There are certain fighters opponents don’t want to see twice.
It’s rare we get a fighter who is one of them and somehow makes their second chapters better than the original.
Jermell Charlo is 2 for 2.
In his first fight, he lost a debated tactical battle to Tony Harrison only to win a thrilling rematch by knockout. This time, it was a sequel to an already thrilling first edition. Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano mix perfectly for action and both upped their game for a fantastic rematch.
Both men picked up the offense, Charlo firing his jab with merciless consistency while Castano stayed on him with sharp rights and a sneaky counter left. In the fifth, both men let it all hang out for one of the best rounds of the year.
A close fight seemed to change in the seventh. If Charlo saw just how much, he didn’t let on right away. He hurt Castano but didn’t follow up, perhaps missing the dip in the legs of his foe. The shift in output was palpable.
According to Compubox, Castano threw more and landed more in rounds 3-7 with a high of 91 punches thrown in the sixth. The edge was smaller in the seventh as Castano’s output dropped to below fifty punches and never got above sixty punches thrown the rest of the night.
Castano posted a nice stand in the final minute of the ninth but it put him in harm’s way, enough to be slightly ahead on this card at 5-4 after nine (the judges saw a different fight, though it was the kind of fight where that made sense).
Scores didn’t matter. Sharpshooters are tough to see twice. Eventually, they’re going to land. Charlo did, landing a perfect left through the guard of Castano to drop him in the tenth and, while Castano beat the count, the finish was academic from there.
Charlo added Castano’s WBO belt to complete his perfect set. Whether he keeps them all from here, the line is clear.
Jermell Charlo is the king at Jr. middleweight.
Futures: For Charlo, his completion in cleaning out the title scene merits consideration of his place with the best Jr. middleweights of all time. There is a case he’s the best run the division has seen since the prime of Mike McCallum. Charlo’s tenure is longer than Tito Trinidad, who made his mark with a sensational 2000 run. It’s also less blemished than the last man to be recognized as undisputed, Winky Wright.
Neither Wright nor Charlo made it through their long years in the class unblemished. Charlo was unlucky to get a loss to Harrison and a little lucky to avoid one against Castano the first time. Wright lost his first title shot, but was admirably competitive despite suffering five knockdowns against Julio Cesar Vazquez. He lost close but fairly to Harry Simon and lost close but with a little bad luck to Fernando Vargas. Charlo might not have a name as big as Shane Mosley on his record but the finality of his biggest wins, his ability to close the show, stands out.
It’s worth a debate. Charlo is still building his argument barring a move to middleweight.
Eyes will turn to the future. Charlo may try to defend all his straps at least once. He could also give some up rather than pay fees for all of them. If he keeps the straps, it’s impossible to ignore business one class below. If Errol Spence-Terence Crawford happens this year, we could have two undisputed kings within a division of each other. Even if some belts get shed, the rightful champs would be obvious.
Crawford has already said he wants Charlo if he beats Spence. Spence has suggested there is a price available to pit him versus his fellow Texan.
For Castano, there is still plenty of business to get done. After some time to lick his wounds, he can hold his head up as no worse than the next best man in his class. After some time, a third fight wouldn’t be unwelcome. Castano could also be a good test for someone like Tim Tszyu or Sebastian Fundora if they can’t find a direct line to Charlo. A fight with Tony Harrison could also be intriguing if Harrison doesn’t find himself across from Charlo for a trilogy clash.
Jr. middleweight has been one of boxing’s gems for years now. That gem shined again Saturday with another outstanding affair.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.