Patrick Teixeira knew the threat he would next face from the moment he first put a title around his waist.

The hard-punching Brazilian was just upgraded from interim to WBO junior middleweight title and hadn’t even received the physical belt before learning of his next challenge. It comes in the form of a mandatory title defense versus former secondary WBA 154-pound title claimant Brian Castano, who is a heavy betting favorite to dethrone Teixeira this weekend.

The defending champ doesn’t have to believe that claim in order to acknowledge the threat.

“Brian is a great fighter, a very strong fighter. I know this will be a difficult fight,” Teixeira told “We had fun talking (trash) to one another, but I have a lot of respect for him and for what he can do in the ring. I’ve been waiting a long time for this fight and am ready to defend my title on February 13th.”

The long-awaited matchup finally takes place this Saturday, live on DAZN from Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. The two were originally due to collide last April in this very same venue, only for the event to get shut down by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Visa issues—heightened due to travel restrictions during the global health crisis—caused several delays and two separately ordered purse bid hearings. Golden Boy ultimately won the rights to the fight, with a collective sigh of relief offered once Teixeira made his way from Brazil to Los Angeles last December, remaining stateside for the duration of his training camp.

Saturday’s bout will mark his first since scoring an upset win over unbeaten Carlos Adames in Nov. 2019. The feat came with an interim title which he would upgrade less than a week later, as he was named WBO junior middleweight champ at the sanctioning body’s annual convention in Tokyo as former claimant Jaime Munguia moved up in weight.

From there has come an extended waiting period for both fighters. Buenos Aires’ Castaño (16-0-1, 12KOs) has been out four weeks longer than Teixeira, as he was last seen in a 5th round stoppage of Wale Omotoso in their Nov. 2019 FS1-televised non-title affair.

Castaño previously held a secondary version of the WBA, of which he was stripped due to financial concerns surrounding his eventually canceled rematch with Michel Soro. Since then has come an entertaining 12-round draw with Erislandy Lara for his old title in April 2019 followed by the aforementioned win over Omotoso. The squat 31-year old Argentinian comes in well-credentialed, enough to where he is presently a -600 betting favorite according to bet365 and -550 according to gambling news outlet

“I know that I am the underdog coming into the fight,” acknowledges Teixeira. “That is nothing new for me. I was the underdog in my last fight and we saw what I was able to do against [Adames].

“The odds can [read however] they want. I am coming into this fight as the champion and will leave the ring that way. I worked too hard to get to the United States and for this fight. I have seen plenty of Brian Castaño and respect him as a tough challenger. But my goal is to be the undisputed champion and he is the threat in my way. That is what I trained for and I will leave the ring as still the WBO champion.” 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox