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Sometimes a draw is the right result.
That might’ve been the case on Saturday night in San Antonio, where Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano – both hoping to become the first undisputed 154-pound champ – had to settle for a stalemate that allowed them to hold onto their respective belts.
And both had to overcome adversity to avoid losing. Castano survived being hurt in the second and 10th rounds while Charlo had to win the final three frames to avoid defeat.
Castano, the pressure fighter from Argentina, didn’t throw as many punches as he normally does in part out of respect for Charlo’s power. A left hook to his jaw in the second round buckled his knees, underscoring an obvious concern.
However, Castano used cautious aggression to outwork Charlo through nine rounds, generally getting the better of inside exchanges while blocking many of Charlo’s shots with his gloves.
Going into the 10th, it seemed that the underdog might be on the cusp of a significant upset. Then Charlo’s vaunted power turned the tide. He hurt Castano a number of times in Round 10, forcing him to move laterally to survive as Charlo went in for the kill.
Castano recovered by the end of that round and was competitive in the final two frames. However, Charlo, warned by trainer Derrick James that he needed a knockout, fought with urgency to finish the fight with a flourish and stave off defeat.
“My coach told me I need the knockout in the ninth round and I just knew he knew what he was talking about. I trust my coach,” Charlo said.
Turns out he just needed three strong rounds to finish the fight. Tim Cheatham scored it 114-114, Steve Weisfeld had Castano winning 114-113 and Nelson Vazquez somehow scored it 117-111 for Charlo, nine rounds to three, making it a split draw. Boxing Junkie scored it 115-113 for Castano.
Thus, Charlo holds onto his IBF, WBA and WBC titles and Castano goes home with his WBO belt.
Afterward, both fighters said they believed they did enough to win the fight.
“My skills and my ability and my power … I felt like I won this fight and I deserve to be going home undisputed,” he said. Said Castano: “I won the fight. There were some rounds that he did hit me and he hit me hard, but I won this fight.”
Now what? The world was expecting the coronation of a new undisputed champion and nothing was resolved.
It remains to seen whether the sanctioning bodies will allow their titleholders to put off mandatory defenses so Charlo and Castano can do it one more time. Only this is certain: They both still are in love with the idea of being called “undisputed.”
“I want to be undisputed,” Charlo said. “That’s what I want. That’s my destiny.”
Said Castano: “I hope I get the rematch. … I need the rematch.”
The fans do, too.