Assuming an eleventh-hour glove controversy doesn’t derail plans, and these controversies seldom do, sometime in the next twenty-four hours, we will have an answer to the most exciting question in boxing.
Who is the best Jr. middleweight in the world?
It doesn’t have to be Jr. middleweight. The question was just as exciting when it was “Jr. welterweight” and the names were Taylor and Ramirez. Boxing matches between two fighters who have cleared the decks to be the last men standing, fighting with everything on the line, are the best matches of all.
Showtime’s Saturday main event (9 PM EST) doesn’t just have stakes. It also has, on paper, the style clash of a classic.
The lethal sharpshooter versus crafty pressure.
The exact versus the voluminous.
The best match to be made at the moment it should.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Title: Lineal World Jr. Middleweight (2020-Present, 1st Attempted Defense); WBC super welterweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense); Ring/WBA/IBF Jr. middleweight (2020-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: WBC super welterweight (2016-18, 3 Defenses)
Weight: 153 lbs.
Hails from: Houston, Texas
Record: 34-1, 18 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 6-1, 5 KO
Last Five Opponents: 134-12-1 (.915)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Joachim Alcine TKO6; Austin Trout MD12; Tony Harrison L12, KO11; Jeison Rosario KO8
Title: WBO Jr. middleweight
Previous Titles: None (Held WBA sub-title at 154 lbs.)
Height: 5/7 ½
Weight: 153 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Isidro Casanova, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Record: 17-0-1, 12 KO
Press Rankings: #2 (TBRB, ESPN, BoxRec); #3 (Ring)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0 (4-0-1, 2 KO in WBA sub-title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 160-11-3 (.928)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Michael Soro SD12; Erislandy Lara D12; Patrick Teixeira UD12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
The Pick: It’s probably too simple to boil this fight down to the volume of Castano and the power of Charlo. Simple isn’t always wrong. At a root level, that is what the fight will be about but the subtlety of how each man applies their skills enriches the simplest analysis. Castano is a busy, intelligent pressure fighter who is very effective at picking off shots with his high guard, slipping side to side, and landing while seemingly always coming forward. Charlo is a patient, smart boxer puncher with an outstanding jab and sense of distance.
The danger for Castano will be his lower margin of defensive error. On the way up the ranks, Castano was dropped badly by Emmanuel de Jesus. It was the kind of right hand Charlo can threaten with for all twelve rounds. The danger for Charlo will be letting Castano win rounds early and pile them up for too long. If that happens, the clock will be Charlo’s enemy and could force him to open up more. When he does, Castano’s volume could become even more impressive.
This feels like a fight where a focused Charlo will understand he can’t let a hole develop and will work more early to keep it close. His body attack, particularly long rights and jabs to the belly, can serve as a check in Castano’s forward march. Both men are going to land and fans will be entertained but the thinking here is eventually Charlo finds the right power moment to turn the fight decisively. The pick is Charlo by late stoppage.
Rold Picks 2021: 30-6
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org