A critical look at the past week in boxing
Jermell Charlo had a strong resume going into his rematch with Brian Castano on Saturday, with victories over Vanes Martirosyan, Erickson Lubin, Austin Trout, Tony Harrison and Jeison Rosario.
On Saturday, he topped himself. And he won’t be perceived the same again.
Charlo and Castano had to settle for a draw last July, which was a small step backward for Charlo and raised doubts about his place among the better boxers. However, just as he did after he lost a close decision to Harrison, he made a big statement by scoring a late knockout in the rematch.
Castano used his pressure tactics to hold his own for nine-plus rounds, which produced a thrilling fight. That wasn’t enough this time, though. Charlo didn’t allow Castano to bully him, countered Castano’s aggression beautifully to build a lead on the scorecards and ultimately delivered a dramatic ending.
He dropped and hurt his rival with a left hook to the temple in Round 10 and finished the job moments later to become the undisputed 154-pound champion and remove any doubt about his place among the best in the business.
He has now defeated every fighter he has faced, after avenging the loss to Harrison and draw with Castano. And the fact he corrected those missteps – demonstrated that he can make necessary adjustments – is particularly impressive.
One might compare him to Lennox Lewis, who avenged his two losses by scoring knockout victories in rematches. No, Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) hasn’t climbed to Lewis’ level of success yet, but he just took a nice step in that direction.
The fact he’s a special fighter has never been more clear.
Castano (17-1-1, 12 KOs) might end up being remembered primarily as the guy who gave a potential Hall of Famer trouble but couldn’t get over the hump.
On Saturday he trailed on the scorecards after nine rounds – 89-82, 88-83 and 87-84 – but he was competitive, a testament to his ability and determination. His ultimate problem? He couldn’t stand up to Charlo’s power, which has to be appreciated now more than ever.
The Argentine is good, one of the better fighters his country has produced. He’s just not as good as his American rival.
The good news for Castano is that he seems to have plenty of fight left in him at 32, the product of good training habits and the fact he hasn’t been in many taxing wars.
He might not be able to beat Charlo but his skill set and relentless style make him a threat to any of the top junior middleweight contenders, assuming he continues to fight and stays at the weight.
Indeed, he almost certainly has more important victories ahead of him, which will build both his fortune and legacy.
And his aggressive style – which gives even his best opponents no choice but to fire back at him to survive – will always make for entertaining matchups.
Indeed, we haven’t seen the last of Brian Castano. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Gilberto Ramirez might be the most underappreciated 44-0 fighter (30 KOs) of all time.
The Mexican is a former 168-pound titleholder with victories over Arthur Abraham, Jesse Hart (twice) and Sullivan Barrera. And he has stopped all five of his opponents after becoming a full-fledged 175-pounder.
Ramirez’s career stalled a few years ago in part because of promotional issues – he fought only once over a two-year period – but, now in the Golden Boy fold, he’s back on track.
He defeated journeyman Dominic Boesel (32-3, 12 KOs) by a fourth-round knockout on Saturday in Ontario, California, to become the mandatory challenger to Dmitry Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight title.
That doesn’t mean he’ll get an immediate fight with the conqueror of Canelo Alvarez but he’s first in line, which means a title shot is on the horizon if he continues to win.
And he probably will. Ramirez isn’t a dynamic or particularly athletic fighter but he has good skills, experience, durability and confidence in himself, all of which has allowed him to build a perfect record even if not that many have taken notice.
Ramirez also is a naturally big man. He weighed in at 174.8 pounds for the Boesel fight but reportedly rehydrated to a remarkable 204, a gain of 29.2 in one day. If he can do that comfortably, that’s a big advantage over most opponents.
Let’s hope that Ramirez gets back to fighting big-name opponents in high profile fights. He’s too good to be toiling in relative obscurity.
I don’t want to jump the gun on Jaron Ennis, who, at 24, is still developing and building in resume. It’s difficult for me to hold back, though. The Philadelphian gave another eye-popping performance on the Charlo-Castano card, stopping capable (but scared) Custio Clayton with a single straight right behind the ear in the second round. The Canadian was able to get up but couldn’t continue, which made him Ennis’ 19th consecutive knockout victim. I can’t put him in the class of titleholders Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. because he hasn’t demonstrated at the highest level that he’s on their level. That said Ennis might be more talented than either of his rivals, which is saying something. He has ridiculous natural gifts, polished skills and (as we saw) one-punch knockout power. And I believe he also has a good chin. Find a flaw! I can’t wait for Ennis to fight the best at 147 pounds. I’m not sure anyone can beat him.
Gilberto Ramirez stops Dominic Boesel in fourth round
Jermell Charlo knocks out Brian Castano to become 154-pound king
Jaron Ennis puts Custio Clayton away with one punch in second round
Photos: Jermell Charlo’s brutal 10th-round KO of Brian Castano
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