This Saturday night from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, the undisputed junior middleweight title will be on the line as Jermell Charlo (who has the WBC, WBA and IBF belts around his waist) faces WBO titlist, Brian Castano, as the main event on Showtime.
Perhaps it's been lost among the hysteria and disappointment of the recent heavyweight bout between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder getting postponed till the early fall, to the anticipation of the August showdown between unified welterweight champion, Errol Spence, and the legendary Manny Pacquiao, but this bout represents the crown jewel of what has been a strong summer lineup for Showtime.
And coming into this bout it almost feels like a coronation of sorts for the fiery native of Houston, who has openly spoke about his placement in the mythical pound-for-pound lists, and his standing in the game as he becomes undisputed at 154.
Most are penciling in a victory for Charlo, who picked up the WBA and IBF straps last September by denting the stomach of Jeison Rosario, and halting him in the eighth round. He does have advantages in speed and athleticism, and he is the (PBC) house fighter in this match-up.
But to paraphrase the late Dennis Green: Don't crown him just yet, if Castano is who we think he is.
This hard-nosed, rugged Argentine is the consummate two-fisted pressure fighter, who has shown a good beard (which is key), durability, and actually has a higher knockout percentage than Charlo.
This bull from Buenos Aires is a live 'dog on Saturday night.
And it has to be pointed out that the odds really aren't that titled against him. My friend @fight_ghost(on Twitter) says that the betting line has remained steady at 2-to-1 in favor of Charlo. So Douglas-Tyson this ain't.
At the very least he will be a tough out.
The case for Castano is that he will carefully pursue Charlo in the early rounds because it will be imperative for him to get out of the first third of this bout relatively unscathed against the favorite, who will most likely be boxing and moving behind his jab. It's the middle rounds and late stages where he will have to shift gears and start to really close the gap and smother Charlo. From the mid-range and inside is where he will chip away at the favorite.
If you go back to Charlo's revenge victory over Tony Harrison in December of 2019, while he scored three knockdowns on his way to an 11th round stoppage, for large segments of that fight, Harrison was effective as he went inside the pocket and consistently went to work on Charlo. Harrison, is known more or less as a boxer, who prefers to operate on the perimeter of the ring behind his boxing skills. But it was eye-opening to see Harrison carve up Charlo as much as he did as they were chest-to-chest.
And while Charlo consistently shattered the glass ribs of Rosario, in-between the plethora of knockdowns that were scored, Rosario has pockets of success as he pressed the action and had Charlo on his back foot.
This is what Castano does best -- press and grind.
One leading trainer told me, "I think we may get an upset. Charlo loses too may rounds that he doesn't hurt his opponent in. If he can't hurt Castano, he has a tough night." Canvassing the opinion of boxing insiders, it's almost unanimous that this will be a hard fought battle.
“It’s going to be a tough fight between two great champions. Charlo is strong and a good boxer but he never suffered in the ring before. He will on July 17," said Castano, who could put himself in the pantheon with the likes of Sergio Martinez and Marcos Maidana, among Argentine standouts of recent ilk with a victory.
"My prediction," he stated, "is that I am going to win and he will suffer.”
The resemblance between Tim Tszyu and his father, Kostya, is uncanny. Not just in their physical features, but the manner in which they box inside the squared circle. He's got the probing left hand, followed by a straight-as-an-arrow right, and he possesses legitimate power in both hands.
Last week Tszyu blew out late replacement, Steve Spark, in three rounds. At this point, Tyszu is undefeated in 19 fights (scoring 15 stoppages) and he has cleared out Australia when it comes to junior middleweights. Right now, Tszyu is ranked number one by the WBO, and third by the WBC and IBF.
There's no denying his star power 'Down Under' but I do wonder if he's quite ready for the upper echelon at junior middleweight. There's no denying his offensive arsenal, but like his father, he's a bit upright and stiff in the upper body, and even in this recent blowout, he looked susceptible to right hands over the top.
There's a lot to like about Tszyu, who looks to be the biggest boxing star Australia has had since perhaps his father, a Russian who emigrated to the country at the beginning of his pro career. He has a fan-friendly style and is already a significant draw.
But you wonder, if Tszyu 2.0 rushed, will he face his own Vince Phillips moment
Speaking of junior middleweight champions, former WBC 154 pound titlist, Oscar De La Hoya, made some waves by stating to Mike Tyson on his podcast that he wants to eventually face Canelo Alvarez.
Uh yeah, as the kids say: Oscars got more cap than 'Lids'.
With the Jake Paul-Tyrone Woodley fight now taking place on Sunday August 29, I'm told that Matchroom Sports will put up their tent at 'the War Grounds' in Carson, California, on August 28 in what will be an afternoon event on DAZN. The main event will feature WBA/IBF junior featherweight champion, Murodjon Akhmadaliev against Ronny Rios....Also on this Showtime telecast this weekend is a lightweight bout between Rolando Romero and Anthony Yigit, and a middleweight contest between Amilcar Vidal and Immanuwel Aleem.... The broadcast begins at at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.....