CARSON — Jermell Charlo and Brian Castaño have sworn their rematch for the undisputed 154-pound world boxing championship will not come before the judges this time.
Ten months after battling to a draw in the home state of Charlo, Texas, for the historic crowning of boxing’s first undisputed super welterweight champion in the four-belt era, neither man didn’t want to risk another decision.
For over nine rounds they fought the way they wanted.
One of the best fights of the year ended when Charlo dashed the Argentine WBO champion’s hopes after a pair of knockdowns, culminating in the stoppage at 2:33 of the 10th.
“It’s a legacy,” said Charlo, who added Castaño’s WBO title to his collection of WBA, WBC and IBF belts. “It’s something that’s legendary. I’m a legend. It’s a beautiful thing.
Charlo put Castaño on the canvas for the first time following a right to the body and a short left to the head which froze the Argentine, who seemed to crumble in slow motion.
Getting back to his feet on the count of five, Castaño, 32, was thrown into a corner by a strong right-jab combination as Charlo charged forward. Another left broke Castaño’s head back. The dominating champion added a jab to the body for good measure, prompting referee Jerry Cantu to drop out of the fight and cement Charlo’s undisputed 154-pound status.
Unlike their first encounter, the ringside judges had Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) comfortably ahead of Castaño (17-1-2, 12 KOs) heading into the fateful championship rounds.
Charlo said he felt nervous during the fight, almost like it was his first contest, but he never seemed uneasy even when Castaño passed him 194 to 173, according to numbers. CompuBox.
The mixed scores (117-111, 114-114, 113-114) from their initial fight reflected stylistic differences that were ruled out in the rematch.
Charlo, 31, preferred a far less ambitious attack when first encountered, and his limited output had the effect of shielding him while finding openings through which to diffuse his considerable punching power.
“I didn’t finish it, so I think that was the only mistake I made,” Charlo said ahead of Saturday’s rematch. “I’m usually a closer.”
Charlo found that form and refused to allow Castaño, who showed up late to the scene, to trap him against the ropes without a heavy response, making the first six rounds of their rematch much more active than their contest of July 2021 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
“One thing we tried to change was not being on the ropes too much and firing uppercuts from different angles,” Charlo said. “Throwing punches he can’t see. That’s what we did. Punch at specific points on the body and break it down.
Castaño was taken early in their contest last year before regaining his sensibility and banking rounds, but with Houston-born Charlo happily competing on Saturday, there would be no going back this time.
“I didn’t go to bed,” said Charlo, who showed minimal physical damage to his face beyond a small cut on his lip. “I knew he was coming and I would let him come and I knew he wouldn’t be here.”
An intense exchange in the first minute of the fourth round put the fans at Dignity Health Sports Park on their feet.
Round 5 delivered the most violent stretch for both sides as the super welterweights unloaded powerful punches and produced loud roars from the Argentinian and American fans.
“Obviously I applied the most pressure in the first six rounds, but he was smarter this time and fights are fights,” Castaño said. “He caught me.”
As the fight entered its final stages, Charlo heeded the words of his trainer Derrick James as he shifted from a scorching brawling pace to more measured shots. Soon Castaño’s pressure wore off. The fallen WBO title list explained that Charlo’s decision to box from the sixth round was effective against him.
“I got into my bag around round seven,” said Charlo, who carried each round on the three judges’ cards the rest of the way. “I started to sit a little more instead of boxing so much and moving around. I saw that he was getting a bit exhausted and I was breaking it down. I just saw my punches being more effective. I get stronger in later rounds if they didn’t know.
Ahead of the main event, budding welterweight star Jaron “Boots” Ennis continued his impressive unbeaten run by knocking out Custio Clayton (19-0-2) with a right hand behind the ear at 2:49 of the Round 2.
The undefeated 24-year-old Philadelphian improved to 29-0 (27 KOs) and earned a mandatory IBF title berth at 147 pounds, lining him up to challenge Errol Spence Jr., who watched the contest from the ring .