By Jake Donovan
No matter how Saturday’s performance would play out, there was no way Carlos Castro was going to be able to measure up to his career-best performance one fight ago.
Still, it was a strong showing for the unbeaten featherweight, who scored a 10-round unanimous decision over Mexico’s Mario Diaz on Saturday evening at Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Ariz. Scores were 100-89 twice and 98-91 in favor of Castro.
Diaz (18-3, 7KOs) danced as hard as he could but wasn’t able to accomplish much more than forcing Castro to work every round. It properly motivated the rangy featherweight, who lives and trains less than two hours away in Phoenix, who floored Diaz in round two for the bout’s lone knockdown.
The subsequent rounds were competitively lopsided, meaning that Castro was winning each three-minute frame although by varying degrees. Diaz emptied his gas tank in the 10th and final round, which made for thrilling two-way action to the delight of the passionate crowd on hand.
It wasn’t anywhere nearly enough to turn the tide, despite the disbelief of Diaz and his corner upon the final announcement going against him.
Castro improves to 23-0 (9KOs) with the win, which comes after an impressive showing in a virtual shutout of veteran featherweight contender Genesis Servania this past February. Even in riding a high off a career-best win, the rising prospect came prepared to prevent his landing on the wrong end of an upset.
“We knew it was a tough fight, and that’s why we prepared so hard for this battle,” said Castro afterward. “But this is my title, and no one is going to take it from me. My next step is to keep working hard and to move closer to a world title shot. I love fighting in front of my home state fans. The fans in Tucson are special.”
The bout streamed live on ESPN+, in supporting capacity to a pair of title fight rematches to air live on ESPN. Topping the bill, Miguel Berchelt (35-1, 31KOs) attempts the fifth defense of his 130-pound belt versus Francisco Vargas, whom he dethroned in Jan. 2017.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox