Lara and Castano Battle to a Split Draw

Brian Castano retained his WBA Super Welterweight World title following a twelve-round war with former world champion Erislandy Lara that ended in a draw.

Brooklyn, N.Y. — Hitting Erislandy Lara was once akin to snatching a feather in a wind tunnel. The southpaw Cuban expatriate was tough to land on even when standing right in front of his opponent. 

That version of Erislandy Lara may now be a memory, but he is still a top tier fighter. So is young Argentinian Brian Carlos Castano, as 7,329 fans at Barclays Center discovered on Saturday night.

Castano (15-0-1, 11 KOs) retained the WBA “regular” super welterweight title with a split-draw against Lara (25-3-3, 14 KOs) on Showtime Championship Boxing.

Judge Kevin Morgan ruled for Castano, 115-113, John McKaie had it 115-113 for Lara, and Julie Lederman had it 114-114.

Unsurprisingly, both fighters thought they won.

“It was a great fight, but I saw myself winning eight rounds tonight,” said Lara, fighting for the first time in 11 months—since losing to WBA and IBF 154-pound world champion Jarrett Hurd. “My punches were much more effective. He did have pressure, but I was dominating the pressure.

“Again, I demonstrated I’m not old. I’m still fine-tuned. If we have to fight him again, I’ll fight him. Hurd or Castano. Anybody, I’ll have the rematch with both.”

The pair combined to throw 1,688 punches in what was a non-stop back and forth duel. Castano kept a fast pace throughout, attempting to wear Lara down with volume, particularly to the body. But Lara was up to the task, leading with the jab and countering effectively. After 12 rounds, the draw verdict seemed fair. 

“It was a good fight,” Castano said. “A clash of styles. I know I won the fight. I feel I was robbed.  He’s an elusive boxer. I knew that, I prepared for that. I think it was a good fight but I won.”

 “I would give him the rematch if he wants. I can also go ahead and fight any other champion that wants to fight me. I’m ready for whoever they put in front of me. Hurd or anyone else.”

Luis Ortiz dominates in win over Christian Hammer

One fighter no one should want to anger is heavyweight Luis Ortiz. But Romanian Christian Hammer tried his annoying best. Hammer’s histrionics included a constant smirk, mixed in with head shaking and some nods here and there.

It didn’t matter to Ortiz, who pressed the action in a one-sided affair.

Ortiz’s 10-round unanimous decision over Hammer (24-6, 14 KOs) was an easy score. Joseph Pasquale scored it a shutout, 100-90, while judges John Basile and Waleska Roldan each had it 99-91 for “King Kong.”

Ortiz, however, wanted a little more than just winning. The massive southpaw heavyweight wanted to make a statement to the rest of the heavyweight division and felt he failed in doing so.

“The fight wasn’t what I was expecting,” admitted Ortiz. “It was a hard fight and my corner really had to work with me. It was a hard fight. After I got the rhythm, I heated up a little bit.

“Every heavyweight out there should know that I still have it at 40. Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, I’m ready. I fought a fight that I hadn’t for years, which is box and work. So, I’m not disappointed I didn’t knock him out. I showed some of my boxing skills tonight." 

Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs) showed good movement and power. He also used his jab exceptionally well, and got rounds in, though he didn’t want to go all 10.

Hammer won the eighth on some scorecards, but it was mostly a virtuoso performance by Ortiz.

Eduardo Ramirez shocks Bryan De Gracia

Eduardo Ramirez’s ninth-round TKO over Bryan De Gracia seemed to come out of nowhere. What started as a mundane affair quickly gathered momentum in the fifth round. That’s when De Gracia and Ramirez swung wildly at each other in a corner, with De Gracia getting the better of the exchanges. 

In the sixth, De Gracia (24-2-1, 20 KOs) momentarily stunned Mexico’s Ramirez with a right to the chin. Southpaw Ramirez retreated, trying to catch the approaching De Gracia (22-1-3, 9 KOs) with uppercuts. 

De Gracia, meanwhile, waded forward and kept trying to shoot the straight right, the same right that had landed in the sixth. After the seventh, however, referee Benjy Esteves Jr. began taking a closer look at Ramirez between rounds.

In the eighth, Ramirez appeared more content to wrestle than to punch. De Gracia, however, could not time Ramirez as he lunged forward. Though the eighth did feature one big connect, when De Gracia bounced a right off the top of Ramirez’s head.

What changed everything was when Ramirez finally landed a beautiful right uppercut in the ninth, putting De Gracia in serious trouble. De Gracia was stumbling and out on his feet. Ramirez bore in and tore up the wounded De Gracia. Ramirez continued to unload until Esteves jumped in at 2:10.

At the time of the stoppage, judges Ron McNair and Robin Taylor both had De Gracia ahead, 77-75, while Steve Weisfeld had it 76-76.

“I’d like to dedicate this fight to my deceased grandfather,” said Ramirez, who was given just over a week’s notice for the fight. “This win is in memory of him. I definitely knew it was close but my corner kept telling me to keep going and going, and that’s when I caught him.

“I didn’t just come here to fight.  I came here to do something and I did it.”

Bantamweight southpaw Antonio Russell (13-0, 11 KOs) found himself in a scrap in an eight-rounder against tough Mexican Jose Maria Cardenas (16-4, 13 KOs). The times Russell seemingly had Cardenas backed to the ropes and in trouble, Cardenas battled back. 

The decisive moment came when the ringside doctor stepped up on the ring apron and waved it over at :22 of the sixth round, as Russell was pounding away at the defenseless Cardenas.

In a scheduled 10-round cruiserweight bout, Edwin Rodriguez (31-2, 20 KOs) outlasted Mitch Williams (16-7-3, 11 KOs) by unanimous decision.

On the undercard, middleweight Aaron Anderson (4-0, 3 KOs) remained undefeated with a four-round unanimous decision over Chukka Willis (4-10, 2 KOs). Welterweight Tyrek Irby (7-0, 2 KOs) won by six-round decision over Dennis Okoth (2-2-1, 1 KO). Welterweight Richardson Hitchins (8-0, 4 KOs) stopped David Morales (13-10, 13 KOs) after Morales’ corner waved it over after the third round of a scheduled eight-rounder. Super featherweight Leduan Barthelemy (14-0-1, 7 KOs) won a unanimous eight-rounder over Miguel Angel Aispuro (11-7-2, 7 KOs).

For a closer look at Lara vs Castano, check out our fight night page. 

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