Brian Castano vs Erislandy Lara on March 2 on SHOWTIME
By Jim Dower: WBA ‘regular’ junior middleweight champion Brian Castano (15-0, 11 KOs) will reportedly be putting his unbeaten record on the line against former WBA Super World 154 pound champion Erislandy ‘The American Dream’ Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) on March 2 on SHOWTIME live at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Castano vs. Lara still isn’t official for March 2 on SHOWTIME, but it’s expected to be announced shortly.
This is an important fight for the 35-year-old Lara, who needs a victory over the Argentinian Castano to continue to be viewed as one of the top fighters in the 154 pound weight class.
Lara, 35, lost his last fight to IBF junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd (32-0, 16 KOs) by a 12 round split decision nine months ago on April 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fight was up for grabs going into the 12th round. Hurd came on strong, imposing his size on Lara, and knocking him down to pull out the victory. The judges scored the fight 114-113, 114-113 for Hurd, and 114-113 for Lara. Hurd isn’t interested in a rematch with Lara right now, but it’s a possibility down the line that the two of them could face each other again. Hurd might move up in weight to middleweight after he goes after the winner of the Tony Harrison vs. Jermell Charlo rematch. In that case, Lara might have to chase Hurd up to middleweight if he wants the rematch with him.
Castano, 29, quietly was elevated to the World Boxing Association ‘regular’ junior middleweight status by the WBA in October 2017 shortly after he won the interim WBA 154 lb title in his previous fight in beating Michel Soro (33-2-1, 22 KOs) by a 12 round split decision on July 1, 2017.
Lara would have to be seen as the favorite to beat Castano right now. Unless the Cuban Lara has lost something from his game as a result of his hard fight with Hurd, he should have more than enough talent and boxing skills to defeat Castano. It still won’t be easy for the southpaw Lara, who will be turning 36-years-old next April. Castano is young, and he’s a strong fighter with good punching power. However, the 6’1″ Castano hasn’t shown the same kind of talent that Lara possesses, and he’s not a huge fighter for the junior middleweight division like the 6’1″ Hurd. Although Castano is the size height as Hurd, he’s not as heavy or as powerful as him. Lara won’t struggle with Castano’s size like he did with Hurd.
Castano last fought in March of 2018, beating Cedric Vitu (47-3, 19 KOs) by a twelfth round knockout in France. It was a good win for Castano, but it was against a fighter with a record that is arguably inflated with a lot of weak opposition.
If Lara can capture the WBA secondary 154 pound, he’ll once again be a world champion, and he can return to making title defenses against the regular contenders. Up until Lara’s fight with Hurd , he’d been pretty quiet in terms of getting attention from the boxing world. It didn’t matter that Lara was the WBA Super World junior middleweight champion, he hadn’t been facing the type of opposition to get attention from the boxing world since his loss to Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2014. If Lara beats Castano to pick up the WBA ‘regular’ 154 lb title, he can go back to making the same type of title defenses he was making before, and possibly hold onto the title for three to four years.
In his stint as the WBA junior middleweight champion from 2014 to 2018, Lara successfully defended the belt six times, beating Vanes Martirosyan, Yuri Foreman, Terrell Gausha, Ishe Smith, Delvin Rodriguez and Jan Zaveck. It wasn’t until Lara stepped up against Hurd in a unification that he lost by a close decision. With Lara’s style of fighting, he might need to move up to middleweight to get the bigger fights. He’s a pure boxer, who doesn’t possess the fan friendly style of fighting that he needs to be a popular fighter.
If Lara moves up to middleweight, he could win over boxing fans if he proves he can beat guys like Jermall Charlo, Rob Brant, Daniel Jacobs or Demetrius Andrade. Saul Canelo Alvarez likely will never give Lara a rematch after the problems he had in beating him in 2014. Likewise, Gennady Golovkin will probably not be interested in fighting Lara as well due to his fighting style, and his lack of popularity. Lara would show a lot of courage in moving up to middleweight, but his chances of success would be lower than if he stayed at 154 and won one of the titles in that weight class.
You can’t count out Castano in this fight with Lara. Castano has the youth and power to beat Lara. He’s going to need to follow the blueprint that Jarrett Hurd created in how to beat Lara. The only way to beat Lara is to pressure him nonstop like Hurd and Canelo did. If Castano tries to box Lara for 12 rounds, he’s likely going to lose. Castano is facing Lara at the perfect time in his career with him coming off of a grueling 12 round fight with Hurd. If there’s some deterioration in Lara’s game from that fight, and it’s hard not to believe that there will be, then Castano will be in the perfect position to take advantage of it on March 2. Castano has the power and fighting style to grind a depleted Lara down, and possibly drop him once or twice. Lara will likely be trying to avoid going to war with Castano as much as possible, but it’s going to be hard for him to do that because the Argentinian likes to slug it out.
Lara is an excellent mover, but he’s not someone that is going to be able to elude a pressure fighter like Castano if he’s 100 percent committed to tracking him down, and getting his two pounds of flesh in the fight. The only way Lara is going to beat Castano is by getting in the trenches and beating him in a war. This isn’t the type of opponent that Lara can beat by just boxing him from the outside like he did against Austin Trout, Yuri Foreman, Delvin Rodriguez and Jan Zaveck. Castano is going to put pressure on Lara, and look to hit him with body shots, which he doesn’t like. Alfredo Angulo, Canelo and Hurd all gave Lara problems with their body punching. The rest of the opponents that Lara has fought have been head hunters, and he’s done well against those guys. The fighters that Lara struggles against are ones that target his midsection. He’s not good at moving out of the way of punches to the body as he is with head shots.