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

Jeffrey Freeman

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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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Emanuel Navarrete Retains WBO Featherweight Title in a San Diego Firefight

David A. Avila

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SAN DIEGO-WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete won by unanimous decision over Joet Gonzalez in a slugfest that had fans cheering nonstop on Friday night. Fans were mesmerized by the savagery.

More than 2,000 fans saw Mexico City’s Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) and Southern California’s Gonzalez (24-2, 14 KOs) bounce brutal shots off each other for 12 successive rounds at Pechanga Sports Arena.

Both Navarrete and Gonzalez were about equal in height with the champion maybe a slight taller, but not by much. As soon as the first bell rang the two featherweights opened up in furious fashion.

Gonzalez was making his second attempt to grab a world title. His first attempt fell short a year ago. He was eager to atone for the defeat by clobbering Navarrete. Body shots were the weapon of choice.

The Mexican fighter Navarrete was accustomed to battling shorter fighters, this time the two were equal in size and in fury. Blows were flying in bunches and by the third round Gonzalez suffered a cut on his right cheek.

At several points Navarrete would connect with a solid blow and eagerly seek to finish the fight. Each time it happened Gonzalez would fight back even more furiously and beat back the champions attacks.

Gonzalez also connected with big shots and moved in for the kill only find Navarrete take a stand and fire back. Neither was able to truly gain a significant edge. After 12 rounds of nonstop action the decision was given to the judges. One scored it 118-110, two others saw it 116-112 all for Navarrete.

Fans were pleased by the decision and even more pleased by the breath-taking action they had witnessed.

Welterweights

Local fighter Giovani Santillan (28-0, 15 KOs) remained undefeated by unanimous decision after 10 rounds versus Tijuana’s Angel Ruiz (17-2, 12 KOs). The two southpaws were evenly matched.

San Diego’s Santillan was able to outwork Ruiz in almost every round. Though Ruiz has heavy hands he was not able to hurt Santillan even with uppercuts. It was clear very early in the fight that Santillan was the more technical and busier of the two. No knockdowns were scored.

After 10 rounds two judges scored it 100-90 for Santillan and a third saw it 99-91.

Other Results

Lindolfo Delgado (14-0, 12 KOs) battered and knocked down fellow Mexican Juan Garcia Mendez (21-5-2) in the last round of an 8-round super lightweight bout, but could not score the knockout win.

Delgado, a Mexican Olympian, was the quicker and stronger fighter yet discovered Garcia Mendez has a solid chin. All three judges scored it 80-71 for Delgado.

Puerto Rico’s Henry Lebron (14-0, 9 KOs) defeated Manuel Rey Rojas (21-6) by decision after eight rounds in a lightweight match.

Javier Martinez (5-0, 2 KOs) soundly defeated Darryl Jones (4-3-1) by decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Jones was tough.

Las Vegas bantamweight Floyd Diaz (3-0) knocked down Tucson’s Jose Ramirez (1-1) in the first round but was unable to end the fight early. Diaz won by decision.

Heavyweight Antonio Mireles (1-0) knocked out Demonte Randle (2-2) at 2:07 of the first round.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank for Getty Images

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Book Review

Russell Peltz’s “Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye”: Book Review by Thomas Hauser

Thomas Hauser

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Russell Peltz’s “Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye”: Book Review by Thomas Hauser

Russell Peltz has been promoting fights for fifty years and is as much a part of the fabric of Philadelphia boxing as Philly gym wars and Philly fighters. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004 and deservedly so. Now Peltz has written a memoir entitled Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye that chronicles his many years in the sweet science.

Peltz started in boxing before it was, in his words, “bastardized by the alphabet groups” and at a time when “world titles still meant something.”

“I fell in love with boxing when I was twelve,” he writes, “saw my first live fight at fourteen, decided to make it my life, and never looked back.” He promoted his first fight card in 1969 at age 22.

Peltz came of age in boxing at a time when promoters – particularly small promoters – survived or died based on the live gate. Peltz Boxing Promotions had long runs at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia and both Harrah’s Marina and the Sands  in Atlantic City. His journey through the sweet science included a seven-year stint as director of boxing for The Spectrum in Philadelphia. At the turn of the century, he was a matchmaker for ESPN.

Along the way, Peltz’s office in Philadelphia was fire-bombed. He was robbed at gunpoint while selling tickets in his office for a fight card at the Blue Horizon and threatened in creative ways more times than one might imagine. He once had a fight fall out when one of the fighters was arrested on the day of the weigh-in. No wonder he quotes promoter Marty Kramer, who declared, “The only thing I wish on my worst enemy is that he becomes a small-club boxing promoter.”

Now Peltz has put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard. “The internet is often a misinformation highway,” he writes. “I want to set the record straight as to what actually went on in boxing in the Philadelphia area since the late-1960s. I’m tired of reading tweets or Facebook posts or Instagram accounts from people who were not around and have no idea what went on but write like they do.”

Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye is filled with characters (inside and outside the ring) who give boxing its texture. As Peltz acknowledges, his own judgment was sometimes faulty. Russell once turned down the opportunity to promote Marvin Hagler on a long-term basis. There are countless anecdotes about shady referees, bad judging, and other injustices. Middleweight Bennie Briscoe figures prominently in the story, as do other Philadelphia fighters like Willie “The Worm” Monroe, Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, and Matthew Franklin (later Matthew Saad Muhammad). Perhaps the best fight Peltz ever promoted  was the 1977 classic when Franklin knocked out Marvin Johnson in the twelfth round.

There’s humor. After Larry Holmes pitched a shutout against Randall “Tex” Cobb in 1982, Cobb proclaimed, “Larry never beat me. He just won the first fifteen rounds.”

And there are poignant notes. Writing about Tanzanian-born Rogers Mtagwa (who boxed out of Philadelphia), Peltz recalls, “He couldn’t pass an eye exam because he didn’t understand the alphabet.”

Remembering the Blue Horizon, Peltz fondly recounts, “”The Blue Horizon was a fight fan’s nirvana. The ring was 15-feet-9-inches squared inside the ropes. No fighter came to the Blue Horizon to pad his record. Fans wanted good fights, not slaughters of second-raters.”

That ethos was personified by future bantamweight champion Jeff Chandler who, after knocking out an obviously inept opponent, told Peltz, “Don’t ever embarrass me like that again in front of my fans.”

Thereafter, whenever a manager asked Peltz to put his fighter in soft to “get me six wins in a row,” Russell thought of Chandler. “I enjoyed promoting fights more than promoting fighters,” he writes. “If I was interested in promoting fighters, I would have been a manager.”

That brings us to Peltz the writer.

The first thing to be said here is that this is a book for boxing junkies, not the casual fan. Peltz is detail-oriented. But do readers really need to know what tickets prices were for the April 6, 1976, fight between Bennie Briscoe and Eugene Hart? The book tends to get bogged down in details. And after a while, the fights and fighters blur together in the telling.

It brings to mind the relationship between Gene Tunney and George Bernard Shaw. The noted playwright and heavyweight great developed a genuine friendship. But Shaw’s fondness for Tunney stopped short of uncritical admiration. In 1932, the former champion authored his autobiography (A Man Must Fight) and proudly presented a copy to his intellectual mentor. Shaw read the book and responded with a letter that read in part, “Just as one prayer meeting is very like another, one fight is very like another. At a certain point, I wanted to skip to Dempsey.”

Reading Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye, at a certain point I wanted to skip to Hagler.

There’s also one jarring note. Peltz recounts how, when Mike Jones fought Randall Bailey for the vacant IBF welterweight title in Las Vegas in 2012, Peltz bet five hundred dollars against Jones (his own fighter) at the MGM Sports Book and collected two thousand dollars when Bailey (trailing badly on the judges’ scorecards) knocked Jones out in the eleventh round.

“It was a tradition from my days with Bennie Briscoe,” Russell explains. “I’d bet against my fighter, hoping to lose the bet and win the fight.”

I think Russell Peltz is honest. I mean that sincerely. And I think he was rooting for Mike Jones to beat Randall Bailey. But I don’t think that promoters should bet on fights involving their own fighters. And it’s worse if they bet against their own fighters. Regardless of the motivation, it looks bad. Or phrased differently: Suppose Don King had bet on Buster Douglas to beat Mike Tyson in Tokyo?

Philadelphia was once a great fight town. in 1926, the first fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney drew 120,000 fans to Sesquicentennial Stadium. Twenty-six years later, Rocky Marciano knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott at same site (renamed Municipal Stadium) to claim the heavyweight throne.

Peltz takes pride in saying, “I was part of Philadelphia’s last golden age of boxing.”

An important part.

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Broken Dreams: Another Year Inside Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, he was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 156: A World Title Fight in San Diego and More

David A. Avila

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World championship prizefighting returns to San Diego.

Though the port city serves as a base for US Marines, US Navy and other fighting organizations, boxing has rarely held events in its city limits. But it’s no stranger.

WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs) defends against L.A. native Joet Gonzalez (24-1, 14 KOs) on Friday night at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, Calif. ESPN+ will stream the Top Rank card.

One reason boxing events are rare in San Diego lies in the simple reason it’s located a mere 20 miles from Tijuana, Mexico. It is cheaper to stage boxing shows across the border and common to see up to five shows taking place simultaneously.

A world champion like Navarrete wants to be compensated in world championship style and that means fighting on American soil.

Navarrete, 26, hails from Mexico City and has beaten back-to-back featherweight contenders from the USA in Christopher Diaz and Ruben Villa. Before that, he upset Isaac Dogboe to win the super bantamweight world title before making weight forced him to move up a division. He’s a fighting machine.

“I think this is going to be a tough fight. He is a tough opponent,” said Navarrete.

Gonzalez, 28, was raised in a fighting family and has previously fought for a world title but was unsuccessful against Shakur Stevenson. The Los Angeles native had an extensive amateur career and as a professional he’s steadily adapted to the professional style. This is his shot at the world title.

“Navarrete has a style that’s very unique, very hard to figure out, and that’s why he’s a champion,” said Gonzalez. “I’m planning on leaving Friday night with that belt.”

In a semi-main event local fighter Giovani Santillan (27-0, 15 KOs) meets Angel Ruiz (17-1, 12 KOs) in a clash between southpaw welterweights set for 10 rounds. Both fought numerous times on Thompson Boxing Promotion cards in Southern California.

Santillan has fought as the main event on many occasions and provided upsets in nationally televised events.

“It’s very special for me to be fighting here in San Diego. I grew up close by here. To all my family and friends that are coming, expect the best version of me. I’m coming with everything,” said Santillan.

Ruiz also has fought on nationally televised events and upset a fighter or two. Southpaw versus southpaw can be puzzling. It usually comes down to who has the better right hook.

“He’s a great fighter. I’m a great fighter, too,” said Ruiz.

Doors open at 5 p.m.

Mikey Garcia Returns

It’s been almost two years since Mikey Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) last fought. He returns on Saturday, Oct. 16, to face Sandor Martin (38-2, 13 KOs) a slick fighting southpaw from Barcelona, Spain. Their super lightweight bout takes place in Fresno, Calif. at the Chukchansi Park. DAZN will show the fight.

Garcia has been one of the boxing masters and has captured world titles in four weight divisions. Very few can match his wisdom inside a prize ring. The last time he fought was on February 2020 when he defeated Jessie Vargas in a welterweight clash.

Now Garcia is back down to super lightweight. He had hoped to entice Manny Pacquiao for a big money fight, but the Filipino superstar chose another.

Martin has never fought on American soil and has only ventured out of Spain twice. He’s a big question mark when it comes to ability. Can he match skills with Garcia who has won world titles as a featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight?

We shall see.

The co-main event features WBO light flyweight titlist Elwin Soto (19-1, 13 KOs) of Mexico defending against Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Gonzalez (24-3-1, 14 KOs). As most of you know, anytime Mexico fights Puerto Rico anything can happen.

Heavyweight Examination

Tyson Fury’s victory over Deontay Wilder proved to be the best of the trilogy that began three years ago in Los Angeles. Anytime you see multiple knockdowns it exemplifies the fight game to its core. It’s a battle of wills and the best man wins.

Only once before had two larger heavyweights exchanged blows when seven-footer Nicolai Valuev and Jameel McCline battled in 2008. But that heavyweight match was held at Switzerland and only seen in Europe. And there was another fight between NBA size power forwards in Los Angeles that was equally exciting when Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko clashed in the Staples Center on June 2003. It turned out to be Lewis’s farewell fight and a classic.

Wilder and Fury put on another classic.

The 1990s seemed to be the last decade where heavyweight rumbles regularly took place. You had Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield torching each other with massive blows and skill to match. There was Lennox Lewis, of course, and his gentleman killer ways. And, of course, there was still Mike Tyson whose best decade was the 1980s, yet was the heavyweight with the biggest following.

In this age of social media driven world of entertainment, Fury and Wilder did participate in a lot of seemingly useless drivel. But once inside the ropes, they delivered like FedEx truck drivers on the clock.

Those old enough to remember recall the three battles between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Nothing tops their three clashes, especially the “Thrilla in Manilla” in 1975. If you get a chance, take a look at that savagery. Though no knockdowns were scored, it was that mesh of skill and intensity for nearly 15 rounds that mesmerized sports fans and made both fighters legends for all time.

This past Saturday, Fury and Wilder reminded sports fans that heavyweight splendor still exists. And that no other sport comes down to the basic man-versus-man in a boxing ring. The biggest and baddest slugged it out and the winner was Fury.

Boxing is the ultimate sport.

Fights to Watch

Thurs. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Lester Martinez (8-0) vs Raiko Santana (8-2).

Fri. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Santiago Dominguez (24-0) vs Jesus Antonio Rubio (13-4-1).

Fri. ESPN+ 6 p.m. Emanuel Navarrete (34-1) vs Joet Gonzalez (24-1); Giovani Santillan (27-0) vs Angel Ruiz (17-1).

Fri. Telemundo 11:59 p.m. Axel Aragon (14-4-1) vs Armando Torres (26-19).

Sat. DAZN 11 a.m. Hughie Fury (25-3) vs Christian Hammer (26-7); Savannah Marshall (10-0) vs Lolita Muzeya (16-0).

Sat. DAZN 2 p.m. Mikey Garcia (40-1) vs Sandor Martin (38-2).

Sat. FITE.TV 3 p.m. Cletus Seldin vs William Silva

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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