Two of boxing's elite lay it all on the line for the undisputed 154-pound crown in a thrilling back-and-forth battle Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
The outcome wasn’t preferred but what led to it is something everyone would want to see again.
Jermell Charlo landed a number of beautiful shots on Brian Castaño. The Argentinean wouldn’t go away. In fact, Castaño kept coming forward. At stake for both fighters was history—becoming the first undisputed 154-pound champion in the four-belt era.
On Saturday night, on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing from the AT&T Center in San Antonio in a Premier Boxing Champions event, neither Charlo, the IBF, WBA and WBC super welterweight world champion, nor Castaño, the WBO 154-pound king, came away satisfied with a split-decision draw.
But the fans did.
Judge Steve Weisfeld had 114-113 for Castaño, while Nelson Vazquez had it 117-111 for Charlo and Tim Cheatham scored it 114-114 in a great back-and-forth fight.
The last undisputed super welterweight world champion was Hall of Famer Winky Wright, who held that distinction after upsetting another Hall of Famer, Shane Mosley, in 2004.
“The draw isn’t what I wanted to hear,” Charlo said. “If anything, I won this fight. I hurt him way more than he did me. Brian Castaño is a tough warrior. He’ll give a lot of people problems, but like I said my power is something serious in this weight division.
“My coach (Derrick James) told me I needed the knockout in the ninth round and I just knew he knew what he was talking about. I trust my coach. This come with boxing – wins, losses and draws.
“He threw a hell of a lot of punches. My skills and my ability and my power - I felt like I won this fight and I deserve to be going home undisputed. I am glad to have fought for undisputed. It’s different. I still hold my titles. I can’t wait to get home to my babies, take a break from boxing and then get back to the drawing board and see what’s next.
“I want to be undisputed. That’s what I want. That’s my destiny.”
Castaño (17-0-2, 12 KOs) did well in the first round, pushing Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KOs) back in the corner. But it also seemed like Charlo was waiting and reading Castaño. It didn’t take long for Charlo to figure Castaño out. By the second, he did. With 1:49 left in the round, Charlo nailed with a counter left hook and Castaño was reeling backward and in trouble.
“I won the fight,” Castaño said. “There were some rounds where he hit me hard. I was hurt in the 10th round and I had to recoup. Same with the beginning of the 11th round. But I did enough to win this fight. I hope I get the rematch. He is a great fighter. I need the rematch.”
However, in the third, it was Castaño who sent Charlo’s eyes rolling back, buckling his knees with a left hook to the jaw with :08 left. It was a fusillade that was enough to win the round for Castaño.
In the fourth, Castaño’s pressure ruled the round. He had Charlo pinned against the ropes, as Charlo got ready to go out for the fifth, James told him, “You’re giving rounds away, J.”
By the sixth, Castaño again had Charlo against the ropes and was landing quality shots. Charlo worked well off the ropes in the seventh, and in eighth, Charlo brought the fight to the center of the ring. He worked his jab and landed a right in the final 10 seconds of the round.
Charlo went back to fighting off the ropes in the ninth, and immediately on his return to the corner, James quickly reminded him, “You’re not listening, you’re not listening, you cannot back up. You’re giving him courage.”
It began reaching a critical stage for Charlo.
That urgency manifested in the 10th. With 1:40 left, Charlo came charging forward with a left hand followed by a right that had Castaño retreating. Charlo slammed Castaño with blunt lefts to the body. Castaño bore the brunt of Charlo’s attack. The round easily went to Charlo.
In the 11th, Castaño went back to pressing Charlo who boxed from the outside.
Before he walked out for the 12th, James told Charlo he had “knock him out, you gotta knock him out.”
Charlo nailed Castaño with the jab and a counter right, but Castaño nailed Charlo with a left hook on the chin with 1:22 left in the round. Charlo closed with a right square on Castaño’s face, though when the last bell sounded, it was debatable who won.
The fight was close enough—and certainly good enough—to hit the reset button and play again.
Rolando Romero rolls over Anthony Yigit in seven
Southpaw Anthony Yigit stepped in on very short notice after a knee injury sidelined Austin Dulay for Rolando “Rolly” Romero’s WBA lightweight interim title defense. Yigit missed weight, coming in over 140 but it didn’t stop Romero from going ahead with the fight—and battering him.
Romero used clubbing right hands to dispense Yigit at 1:54 of the seventh.
“I fought a tough kid above my weight class,” Romero said. “I fought a 140-pounder and I stopped him. Simple as that. In the seventh round, I knew it was over. I swear I thought it was over after that first knockdown but I didn’t have time in that round to jump on him.
“I want Gervonta Davis at 140. I want him at 140. I mean, he only has 16 fights. I have 14 now. I am ready for him. Time to stop him. Time to knock him out. I know what he can do but I know what I can do. I am a lot stronger. Let’s see if we can make it happen.”
Romero’s victory may be more noted for how sloppy things got, forcing referee Rafael Ramos to warn both fighters he wanted “a clean fight” when the two got tangled up in the last seconds of the second. With :38 left in the third, Yigit motioned to Romero about his lefty elbow. A replay later showed why, when Romero spun away from Yigit, his left elbow caught the left side of Yigit’s face, opening a small cut.
With :14 left in the fifth, Ramos deducted a point from Romero for hitting on the break. With :01 left in the fifth, Romero (14-0, 12 KOs) connected with a right on the top of Yigit’s head, sending him down for the second time in his career. From there, it seemed a matter of time before Romero would end the fight.
Two rounds later, he did.
With 1:56 left in the seventh, Yigit (24-2-1, 8 KOs) went down for the second time in the fight and third time in his career when Romero connected on a counter right to Yigit’s chin. A left hook to the chin knocked Yigit down the third time of the fight. Ramos saw enough and quickly waved it over at 1:54.
Amilcar Vidal remains unbeaten despite a scare from Immanuwel Aleem
Amilcar Vidal (13-0, 11 KOs) survived a major scare by winning a 10-round majority decision over Immanuwel Aleem (18-3-2, 11 KOs). Judges Ruben Carrion and Glen Crocker each scored the fight 97-93 for Vidal, overriding Anthony De Los Santos’ 95-95 score.
By the fifth round, Aleem, despite almost a two-year layoff, had already extended Vidal longer than he had been in a few years. The shorter, 27-year-old Aleem was pressing the action early, forcing the 25-year-old, 6-foot Vidal against the ropes on occasion.
Vidal, who had fought a combined total of four rounds in his last three fights, applied solid body work in the early stages. When Aleem leaned in, Vidal made him pay with hammering blows to Aleem’s sides. But Vidal didn’t use his 5½-inch reach advantage, allowing Aleem, working under esteemed trainer Ronnie Shields, to work inside. Aleem used effective right uppercuts set up wonderfully by a consistent jab.
“I was not surprised by his strategy of working inside,” Vidal said. “We worked on that in camp. I wanted to work him in and then I would finally show him my power in the end. It was a great fight against a really tough opponent, but the fruits of my labor alongside my brother during training camp paid off and I never lost my cool.
“We felt sure of ourselves as a team and I knew (Aleem) would feel me as soon as I found my ideal distance and reach. I believe I was a fair winner, but I am not here to argue about the score. I may have lost my way in a couple of rounds, but I regained control of the fight and I have as much as I took.
“Like I told you before the press conference, it’s about going step by step. We took a major one tonight, and now my promoter will let me know what’s next. I’ll be ready. We are nice and comfortable at 160 pounds. Uruguay can rest easy knowing Amilcar Vidal is here to stay.”
The times Vidal appeared to have Aleem right where he wanted, he spun out of Vidal’s punching zone. With 2:23 left in the eighth, Aleem tagged Vidal with a lunging left hook that send him reeling back into the ropes.
In the last minute of the ninth, the two stood and pounded each other. It was Vidal, however, who seemed to get the better of the exchange. The pair went at each other again the 10th, with neither backing up.
The duo had the crowd standing and cheering—deservedly so—at the end.
Vidal landed 73 body shots, with a 194-157 edge in power shots. The pair combined to throw 1,218 total punches and land 351 power punches, with both landing over 40%.
For a closer look at Charlo vs Castano, check out our fight night page.