Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano set out to become the first-ever undisputed male champion at 154 lbs in the four-belt era on Saturday night.
Neither man did it, as the judges saw a split draw — with one obscenely bad score card — and the matter was left unsettled.
Despite the unsatisfying outcome, Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KO) and Castano (17-0-2, 12 KO) put on a very satisfying fight, once again proving that if you actually just put two high-level fighters in a high-level fight, you tend to get high-level results, as bewildering a concept as this usually seems to many risk-averse promoters.
This was not a Fight of the Year-level slugfest, and it wasn’t the most truly masterful game of sweet science chess, either. I’m not going to overstate what the fight was, which boxing people love to do, by screaming about it being an instant classic.
What it was, however, was consistently fantastic, with an energetic San Antonio crowd boosting how good the fighters were. Charlo and Castano are two highly capable, highly skilled ring veterans at this point, both of them 31 years old and fighting as well as they’re going to fight in their careers.
They are also both flawed. Castano’s march-forward style can sometimes be a bit one-dimensional, and it saw him rocked repeatedly by Charlo, who definitely hurt his opponent more than the other way around. And Charlo can sometimes be too passive, too confident in the idea that his one-punch power will eventually just end things. We’ve seen it in a bunch of his fights now; often, it has worked out, so you kinda get why he’s so confident in it.
I didn’t have a problem with the outcome being a draw, and I don’t think many observers did. The problem anyone had came from Nelson Vazquez’s absurd 117-111 Charlo card. The overall outcome isn’t really what we think of when we say “controversial,” it’s fair enough.
And that’s one of the reasons these two have to rematch, and do it next.
Mandatory challengers could be a concern, but don’t have to be. Notably, Erickson Lubin does have a shot at the WBC belt and Charlo coming to him. But Lubin, like Charlo and Castano, is a PBC guy. If told to step back just a bit more and wait, that’s what likely will happen. And the WBC are extremely unlikely to actually make an official Charlo-Lubin order — unless that’s what PBC actually want to do next.
Charlo didn’t fully confirm nor deny his interest in a rematch, though he did say, “I want to be undisputed,” and called it his “destiny.” That indicates that he will want to run it back once he’s had time to think on the fight and what he should do next. Castano very much said he wants to rematch Charlo, and of course both felt they won.
But they’ll have time to think, probably. And the outcome should be the same for both men: There is no better or bigger fight for either of them coming next at 154 lbs, and that’s not just because of the belts on the line. This is a division, largely controlled by PBC, that has been competitive and pretty exciting for a few years now.
But many of the names have started to fall by the wayside. Lubin has fought his way back into contention, but Jeison Rosario, Julian Williams, and Jarrett Hurd are all out of that mix for the moment, or should be for the purposes of getting Charlo-Castano 2 done. Erislandy Lara has moved up to 160. Tim Tszyu, an intriguing name and talent, is in Australia and if we start being real honest about Tszyu, he hasn’t fought anyone near top level, and he hasn’t exactly been calling either of these guys out just yet, either. Tszyu is being realistic about his build.
I’m not always the biggest advocate for immediate rematches, but there is nothing else these two should even be considering. They went for a historic idea once, neither got the result they wanted, and to then look elsewhere instead of going, “Yeah, I fought for the undisputed title, didn’t work out, still have a belt/belts, oh well, moving on,” would come off extremely weak.
Hopefully, we see “round 13” coming by the end of 2021.