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A Dissenting Opinion: Jeffrey Freeman’s Round by Round Breakdown of the Charlo-Castano Fight

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Last Saturday night in San Antonio, Texas, there was a compelling 12-round junior middleweight unification title fight held on Showtime. Willing participants Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano attempted to unify all four belts in their weight division but thanks to the ringside judges and their split draw verdict, the claim of “undisputed” continues to go unclaimed at 154 pounds.

Fans and media were quick to beat up on Puerto Rican judge Nelson Vazquez for his 117-111 tally in favor of Charlo, the hometown fighter. The two other judges, Tim Cheatham and Steve Weisfeld had it much closer with a 114-114 draw and a 114-113 score for Castano.

Omaha Nebraska’s Terence Crawford tweeted out that Charlo lost the fight and must do better if he wants to be P4P. Many were surprised the fight was as close as it was with most experts picking Charlo to win, some by knockout. Only Main Events matchmaker Jolene Mizzone called the draw, her pick leaning towards Castano with a skeptical eye towards the judges.

Let’s now take a closer look at Charlo-Castano and see what the fuss is all about. Was 117-111 really such an outrageous score in favor of Charlo? Did Charlo really lose to an unheralded fighter from Argentina? Who should have won? Or was it actually just a close, legit draw?

ROUND ONE: A very jabby feel-out first without a lot of sustained action. Three belt champion Charlo is easily backed into a corner and onto the ropes by the pressure and attempted overhand rights of the mauler Castano, holder of the WBO championship. Not much to choose from here but Castano was busier so I gave him the round 10-9. Judges Cheatham and Weisfeld agree but the much-maligned Nelson Vazquez gives the round to Charlo, 10-9.

ROUND TWO: The rangy Charlo keeps the action in the center of the ring to start the second round, connecting with a nice one-two before fending off and avoiding wild punches from Castano with some wild punches of his own along the ropes. In the middle of the ring, Charlo does his best, most disciplined work, forcing Castano to back up from exchanges and not punch back. I scored this round for Charlo 10-9 as did all three of the ringside judges.

ROUND THREE: Long slashing jabs from Charlo keep Castano at bay and off balance throughout most of the third round. Then with ten seconds left in the frame, a firefight broke out with Charlo lingering on the ropes. Seeing this, Castano went on the attack and a tight left hook connected on the chin of Charlo, ringing his bell and bringing a smile. Charlo answered right back with a one-two but another Castano left hook seemed to faze him before the bell rang. I, and all three judges, gave this round to Castano 10-9 as he broke through and buzzed Charlo.

ROUND FOUR: Charlo is boxing well and moving at range but doing so prevents him from being able to land power punches with any real authority. Charlo clearly respects Castano based on his body language in the ring—his flinching from feints. Castano uses a nice high guard, not unlike that of Micky Ward. Still, Charlo is breaking through it in the fourth round with snappy one-twos and occasional left hooks. Castano’s wild punches are being blocked or miss outright, leaving him open to counters. I scored this round for Charlo 10-9. Judges Cheatham and Weisfeld disagree and give the fourth to Castano 10-9. Judge Vazquez sees it 10-9 for Charlo.

ROUND FIVE: Castano starts the fifth slowly, being boxed around and kept on a leash by the left jab of Charlo. Bull rushes from Castano are ineffective and Charlo is able to command range and distance with ease, mostly staying off the ropes and in the middle of the ring. With fifteen seconds left in the round, Charlo loiters on the ropes and pays for it with a hard right hand from Castano that causes him to cover up and take cover from Castano’s follow up barrage. A relatively uneventful round like this is hard to score on the fly without any time to reflect. Still, all three judges gave it to Charlo, 10-9. I have to agree with them. Charlo wins the round 10-9.

ROUND SIX: Charlo’s conservative gameplan is clear. Command the center of the ring with a stiff jab. Back up Castano and attack with the follow-up right hand if possible. Avoid being backed-up and stay off the ropes if possible. By the very end of the sixth round, Charlo is back on the ropes but this time he fights off them better and is not roughed-up by Castano. I gave the round to Charlo 10-9 and after six rounds I have the fight 58-56 Charlo, 4-2 in rounds. Only Steve Weisfeld gave this round to Castano; Vazquez and Cheatham seeing it 10-9 for Charlo.

ROUND SEVEN: A pair of one-twos in the middle of the ring from Charlo sets the tone in the seventh round. It may sound like a cliche but the bout now resembles a bull against a matador. When Castano charges, he is gored by jabs and circled around by Charlo, being forced to reset his attack in vain. I gave this round to Charlo 10-9 while all three judges saw it 10-9 for Castano.

How did YOU score this round? Tell me in the comments.

ROUND EIGHT: Castano scores with a clean right to the chin in the first minute of the eighth round and then lands another before Charlo settles down the tempo behind his jab. Castano’s aggression has Charlo on the ropes where he hates to be, missing his attempted left hooks. Easy round for me to score for Castano 10-9. As in the first round, judges Cheatham and Weisfeld agree with me but Vazquez goes the other way, scoring the round 10-9 for Charlo.

ROUND NINE: Neither fighter is showing any signs of fatigue but for the first time in the fight, both boxers are starting to throw more arm punches than straight hard shots. Charlo is painting Castano with his jab but can’t get off his power punches. Castano’s aggression pays off late in the ninth round and he wins it on my card 10-9 by sheer force of will. All three judges agree.

ROUND TEN: After a slow first minute in the tenth, Castano backed Charlo into the ropes and connected with a nice little left hook. Charlo tried to answer but missed as Castano motored away. At the halfway point of the round, Charlo landed a left hook and a straight right that seemed to stun Castano who clinched hard for the first time in the fight, clearly rattled. Another nice one-two combo from Charlo put Castano into retreat mode and Jermell took advantage to tee off. I scored the tenth 10-9 for Charlo as did judges Cheatham and Vazquez. Steve Weisfeld scored the round 10-8 for Charlo without a knockdown, going just a little too far in my book.

ROUND ELEVEN: Castano is still affected by Charlo’s attack in the tenth. He is immediately backed into a corner to open the championship rounds, not a good look. Charlo can’t miss when he punches but he’s just not a real finisher. What he is is a boxer and he easily outboxes Castano to carry the eleventh, 10-9, on my card and on that of all three ringside judges.

ROUND TWELVE: Charlo enjoyed his most complete three minutes of the fight in the twelfth and final round. He kept Castano on the end of his jab, mixed in the left hook, and avoided the majority of incoming. I scored the twelfth 10-9 for Charlo as did all three ringside judges.

*** I scored the fight 116-112 for Charlo, 8-4 in rounds.

According to CompuBox, which Paulie Malignaggi once described as computer nerds playing at ringside, pushing buttons to decide which punches do and don’t land: “Charlo landed 151 of 533 (28.3%) punches in the fight to Castano’s 173 of 586 (29.5%). Castano held a slight advantage in power punches, landing 164 of 400 (41%) to Charlo’s 98 of 246 (39.8%) while Charlo out-jabbed his opponent by a significant margin, landing 53 of 287 (18.5%) to Castano’s nine out of 186 (4.8%).”

KO’s Conclusion: Castano was fortunate to get the draw and keep his WBO title after being hurt in the tenth and shut out in the championship rounds. Was 117-111 for Charlo really so bad? Not at all. I had it only one round closer.

The most egregious card was actually turned in by Steve Weisfeld who despite scoring the tenth 10-8 for Charlo, had Castano winning, which no real case can be made for, not even by Terence Crawford! Castano tried to win, yes. But he didn’t. This was not the “Fight of the Year” and though a rematch will be made, I can take it or leave it.

If anything, the draw score simply sets up an unnecessary rematch but this time on PPV.

“I won this fight,” said Charlo afterwards.

It’s hard for me to disagree.

Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Freeman’s opinion does not reflect that of his editor.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

Boxing Writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the Marvelous career of Marvin Hagler. JFree then lived in Lowell, Mass during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A former member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a Bernie Award Winner in the Category of Feature Story Under 1500 Words. Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 287: Boxing Wars on Tap in Philadelphia and Las Vegas

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Those boxing wars continue.

Rival promoters battle it out in America as Matchroom Boxing shows off its newest prize Jaron Ennis while Top Rank presents a world title fight in the middleweight division.

Take your pick. Both are scintillating.

Philadelphia’s Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs) makes his promotional debut for the British boxing promotion company and faces David Avanesyan (30-4, 18 KOs) for the IBF welterweight world title on Saturday June 13 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing card.

It’s been a year since Ennis last fought and meanwhile he was bestowed the IBF title without throwing a punch. He earns it on Saturday.

“Having this time off isn’t going to affect me at all. I just want to get back in the ring,” said Ennis whose last fight was a knockout win over Roiman Villa back on July 8, 2023.

A promotional war ensued for the right to sign Ennis. Matchroom Boxing was the winner and they’re itching to showcase one of the most talked-about welterweights to come along since Sugar Ray Leonard.

Avanesyan was selected to replace original opponent Cody Crowley who was forced to withdraw for medical reasons. The Armenian fighter has upset a few in his career including Sugar Shane Mosley and England’s Josh Kelly a few years back.

He’s not shy.

“I think that this is a 50-50 fight. He’s younger, He’s strong, it’s a very good fight,” said Avanesyan who lives in the United Kingdom.

Ennis had no qualms about facing a veteran like Avanesyan.

“It’s a better fight than Cody Crowley but I’ll beat him up, break him down and get the knockout,” Ennis said.

For the past several years boxing experts have been crowing about the Philadelphia prizefighter’s immense talent. On Saturday in front of a hometown crowd he continues the journey toward stardom.

Also, on the same card female WBC featherweight titlist Skye Nicolson (10-0) defends against Dominican stalwart Dyana Vargas (19-1). The Aussie southpaw makes her first real world title defense.

Las Vegas

IBF and WBO middleweight titlist Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (15-0, 10 KOs) defends against Andrei Mikhailovich (21-0, 13 KOs) on Saturday July 13, at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. ESPN+ will stream the Top Rank boxing card.

Its Kazakhstan versus Russia as Alimkhanuly continues the middleweight tradition established by his countryman Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Can he continue to dominate?

Alimkhanuly, 31, is a southpaw slugger and still learning how to corral a moving target. But he has power and shouldn’t have a problem finding Mikhailovich who packs power too.

Mikhailovich, 26, fights out of New Zealand but has never had a professional fight outside of the island nation. Will he be able to ignore the glitter of Las Vegas?

Also, Southern California’s Ray Muratalla (20-0, 16 KOs) faces former super featherweight champion Tevin Farmer (33-5-1, 8 KOs) in a lightweight clash set for 10 rounds.

It’s another step-up fight for Muratalla who had a four-fight knockout streak snapped in his last fight against South Africa’s Xolisani Ndongeni this past March. It won’t get any easier against speedy Farmer.

Golden Boy and 360 Promotions

Tickets are available for the super welterweight showdown between Vergil Ortiz and Serhii Bohachuk that takes place on Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

A press conference was held today at the Golden Boy headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Both fighters were present to kick off the promotion that will feature the two fighters with almost 100 percent knockout rate.

Ortiz has won every fight by knockout. Bohachuk’s last fight ended in a win and was the first time he didn’t obtain a victory by knockout. But the Ukrainian fighter did pick up the interim WBC title with the win over Brian Mendoza who previously had knocked out current champion Sebastian Fundora.

Both Bohachuk and Ortiz train in Southern California.

Fights to Watch

Thurs. ESPN+ 11 a.m. Nelson Hysa (17-0) vs Thorsten Fuchs (13-1).

Sat. DAZN 5 p.m. Jaron Ennis (31-0) vs David Avanesyan (30-4-1); Skye Nicolson (10-0) vs Dyana Vargas (19-1).

Sat. ESPN+ 8 p.m. Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (15-0) vs Andrei Mikhailovich (21-0); Ray Muratalla (20-0) vs Tevin Farmer (33-5-1).

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Trevor McCumby Fell Off the Map and Now He’s Back with a Big Fight on the Horizon

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Trevor McCumby Fell Off the Map and Now He’s Back with a Big Fight on the Horizon

There’s a church in Arizona that has its own motto: “A church that cares where you’re going and not where you’ve been.” It’s the catchline of The Rock, a non-denominational Christian church in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria.

That phrase undoubtedly resonates with Trevor McCumby, a member of the congregation. “I’ve been to some dark places,” says McCumby who was working at a 7-11-style convenience store a few years ago and now finds himself on the cusp of some big paydays in the sweet science.

If McCumby’s name rings a bell, it likely relates to something that had its genesis on Nov. 26, 2016, when he knocked out Donovan George in the opening round on a card in Las Vegas.

The result was changed to “no contest” when traces of two banned substances were discovered in McCumby’s pre-fight urine specimen. Also, McCumby acknowledged receiving an intravenous infusion to rehydrate after the weigh-in which was against the rules of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

It wasn’t until July of the following year when McCumby learned his fate. The boxing commission suspended him for 18 months, retroactive to Nov. 26, 2016, and fined him $3,750.

He maintains that he never knowingly took a PED. He pointed the blame at a multi-vitamin supplement allegedly contaminated with anabolic agents. (Trevor’s advice to his fellow boxers: If using a supplement, save the receipt and keep the empty container; it may come in useful someday.)

McCumby quit boxing at this juncture but returned in 2018 and recorded two more wins, pushing his record to 25-0 with 17 knockouts. Eleven of those kayos came in the opening round and that doesn’t include his demolition of Donovan George which effectively never happened.

And then, Trevor McCumby fell off the map. Four-and-a-half years would elapse before he returned to the ring, his comeback stalled by a knee injury suffered in sparring.

A light heavyweight during his run to 25-0, he returned as a super middleweight. Two wins in Phoenix prefaced his ProBox debut on Jan. 31 of this year when he won a lopsided 10-round decision over 17-3-1 Christopher Pearson. Up next is former IBF world super middleweight champion Caleb Plant who has been in with the top dogs in the division. It’s not official yet, but it’s an open secret that McCumby and Plant have agreed to touch gloves on August 17, likely in Florida.

Trevor McCumby, now 31 years old, was introduced to boxing by his father, a police officer in Niles, Illinois, and former Marine who once served as a presidential honor guard. The minimum age for an amateur boxer in Illinois was eight, but the elder McCumby lied about his son’s age and Trevor started competing with oversized gloves at the age of seven. (Trevor McCumby and his dad are pictured in a story about amateur boxing in the Windy City that ran in the Chicago Tribune in April of 1999. At the time, little Trevor would have been six years old.)

The McCumbys then lived in Yorkville, Illinois, a town roughly 50 miles southwest of Chicago. Trevor recalls traveling almost every day after school to the gritty south side of Chicago for training. Sweating side-by-side with inner city kids couldn’t help but speed up his development. He had a fine amateur record (127-11 by his count) and, at age 17, with the Olympics yet two years away, was ready to say “yes” when he got a surprise call from Cameron Dunkin who wanted to manage him. Renowned for his keen eye as a talent scout, the late Mr. Dunkin had one of the foremost stables in boxing.

McCumby was then living in Phoenix. He would finish high school in Las Vegas before making his pro debut in Los Angeles at age 18.

Looking back, Trevor says, “I didn’t take boxing as seriously as I should have. After each win, it was time to go out and party.” His hiatus from boxing was sobering on many levels. Working in a convenience store was humbling and his priorities changed when he met Kenzie (short for McKenzie), a member of the worship committee at The Rock and his future wife. Trevor is now the father of a 3-year-old son, a 1 ½-year-old daughter and there’s another girl on the way, due in November. As for the knee injury, a torn ACL, Trevor says, “it took about a whole year of rehab but feels better now than it ever did.”

McCumby opened his camp for the Plant fight during the week of July 4 at the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas. His training is being coordinated by Brandon Woods, a protégé of Hall of Fame trainer Kenny Adams.

He and Caleb Plant have a common opponent in a manner of speaking. Plant went 12 rounds with David Benavidez in his last outing, losing a unanimous but relatively close decision. The “strength of schedule factor” in Plant’s favor will weigh heavily in setting the odds for McCumby vs. Plant. But McCumby has also shared the ring with Phoenix-native Benavidez, and on many occasions. “We gave each other great work,” he says. “You could have sold tickets to those sparring sessions.”

There was a time when it seemed that Trevor McCumby would be remembered mostly for putting his hand in the cookie jar and failing to maximize his talent. But hold the phone. His boxing journey is far from finished and this is a story that may ultimately prove uplifting.

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Fernando Martinez Ratches Up the Heat in the Hot Super Flyweight Division

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On Sunday in Tokyo, Fernando Martinez picked up a second piece of the world super flyweight title with a mild upset of Kazuto Ioka. Martinez owned the IBF belt and added Ioka’s WBA scalp to his bedpost. That gives the Argentinian globetrotter one more belt than Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez if you are keeping score.

Of course, there isn’t a little man on this planet who would be favored over “Bam” at the moment, excepting Naoya Inoue who competes two divisions up at 122. The San Antonio southpaw was so impressive in dismantling Juan Francisco Estrada on July 29 that he stifled all talk of whether he belongs on the pound-for-pound list. The debate now is about his placement; how high should it be? But despite Bam’s towering presence in the 115-pound division, there are some good fights out there for him beginning with Martinez.

Kazuto Ioka brought quite a resume. The first fighter from Japan to win world titles in four weight divisions, he was 31-2-1 heading in with both losses by split decision and was appearing in his twenty-fifth world title fight. But Martinez showed no fear of him. He took the fight to Ioka and closed strong, winning by scores of 120-108, 117-111, and 116-112. (The 120-108 tally by California judge Edward Hernandez Sr was assailed as ludicrous; the fight was much closer than that…but there was no disputing the verdict, the right guy won.)

A fight with Bam Rodriguez, who was in attendance, would be the most lucrative for Fernando Martinez, but he has other options. WBO belt-holder Kosei Tanaka is out there as is former pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. Both are in action this month. Chocolatito (51-4, 41 KOs) fights this coming Friday on his home turf in Managua against Colombian journeyman Rober Barrera (27-5). Tanaka (20-1, 11 KOs) defends his belt on July 20 in Tokyo against Mexico’s Jonathan Rodriguez (25-2-1). Tanaka has won four straight since getting dominated and stopped by Ioka in 2020.

The outcome of the Ioka-Martinez bout was no surprise to Matt McGrain who previewed the contest in these pages. And, as McGain noted, Martinez doesn’t have much time left to build up his fan base outside South America and the Orient. His current record (17-0, 9 KOs) betrays the fact he turns 33 next week.

The smaller weight divisions have never attracted a large following in the United States, but that has something to do with a historical dearth of American-born fighters at the pinnacles. Bam Rodriguez is making even casual fans stand up and take notice and his ascent comes at a time when his division is percolating.

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