Justin DeLoach had little trouble taking out an undefeated opponent in his last fight. Now he’s looking to hang the first “L” on a second consecutive 154-pound foe.
Following Saturday’s 147-pound title showdown between champion Keith Thurman and challenger Shawn Porter (CBS, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), Justin DeLoach (14-1, 8 KOs) will headline an action-packed NBCSN card when he takes on Junior Castillo (10-0, 9 KOs) from the Scottish Rite Auditorium in San Antonio (11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT).
DeLoach, a 22-year-old from Augusta, Georgia, is returning to action for the first time since March 25, when he scored a fourth-round knockout of Dillon Cook (then 16-0) in Miami, Oklahoma. Three weeks later, Castillo—a 30-year-old Dominican southpaw—also got the best of an unbeaten opponent, earning a unanimous decision over Kyrone Davis (then 10-0) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“I’m definitely excited,” DeLoach says of facing Castillo. “I watched Castillo’s last fight against Kyrone Davis, and he’s a strong fighter and a southpaw who is sort of slow and flat on his feet.
“But I feel as though Kyrone gave up his edge by standing in there and fighting with a strong fighter when he had some advantages in speed that he could have used if he hadn’t been in the guy’s face so much.”
DeLoach’s victory over Cook was his fourth in a row since he suffered his only pro defeat, a third-round TKO by Cesar Vila in February 2015. DeLoach says he expects Castillo, who represented the Dominican Republic in the 2012 London Olympics, to provide a stiffer challenge than Cook.
“This next fight is a perfect transition into a guy who could be a little bit tougher,” DeLoach says. “But I have a lot of speed, and I feel like it’s a fight where I can showcase my skills and show the boxing world who I am.”
Also part of the NBCSN card is rising prospect Ryan “Cowboy” Karl (11-0, 8 KOs), who will battle Luis Solis (16-6-4, 13) in a 140-pound clash scheduled for eight rounds.
Karl, 24, stopped Ken Alvarez in the fifth round of a scheduled six-rounder in his most recent fight November 28 in Dallas. That capped an active 2015 in which Karl fought six times, earning three stoppage victories and three unanimous decisions.
Solis, a hard-punching 24-year-old Mexican, will represent the most experienced opponent to date for Karl, who is being trained in Houston by Ronnie Shields, DeLoach’s former trainer.
“Ryan is a kid who walks right in and lets his punches go. He comes to fight,” says Shields, who guided 154-pound champions Erislandy Lara and Jermall Charlo to unanimous decisions last month over Vanes Martirosyan and Austin Trout, respectively.
“I’ve known him since he was a young kid. Of all of his fights, this is a step up for him. He’s only been as far as six rounds, but he’s trained for eight rounds, and that’s what he’s scheduled for. I’m just looking for him to follow the game plan. He’s ready to go.”
THURMAN READY TO SEIZE 147-POUND THRONE FROM MAYWEATHER
When Thurman and Porter square off Saturday, the main thing at stake will be Thurman’s 147-pound title. But also on the line will be a spot at the top of the 147-pound rankings.
Long one of boxing’s most glamorous weight classes, the 147-pound division is void a true top dog now that that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are—for the time being, anyway—retired. Now Thurman and Porter are two in a slew of gifted 147-pounders eager to take over as the main face of the division.
“Mayweather’s gone. Pacquiao’s gone. There’s no better time than this for this fight to go down and for each one of us to showcase our skills and talent to the world,” Thurman says. “Mayweather was at the top for over a decade, and his legacy has cast a shadow over the 147-pound division.
“You want someone to replace him, but that’s going to take almost another decade. You have to see who is going to be the top dog for the next three to five years, then you have a king, because kings rule, and Mayweather ruled the 147-pound division. This fight is a steppingstone.”
ROBERT EASTER JR.: ‘I’M HERE TO TAKE OVER THE 135-POUND DIVISION’
Toledo, Ohio, product Robert Easter Jr. (17-0, 14 KOs) and Ghana native Richard Commey (24-0, 22 KOs) have been given until July 6 to come to terms on a 135-pound fight for the title vacated by Rances Barthelemy (25-0, 13 KOs), who is moving up to 140 pounds.
In his last fight on April 1, the 25-year-old Easter earned his fifth straight stoppage, a fifth-round TKO of former world champion Algenis Mendez, who had never previously been stopped.
Commey, 29, is also coming off his fifth consecutive TKO win, a second-round wipeout of Anzor Gamgebeli on March 19.
“Some people might not have believed that I was ready for a title shot, but I proved [against Mendez] what I’ve known all along, and I’m here to take over the 135-pound division,” says Easter, who at 5-foot-11 and with a 76-inch reach is unusually long for a 135-pound boxer. “I came out boxing, pumping jabs and moving, but I exchanged in the infighting. I knew I was going to knock him out, but I didn’t want it to be a boring fight.
“Since the fight, people have been comparing me to a 135-pound Tommy Hearns. This next guy, Commey, I’m ready for him. I am ready for everyone. I’m ready to win the world title.”
Lem’s Corner is published each Wednesday at PremierBoxingChampions.com.