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

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

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    By Jeffrey Freeman

    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.

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

  • #2
    Arne, your editorial addendum begs the question. What exactly is your opinion? Who won? Was it a good draw? How’d you score it? Was the 10-8 round out of bounds? Are fans and writers simply overreacting and making yet another judge they disagree with into a villain? Do you find it as interesting as I do that despite scoring no 10-10 even rounds, all three judges did their jobs and made individual judgement calls at the end of every round, picking one or the other boxer? I saw no rounds that Castano was robbed of after winning it big. Just a bunch of rounds left up to judges and writers and fans because Charlo ain’t a killer but a skilled boxer who I saw outbox a limited but determined foe. Then the interwebs exploded and I had to get busy.✍️


    • #3
      This is a very thorough and well researched report, KO. Really fine job. Me, I have it a draw, but it could go to either guy and I would not complain. Charlo' has a nasty personality and that gets in the way of his skills in the ring.


      • #4
        Thank you Ted.

        I know that’s no bull. But listen, Charlo didn’t display any of that angry malcontentedness during the fight or afterwards despite being denied his rightful victory and was damn near relieved of all three belts to a guy who struggled to make the finish line.

        What DA?!? 🤯


        • #5
          Judge Vazquez smartly defends his appropriate 117–111 score, the only one of three for which the actual winner (and the better fighter) was rewarded: “It was a close fight, but in the sense that there were a lot of close rounds, and that is always a matter of appreciation. A judge can see an assault in one way, and another in another. Judging a fight is very different from seeing it as a fan. As a fan one can be chatting with friends, or drinking, while as a judge one has to be completely focused at all times.” 🤔

          Yes sir. 👍


          • #6
            Paul Magno wrote that although 117-111 for Charlo was a bad score, 117-111 the other way would have been just as bad.

            Makes sense to me.

            I maintain that the only way to effectively score a fight off the TV is with the sound off.


            • #7
              Agree with the mute button not the sentiments of Paul Mango.

              I used to think it too important to be able to hear the punch impacts in the ring to ever consider muting a broadcast to score a fight but the announcers and the TV judge make it so you gotta mute them out and let your eyes see what the fight is doing to the combatants and what it’s causing them not to do.

              Nothing wrong with Vazquez’s score.

              He judged the fight.


              • #8
                I’m not sure who fills your prescriptions. But there is NO WAY you can make a case for Castano winning less than 6 and certainly no way you can make a case for Charlo winning 8. NO WAY IN HELL!


                • #9
                  I did make the case. ☝️

                  You’re the one carrying on boogie-woogie on a Sunday morning.