Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castano – preview & prediction
By Dan Ambrose: Junior middleweight champions Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano will be fighting tonight in a 154-lb undisputed championship live on SHOWTIME Boxing at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Jermell, 31, comes into this fight with WBO 154lb champion Castano tonight as their IBF, WBA & WBC champ. He needs the WBO belt to make him the undisputed champion to validate his long 14-year professional career.
Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) is the guy that is viewed as the likely winner, but you can’t count on WBO 154lb champion Castano (17-0-1, 12 KOs) because he’s far better than any of the fighters Jermell has been facing during his career.
If you take out the possibility of the judges tipping the fight to Jermell based on him being the A-side fighter, the network house guy on SHOWTIMe, and fighting at home in Texas, this is a 50-50 pick ’em match.
Hopefully, we don’t see controversial scoring by the judges with them giving it to the A-side fighter Jermell, as it would tarnish him.
Much of the shine on Charlo’s career was already taken away with his defeat against fringe contender Tony Harrison in 2018, but many boxing fans have since forgotten about that loss.
Charlo has won his last three fights and avenged his defeat to Harrison by stopping him in the 11th round in 2019.
Jermell banking on his power
“This is the most important fight of my life. Castano is a hell of a fighter who brings a lot of pressure, but I know my power,” said Jermell Charlo to The Athletic. “Every punch is painful.”
“We see people chase an undefeated record, but an undefeated record doesn’t really make you great,” Charlo continued. “I suffered a controversial defeat, but that helped define who I am now and provide a difference between my brother and I.”
The controversial loss that Jermell mentions came at the hands of Tony Harrison in December 2019, and it wasn’t questionable in the eyes of fans.
They saw Harrison outbox Jermell by fighting smartly and taking advantage of his low work rate and habit of swinging for the fences.
Charlo didn’t accept the loss and came across as bitter, a poor sport, and a fighter that was incapable of acknowledging that he didn’t fight well enough.
Even in the rematch with Harrison in December 2019, Jermell was getting outboxed on the outside by Tony and outslugged on the inside.
Although Jermell did avenge his loss with an eleventh round knockout of Harrison, he didn’t show any improvements over the first fight in 2018.
At the time of the stoppage, Jermell was ahead 96-93, 96-93 on two judges’ scorecards and training 95-94 on the other judges’ card. This writer had Harrison ahead by a couple of rounds.
Charlo wants to be the undisputed champion
“He said he wanted to be an undisputed champ when he started training, so basically, this is a dream come true,” said Derrick James to Fighthub about Jermell Charlo.
“He’s looking good in the workouts. I’m really looking forward to this. It’s not like any other fight because he’s never been in a position like this before.
The hunger is there, the desire is there,” said James about Jermell really wanting to capture the fourth belt. “This is something to be undisputed.
It’s never happened, so he’s fighting for history. I never like to talk about knockouts. They come; they happen.
“Going in there looking for a knockout is never generally the best way to go. For him to get to this point in his career, he had to grow into this,” Derrick said in talking Jermell going for a knockout.
If Charlo does accomplish his goal of becoming undisputed at 154 tonight, it’s a great thing for him, but it’s not the end. Many fighters view Charlo as beatable, and he could be exposed by some of them.
At 154, Tim Tszyu is breathing down Jermell’s neck with his #1 WBO ranking. Although Jermell says he doesn’t want to fight Tszyu, he might not have any choice in the matter. If Charlo chooses not to vacate his WBO title, he’ll have to fight Tszyu.
Other fighters Jermell will need to deal with soon:
- Errol Spence Jr
- Terence Crawford
- Israil Madrimov
- Erickson Lubin
- Danny Garcia
- Sebastian Fundora
Can Jermell beat all those fighters? Possibly, but there’s a good chance that he loses to some of them because those guys are better than the fighters Jermell has been padding his record with in the last six years.
To be sure, Charlo knocked out Erickson Lubin in the first round in 2017, but that was a long time ago when ‘The Hammer’ was only 21-years-old.
He’s now 25, and he’s improved greatly in the last four years. Charlo will have his hands full if he doesn’t vacate his WBC title to avoid Lubin if he successfully defeats Castano.
Jermell’s knockout ability has improved
“This is our tenth fight together, and he has eight knockouts,” said James of Jermell.
“I don’t look for them, but the punches we throw get them [knockouts]. I want the W, And I don’t care about the knockout.
“What people want may not come to fruition. You should never go into a fight looking for a knockout because it’s too hard to get them.
“I think you let them flow. Every time you get a knockout, you let them happen.
“Never when he came out and tried to kill a guy; it’s about going with the flow. That guy is on high alert, first of all.
“You need to get him off high alert, get him comfortable, get him relaxed, and then get the knockout if that be the case.
“I don’t look what he did bad. I look what he did great,” said James about Castano.
“If you go looking for things he fell short at, he may have mastered those things now.
“So you got to go in there looking for what he did great. That’s the best way to look at it. The way to prepare for a fight is for the better man, not for the worst guy,” said James.
After Jermell’s controversial win over Vanes Martirosyan in 2015, his trainer James changed his fighting style by turning him into a slugger.
Since that fight, the twin Charlo has knocked out seven of the nine fighters he’s fought. However, Jermell hasn’t fought top-notch guys, though.
That’s the downside. Yeah, Charlo has been knocking guys out, but he hasn’t been fighting high-caliber fighters during the six years of his career.
You can argue that Erickson Lubin may have been the best, but he was only 21 when Charlo fought him in 20017, and he wasn’t nearly the fighter he is today.
Charlo’s knockouts since 2015:
- Jeison Rosario
- Tony Harrison
- Jorge Cota
- Charles Hatley
- Ericson Lubin
- Joachim Alcine
- John Jackson
Those are fighters that many of the top welterweights from a division below the 154-lb weight class would likely have no problems beating. You could take a young fighter from the 147-lb division like Jaron Ennis or Vergil Ortiz Jr and have them move up to 154, and they would likely KO every one of those guys that Jermell has stopped since 2015.
What does that mean? It means that the opposition that Jermell has been fighting has been nothing special and that you can’t say he’s unbeatable at this point in his career.
It may seem like Charlo is unstoppable, given that he’s been mowing down his opponents one after another, but he’s been fighting lesser fighters.
Derrick James impressed with Castano
“He picks shots; he throws punches to get other punches,” said Derrick about what he needs to worry about with Brian Castano.
“He’s very intelligent. It looks like he’s just throwing punches. When he’s at afar, he’s picking his shots.
“When he’s closer, it’s a little bit different, but when he’s coming towards you, he’s picking his shots to get other shots.
“He throws shots to get you to do things to throw another shot. I look at what he does great, never what he does bad.
“Not the wide shots or none of that stuff. Those are things that everybody can see and everybody is going off of. I go off of how great he is,” said Derrick.
It would be a mistake on Derrick James’ part not to admit the different skills that Castano brings to the table for this fight. If James were assuming that Castano would be a piece of cake for Jermell like Jeison Rosario, Jorge Cota, or Erickson Lubin, he could be in a brutal shock tonight.
Castano is more polished than those flawed fighters, and he’s capable of winning this fight.
Of course, there’s not much Castano can do if the judging is slanted in Charlo’s direction due to him being the A-side and house fighter, but he can get the better of Jermell and make the judges look bad if they give it to the wrong guy.
Hopefully, for James’ sake, he came up with a good plan for Charlo because he’s too dependant on his power to win fights. Earlier in Jermell’s career, before he met up with Derrick, he was more of a boxer, but his style has changed.
Jermell now fights more like his twin brother Jermall, but he’s not as busy as him. He doesn’t have the engine to throw as many shots as Jermall, which him in a position where he can get outboxed and lose rounds.
We saw that happen in Jermell’s two flights with Harrison. He wasn’t throwing enough punches, and Harrison was able to pile up the rounds.
Jermell will be ready to fight inside
“Either position may play a better role for us because we prepare for the inside fight as well,” said James in talking about Jermell being ready for Castano in close or on the outside.
“What else can he do? He has to come to you. He can’t fight you from outside.
“He’s a counter puncher. He’s very smart. I look at him as a very smart intellectual fighter because I saw him pick his shots to try and set up other shots.
“So I like that. I like the match-up because it’s going to bring the best out of Jermell because he may see some things.
“‘Oh, you did that. I got to.’ He’s got to one-up the whole fight. It’s not about the counter punching. It’s about counter punch, counterpunch,” said James about his plan for Jermell to beat Castano.
“And it’s doubtful that Derrick will have improved Jermell’s inside game enough in this fight for him to battle Castano in close.
You don’t transform a fighter into an inside slugger in one camp. That’s wishful thinking on Derrick’s part to assume that he’ll have taught Charlo enough to hold his own against Castano on the inside, as he’s facing a guy whose bread & butter is fighting in close.
The 5’7 1/2″ Castano has been fighting on the inside since his amateur days out of necessity due to his limited height, so he’s not someone that is going to have trouble against a lanky 5’11” fighter trying to beat him at his own game.
Castano will be too much for Charlo and batter him to pieces on the inside to win a 12 round unanimous decision. Jermell says he will use his height and reach to keep the fight at a distance, but that’s unrealistic.
Castano is too good of an inside fighter to be bottled up by a fighter with slow feet like Jermell, and he should have it easy getting in close to dominate the slugger.
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