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Same Sad Song, Same Silly Dance: Bad Judging Mars Charlo-Castano Fight

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It shouldn’t be like this. We should have been chattering about the fight itself, which was good, not the classic that narrative drivers would have you think. We should have been reasonably content, because we were getting a “best fighting the best” situation, and the Jermell Charlo v Brian Castano junior middleweight showdown in San Antonio on July 17, 2021 was NOT offered on a Pay Per View basis, which is grounds for a fist pump to self, if not a fuller ceremony involving confetti. But nooooooooo…

After Jimmy Lennon told the crowd at AT&T Center in Texas, and those watching on screens that the judges had voted, and deemed the title unification scrap a draw.

Booooooooo….

Brian Castano v Jermell Charlo fight announced as a split draw.

Jermell’s face says..something about the fight he just had with Castano. (Photo by Amanda Westcott)

I admit, I got a little Teddy Atlas-y. My forehead vein wasn’t bulging, it was a composed ire, but you can see the Tweets, I was irked. Because it happened again. Like it happens every week or two…The scorecard turned in by a judge, in this case Nelson Vazquez of Puerto Rico, bore little to no resemblance to the fight we all just saw.

Now, I am not in the Atlas camp, usually, regarding bad judging. I hate it, but because I’ve seen it for so long, forever, really, I’d reached a certain level of acceptance. Resignation, probably, is the better term, actually.

“It is what it is, people are fallible, and this is boxing, bro,” I’d whisper to myself after every judge fail. Often, I’d be consoling myself that hey, at least two of the three arbiters got it right, so as long as we got the right outcome, it’s not the biggest deal that another clown showed up to the party, and dosed the punch bowl with bad acid and then capped off the effort by shitting in said punch-bowl at midnight.

But fuck that response.

No. No more.

Yesterday it was Nelson Vazquez, and it will be someone else next week, or the week after, and the clamor will die out, and in a week, month or six months, almost nobody but Brian Castano and his team will recall that Vazquez’ eyesight issues, or whatever the fuck it was, prevented the Argentine from having his hand raised, and leaving Texas with all the 154 straps.

Brian Castano lands the hook on Jermell Charlo, who spent too much time on the ropes on July 17, 2021.

It was a close fight, could have gone either way. The scorecards from Steve Weisfeld and Tim Cheatham reflected that. The one from Nelson Vasquez didn’t. (Photo by Amanda Westcott)

I have one or two ideas on how to at least address the issue, and have already communicated to one power player with heavy influence the idea, which has been suggested by people wiser than me for many moons. I will stay on it, too, I won’t let the anger-disgust-resignation mode prevail.

So no, I won’t be offering up a play by play of the fight. I won’t tell you all what happened, from my standpoint, because if we are talking big picture, it’s not as important as moving this persistent and prevailing matter to the front of the line on things that must be addressed to help this challenged sport find some direction that will improve it.

Should we work on making it more fair, more transparent, and less maddening?

Or should we just keep spinning our wheels, and letting the credibility we do have, which mostly consists of the earned reverence for the athletes who put lives on the line, erode?

That’s no longer a rhetorical question, friends. Because doing this to the audience, again and again and again and again tells them we don’t really care about offering a product that is fully functional.

Think I’m over-stating things? Ask around, take a look for yourself. Every time this happens, I see long time fans speaking up on social media, admitting that this part of being a boxing fan is so off-putting, they are over it.

No mas, they say, it’s too frustrating being a boxing fan.

Here is the release sent out by the Showtime gang after the three-bout Showtime offering finished:

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (July 18, 2021) – In an epic battle between two of boxing’s elite, WBA, WBC and IBF Super Welterweight World Champion Jermell Charlo and WBO counterpart Brian Castaño battled to a 12-round split decision draw in the main event of action live on SHOWTIME from AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Both Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KOs) and Castaño (17-0-2, 12 KOs) laid it all on the line in their quest to become the first ever undisputed 154-pound champion in the four-belt era.

“Shout out to San Antonio for coming through. The win is what I wanted to hear,” said Charlo. “I won this fight. I hurt him way more than he did to me. Castaño is a real warrior. But my power is serious at this weight division.”

“I won the fight,” said Castaño. “There were some rounds that he did hit me and he hit me hard. But I won this fight. I want to thank San Antonio. I want to thank SHOWTIME and Al Haymon for this fight. It was a great opportunity.”

Castano deserved better. They all do, anyone that steps in to the ring and risks their life. (Photo by Amanda Westcott)

Both champions flashed their power early on. Castaño was staggered by a counter left hook in the second. He returned the favor in the third, buckling Charlo with his own left hook toward the end of the frame.

Houston’s Charlo found success in the middle rounds by boxing and moving from the outside. Castaño was just as effective when he was able to maneuver Charlo toward the ropes and unload rapid-fire combinations. The Argentine kept Charlo on the defensive for much of the ninth, focusing his attack to the body.

Immediately after that round, Charlo trainer Derrick James implored his fighter to pick up the pace. Charlo responded with his best round in the 10th, bouncing off the ropes with a left hook that left Castaño on shaky legs for much of the stanza. In the penultimate round, Charlo picked up where he left off, landing more big shots on a tentative Castaño.

“My coach told me I needed the knockout in the ninth round and I just knew he knew what he was talking about,” said Charlo. “I trust my coach. This comes with boxing – wins, losses and draws.”

“I was hurt in the 10th round and I had to recoup,” said Castaño. “Same with the beginning of the 11th round. But I did enough to win this fight. I hope I get the rematch. He is a great fighter. I need the rematch.”

With the fight hanging in the balance, both fighters let their hands go in the final round. According to CompuBox, Charlo landed 151 of 533 (28.3%) punches in the fight to Castaño’s 173 of 586 (29.5%). Castaño 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 Castaño’s nine out of 186 (4.8%).

After 12 rounds the judge’s scores were split, with a score of 117-111 for Charlo, 114-113 for Castaño and a 114-114 draw, ending the fight in a split-decision draw.

“He threw a hell of a lot of punches. My skills and my ability and my power – I felt like I won this fight and I deserve to be going home undisputed,” said Charlo. “I am glad to have fought for undisputed. It’s different. I still hold my titles. I can’t wait to get home to my babies, take a break from boxing and then get back to the drawing board and see what’s next. I want to be undisputed. That’s what I want. That’s my destiny.”

In the co-main event, Rolando “Rolly” Romero (14-0, 12 KOs) delivered another impressive knockout, flooring Anthony Yigit (24-2-1, 8 KOs) three times on his way to a seventh-round TKO victory to retain his WBA Interim World Lightweight Title.

Romero controlled the action throughout, punishing southpaw Yigit to the head and body.

“I won’t rate my performance but I got a vicious knockout and I hurt him multiple times in the fight. Every time I landed something, I hurt him,” said Romero. “The European style is always awkward and he was a bigger dude. He’s a 140-pounder. If I had those extra five pounds, I would have got him out of there earlier.”

Rolly gets hammered good on social, but hey, he wins, right? Yes, he wins “ugly,” but Boxrec doesn’t give style points. (Amanda Westcott photo)

“I knew he was going to come in strong and kind of force it,” said Yigit. “So, I tried to pace myself at the beginning to see where I had him. He was very aggressive and he knew how to utilize all his strengths. Fair play to him.”

The first knockdown occurred in the fifth when, immediately after having a point deducted for hitting on the break, Romero sent Yigit crumpling to the canvas with a short right to the temple. Yigit rose to his feet on wobbly legs and was saved by a bell that rang moments later.

“He was hurt [in the fifth] but the bell rang so I didn’t have time to finish him,” said Romero. “If I had that extra time, I would have got him. He was holding, he didn’t really want to engage because he was really hurt. He was scared.”

Yigit ate more bombs in the sixth but couldn’t withstand them in the seventh as Romero dropped him, this time with a three punch-combination. Romero pounced once Yigit rose, unleashing volleys until a left hook floored Yigit a third time, forcing referee Rafael Ramos to halt the action at 1:54 of the seventh round.

“I wouldn’t mind doing it again,” said Yigit. “He was a tough opponent and I liked the fight we were having. There is some kind of mutual respect in the ring and I felt that from him. So, it felt great knowing that I went in the ring and we respected each other and gave it the best we had.”

“The punches he landed clean, I saw them coming,” said Romero.” I have to work on more combinations. I had a bad camp – at the beginning I hurt both of my ankles and my right hand. I was in a car accident a week and a half ago. My body was still sore from that yet I still took the fight.

“I need to go to 140. It’s my natural weight class. I feel I’ll be a lot stronger. I was at 135 for, what, four years now? It’s about time I move up.”

In the televised opener on SHOWTIME, Amilcar Vidal Jr. (13-0, 11 KOs) remained unbeaten with a thrilling 10-round majority decision over a determined Immanuwel Aleem.

Aleem believes he was not done right by the judging in this fight. (Photo by Amanda Westcott)

“I thought that was in my favor,” Aleem said. “I didn’t feel like he won seven rounds. I expected him to be strong but when we fought on the inside in the later rounds, I thought I won those. When I was moving early on, I didn’t think he had anything on me. I thought I won the later rounds too. If we can, I’d love to run it back.”

“It was a great fight against a really tough opponent, but the fruits of my labor alongside my brother during training camp paid off and I never lost my cool,” said Vidal. “I believe I was a fair winner, but I am not here to argue about the score. I may have lost my way in a couple of rounds, but I regained control of the fight and I have as much as I took.”

After a feel-out first round, both fighters began letting their hands go in the second as Aleem (18-3-2, 11 KOs) peppered Vidal with jabs from the outside and Vidal bore in with heavy shots to the head and body.

Uruguay’s Vidal enjoyed his best round in the sixth, trapping Aleem along the ropes and landing a left hook to the ribs that caused the Richmond, Virginia native to double over in pain. Two more rights snapped Aleem’s head back moments before the bell sounded.

Just when it appeared Vidal had seized control, Aleem roared back in the seventh, keeping the fight at a distance and landing combinations. Aleem enjoyed an even better eighth, momentarily staggering Vidal with a left hook. The see-saw action continued over the final two rounds, both giving as good as they got as the crowd roared their appreciation. In the end, one judge had it even at 95-95, while the two other saw it in favor of Vidal by scores of 97-93.

“Like I told you before the press conference, it’s about going step by step,” said Vidal. “We took a major one tonight, and now my promoter will let me know what’s next. I’ll be ready. Uruguay can rest easy knowing Amilcar Vidal is here to stay.”

Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will replay Sunday, July 18 at 9 a.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME and Tuesday, July 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME Extreme.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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