.
Top Rank heavyweight Anderson (8-0, 8 KO) rightly has people excited, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself here. The Toledo fighter is 21 years old, still learning, still in his infant stages as a pro fighter.
He knocked out Kingsley Ibeh, and he got some rounds in, both good things for Anderson. But it’s going to be baby steps a bit longer, most likely. Possibly some journeymen by the end of 2021, maybe solid fringe contenders by later in 2022. It’s a career, and Anderson has a lot of time. They’re not going to be stupid with this kid, and they shouldn’t be. If they get him developed properly, we’re talking about a long-term potential superstar.