Castaño vs. Lara ends in split decision draw

By Robert Ecksel on March 2, 2019
Castaño vs. Lara ends in split decision draw
It boiled down to effective versus volume punching after 12. (Stephanie Trapp/Showtime)

Reigning and defending WBA “regular” super welterweight champion Brian Castaño retained his title via split decision draw against ageless Erislandy Lara…

Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in a fight televised live on Showtime Championship Boxing, reigning and defending WBA “regular” super welterweight champion Brian Castaño (15-0-1, 11 KOs), the young gun from Buenos Aires, Argentina, retained his title via split decision draw against Erislandy Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs), the ageless southpaw from Houston by way of Guantanamo, Cuba. 

The final scores after 12 back-and-forth rounds were 115-113 for Castaño (Kevin Morgan), 115-113 for Lara (John McKaie), and 114-114 (Julie Lederman).

Under normal circumstances, there’s little less satisfying than a split decision draw. But in this fight, while it appeared that Lara had won, a split decision draw was not out of the question and cries of bias seem rote rather justified. It was a difficult fight to score. Without rooting for either fighter, in the end it boiled down to effective versus volume punching, with Lara representing the former and Castaño the latter. Some people side with bombers and it’s easy to understand why, while other prefer sharpshooters, and the master boxer from Guantanamo remains one of the sharpest sharpshooters in boxing today.

Castaño, fighting out of the red corner in white trunks with gold trim, has many virtues. At 29 years of age he is younger than Lara. He is possibly stronger than Lara. He has heavy hands and a good beard. He is unrelenting if unrefined. But he can follow a game and pressured Lara, landing hard shots upstairs and down, while eating more than his fair share of punches.

But Lara, fighting out of the blue corner in black trunks with red trim, is an exceptional talent. Even at 35, even after the war with Jarrett Hurd in his last bout, which was Fight of the Year in 2018, Lara can compete with anyone at 154 and controlled the range and pace, despite Castaño’s body shots, and despite Lara’s habit of leaning against the ropes while picking his shots.

Lara started strong and took the first two rounds. He was busier, more accurate, and more composed than the man he hoped to dethrone. But Castaño came on in rounds three and four with left hooks to the body and some picture-perfect uppercuts.

Castaño continued to bring it in rounds five and six as Lara was slowing down. He was fighting off the ropes, while Castaño’s short punches were getting through his guard.

The second half of the fight was almost impossible to score. It was give-and-take. There were no 10-8 rounds. I had two or three rounds even. Other rounds were split by the fighters and it looked like Lara edged it. But it was a competitive bout that could have gone either way, depending on one’s preferences and preconceived notions, an excellent fight by two excellent fighters that warrants a rematch to settle matters once and for all.

“I know I won the fight,” said Castaño. “I feel I was robbed. If he wants the rematch, I’ll give him the rematch. I waited for him this time so I can wait for him again if he wants the rematch. I would give him the rematch if he wants. I can also go ahead and fight any other champion that wants to fight me. I’m ready for whoever they put in front of me.”

Lara felt the same way.

“I thought I won the fight by landing the more accurate and effective punches,” he said. “Castaño came to fight but he never hurt me and I hurt him.  All I can do is give the fans great fights and that’s what I’ll continue to do.  I have a lot of fight left in me and I’m not going anywhere. If we have to fight him again, I’ll fight him. Hurd or Castaño, anybody, I’ll have the rematch with both.”

In the co-main event, former world title challenger and veteran Cuban banger, Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (31-1, 2 ND, 26 KOs), kept hope alive for a rematch with Deontay Wilder by outpointing two-time European champion Christian Hammer (24-4, 14 KOs) over 10 lackluster rounds. On paper, this was a fight Ortiz was supposed to win without breaking a sweat by nailing Hammer before knocking him out. 

On canvas it was another story.

Although the lopsided scores of 100-90 and 99-91 twice in favor of Ortiz were more or less accurate, it was an uninspired performance from a fighter many hoped might be a force in the heavyweight division. But his less than stellar statement suggests that he’s a fighter in decline, a decline helped in no small part by Hammer’s resilience, confidence, and effective right hand lead.

If Ortiz fights Wilder again, it’s unlikely he’ll last 10 rounds like the first time.

The third televised fight was between #3 ranked Eduardo Ramirez (22-1-3, 1 NC, 9 KOs), the 126-pound southpaw from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, and #1 ranked Bryan De Gracia (24-2-1, 20 KOs), the knockout artist from Puerto Armuelles, Panama. Ramirez pulled off the TKO upset at 2:10 of round 9 to win the WBA Gold featherweight title and, more important, laurels for fight of the night.

Having a definitive ending helps.

The fight was Ramirez’s matador versus De Gracia’s bull, and as usual the matador won.

Coming into the bout with only 8 KOs in 26 fights, many felt it was a matter of time before the stronger man punched Ramirez back to Mexico. But Ramirez was the more skilled of the two men, which reaffirmed that a good enough boxer can defeat a good enough puncher if the puncher’s boxing is deficient.

De Gracia dictated the pace in several rounds and landed the heavier shots. He was throwing more punches, often single shots, but he landed at a lower percentage than Ramirez, who used the ring, combination punching, and his defensive wiles to make De Gracia miss before making him pay.

A right uppercut dramatically turned the tide. De Gracia was on Queer Street, getting pummeled on the ropes when the ref waved it off. It was a good stoppage by Benjy Esteves.

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  1. Lucas McCain 12:31pm, 03/05/2019

    fan—then you’d also have to ban even rounds.  There was a judge years back whose nickname was “5-4-1,” his round score no matter how wide or close the fight was.  I’m sure “6-6-1” is waiting to step in.

  2. fan 07:19am, 03/04/2019

    to avoid draw we should have thirteen rounds of boxing.

  3. Saul Blanco 05:48am, 03/03/2019

    I totally agree that it was a difficult fight to score and a draw was not out of the question. These are two contrasting styles but as you stated Lara’s tendency to fight off the ropes in order to pick his shots makes him have to take way too many extra shots. He fights with a great deal of flair but this was a fair result and I would love to watch a rematch. Castano has a lot of heart. Exciting fighter.


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