Super welterweight champ Brian Castaño ready to prove eliteness vs. Erislandy Lara

Combat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Brian Castano looks on during the press conference prior to his WBA title fight against Erislandy Lara at Barclays Center on Feb. 28, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Getty Images)
Brian Castano looks on during the press conference prior to his WBA title fight against Erislandy Lara at Barclays Center on Feb. 28, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Getty Images)

It’s no fun getting punched in the face, but knowing that, most fighters would still tell you that making weight is by far the toughest and least favorite part of their jobs.

A tough weight cut can lead to problems in the match.

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A tough cut for Brian Castaño led to other problems, however. Castaño, who will defend his WBA super welterweight title against Erislandy Lara on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in a bout televised by Showtime, suffered ongoing issues because of it.

In 2014, Castaño signed for a welterweight bout against Sebastian Lujan. He had three days to lose 22 pounds to make the agreed upon 147-pound weight limit. The weight wasn’t coming off easily and his father/trainer, Carlos Alberto Castaño, became alarmed.

“Brian was on the verge of passing out,” Carlos said of his son. “He was feeling so weak and he had cramps all over his body. I was very, very concerned. He was badly dehydrated. Fortunately, there was a hospital just three blocks away from where we were working and I was able to get him there.”

Brian Castaño knew on the spot his days of trying to make 147 pounds were over. What he didn’t know was the impact the failed weight cut had on his psyche.

When he tried to cut weight again, he had a panic attack. He had a pinching sensation in his stomach and in his mouth. He was fearful he wouldn’t make weight again. He was fearful of what may be happening to his long-term health. There were plenty of unknowns and it all concerned Castaño tremendously.

He decided to speak to a psychologist for help.

“You don’t know what is going on really with your body and of course, that makes you very worried,” Castaño said. “For me, I wanted to do it correctly, so I worked closely with both my doctor and a psychologist. It took me long time until I got to where I knew I could do it and not put myself at risk and not totally freak out about it.

“I’m not going to lie: It was a difficult and ugly experience and it took about a year for me to overcome the situation. The human mind is very powerful and it can lead to good things but also bad things. I had to learn how to handle my mind because I wasn’t going to be able to be at full capacity as a boxer unless I did.”

Castaño, who is 15-0 with 11 knockouts, is not just some guy off the street. As an amateur, he defeated American Errol Spence Jr., in the Pan-Am Games, and he beat Sergiy Derevyanchenko in the World Series of Boxing.

Castaño is the third consecutive unbeaten opponent Lara has faced, and Castaño pledges respect for what Lara has done. But he still believes he’s going to shock those fans who expect Lara to waltz to victory.

“I think people recognize that he is an elite super welterweight, and so this gives me an opportunity to prove I’m elite in this division, too,” Castaño said. “I am not a knockout puncher and so I’m not predicting I will knock him out. But I’m going to be in there and giving the kind of fight that people will like, and that could lead to a knockout.

“There are a lot of great fighters in this division and I realize the importance of this fight. If I beat a guy with the name and reputation that Lara has, it will put me right there for big fights with [Jarrett] Hurd, Tony Harrison and [Jermell] Charlo. I feel everything has come together in my career and this is the time that I show I am the best in this division.”

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