Jermell Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) faces Brian Castano (17-0-1, 12 KOs) to attempt to unify the junior middleweight division on Saturday. Charlo holds the WBC, IBF and WBA belts, while Castano is the WBO champion. Not only will the fight crown an undisputed champion, it also has the potential to be one of the best action fights of the year.
Charlo won the vacant WBC belt in 2016 and defended it three times, notably against Erickson Lubin and Austin Trout. He suffered an upset loss to Tony Harrison in 2018 but regained the belt by stoppage in the rematch and subsequently unified it with the WBA and IBF belt last year when he knocked out Jeison Rosario.
Castano first made waves on the world stage when he traveled to France and beat the very solid Michel Soro for the WBA interim belt in in 2017. He defended the belt in France again against Cédric Vitu in 2018. His next defense would see him face his toughest opponent, former titlist Erislandy Lara. His fight with the Cuban former amateur world champion ended in a draw and Castano retained. However he was stripped of the title when he refused to travel to France once again for a rematch with Soro. He earned his WBO belt in a relatively easy outing against Brazil’s Patrick Teixeira.
Both fighters favor an aggressive style, pack a punch (Charlo’s been working on his power so don’t let his low KO ratio deceive you) and do their best work in the pocket. Castano has excellent timing and strike selection at close range but is a bit vulnerable to body shots. He usually gets a way with it because he usually has an edge in physocality and power over his opponents. That’s something he won’t enjoy against Charlo who will at least match him there and is a committed body puncher, particularly with the jab. He’s also shown more of a disposition for fighting on the backfoot should he need a plan B. This makes him a slight favorite in my mind in what should be a fantastic fight.
As great as the main event is both in relevance and potential action, the same can’t be said about the co-main event, a WBA lightweight interim title fight between Rolando Romero (13-0, 11 KOs) and late replacement Anthony Yigit (24-1-1, 8 KOs). Romero won the belt in an absolute robbery over Jackson Marinez last year. Yigit had a decent amateur career, representing Sweden at the 2011 World Championships and in the 2012 Olympics. He didn’t medal or even place but was eliminated by the eventual world champion in 2011 and the silver medalist by a single point in London. In the pros, he won the European title and defended it twice in 2017. He took part in the World Boxing Super Series super lightweight tournament and sustained the only loss of his pro career, a seventh round stoppage loss to Ivan Baranchyk for the vacant IBF belt.
Technically, Romero is way short of the world level and at 25 is more than likely too old to ever make the leap he would need to get close. His jab and defense in particular are extremely sloppy. Yigit has been inactive for the last two years and is coming in on one week notice but though he is not world class himself, he has shown to be a solid European level fighter and as a southpaw should be tricky to deal with for Romero. If he has been in the gym during the past two years and barring another robbery in favor of Romero, that is a fight he should win.
The curtain jerker is a middleweight fight between prospect Amilcar Vidal (12-0, 11 KOs) and Immanuwel Aleem (18-2-2, 11 KOs). Vidal passed a good test in his last fight when he stopped previously undefeated Edward Ortiz in two. Aleem scored a big upset over former amateur world champion Ievghen Khytrov in 2017. He’s lost momentum by going 1-2-1 since but as a fighter who has been in firefights against good opposition before, he should be a good test for the Uruguayan knockout artist.
Charlo vs Castano airs on Showtime on Saturday July 17th at 9:00pm ET / 6:00pm PT.