For 10 months, Jermell Charlo and Brian Castaño have argued back and forth about what actually happened on a July night in San Antonio.
In an effort to unify the junior middleweight belts, the two champions fought to a draw July 17 at the AT&T Center. The fight was a battle of momentum with Castaño (17-0-2) hurting Charlo (34-1-1) in the early rounds, then the Alief fighter storming back and appearing to be on the verge of finishing Castaño. In the end, judges ruled it a draw and the fighters haven’t seen eye-to-eye since.
The two can settle things Saturday night (8 p.m. on Showtime) in Carson, Calif., when they meet again with each man trying to become the first 154-pound fighter to hold all four belts. The last undisputed champion in the weight class was Winky Wright, who won three belts when he beat Shane Mosley in 2004, but a fourth belt has been added since then.
Charlo – who has the WBC, WBA and IBF belts – rarely takes a step back in the ring or in front of a microphone, but he does admit to making a mistake by not “emptying the clip” on Castaño when he had him wobbled in the 10th and 11th rounds of their last fight.
“I didn’t finish him so I think that was the only mistake I made,” Charlo said Thursday. “I’m usually a closer. I have that on the back of my mind. Once he’s hurt again, and hopefully it’s earlier than later, it’s over.”
Had Charlo been able to put Castaño on the mat, even if he didn’t finish him, that would have been the difference in the scorecards and all the belts would have resided in Houston. Although Charlo is hailed as a power puncher, Castaño said he didn’t feel anything that impressed him last summer and proved that by staying on his feet.
“At this level, everyone has power,” said Castaño, who has the WBO belt. “Only one opponent has sent me to the mat, and it wasn’t Charlo. He’s strong, but there’s nothing about his power that truly stands out to me compared to other fighters I’ve faced.”
Brian Castano answers questions during a press conference for his upcoming super welterweight fight against Jermell Charlo at The Westin Los Angeles Airport on May 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Besides just disagreeing on the outcome of the first fight, the bad blood has been bubbling since the rematch was pushed back in March when Castaño suffered a biceps injury in training. Charlo claimed Castaño was trying to buy extra time to get in better shape and even made accusations about the Argentinian needing more time before taking mandatory drug tests. Castaño has called Charlo’s talk “disrespectful,” but days before the fight, Charlo – who just three weeks ago, promised to make Castaño cry in the ring this time – has stuck to the script of saying he’s the one who benefitted from the extra two months of training.
“I’m going to be stronger, faster and smarter than I’ve ever been before,” Charlo said. “Thank you Castaño, for giving me more time to prepare myself.”