SAN ANTONIO — Brian Castano appeared to clearly topple Jermell Charlo to claim the undisputed 154-pound championship in an upset, but two judges disagreed, delivering a controversial split draw Saturday night at AT&T Center.
One judge scored it 114-114, while another scored it 114-113 for Castano; a third judge turned in a head-scratching 117-111 tally in favor of Charlo.
Charlo, who is from Houston, was cheered vociferously throughout the 12-round fight, but it was Castano who was applauded in the end.
“I won the fight definitely,” Castano said through a translator. Then he laid out what he wants in plain English: “I hope there’s a rematch. He’s a great fighter. I want the rematch.”
Charlo, of course, disagreed. He appeared to be conceding rounds to the hard-charging Castano before he landed a fight-altering shot in Round 10 that sent the Argentine reeling for the remainder of the frame.
The three-belt champion swept the final three rounds on all three scorecards to pull out the draw and retain his status as unified champion. Castano remains a 154-pound titleholder as well.
“The draw wasn’t what I wanted to hear,” Charlo said. “I thought I won this fight. … Brian Castano is a tough warrior.”
Romero continues to rise with seventh-round TKO of Yigit
Rolando Romero remained undefeated with a seventh-round TKO of Anthony Yigit on Saturday night to retain his interim WBA lightweight title.
The 25-year-old Romero floored Yigit with a three-punch combination in Round 7 and then finished off Yigit moments later with a right cross followed by a smashing left hook. Referee Rafael Ramos waved it off without a count at 1:54.
Romero is quickly growing into his role as a heel — and embracing it with his rough-and-tumble style and penchant for trash talking, which elicited boos from the crowd as he leaped onto the turnbuckle to celebrate the victory. It was his 12th knockout in 14 fights (all wins).
“I want Gervonta Davis … I’m ready for him,” said Romero, who, like Davis, is promoted by Floyd Mayweather. “I’m trying to stop him and knock him out. … I know what I can do.”
Romero, a Las Vegas native, appears to be on the cusp of a meaningful fight in the star-studded 135-pound division, whether it materializes against Davis or someone else.
He was deducted one point toward the end of Round 5 for hitting on the break, then immediately rendered that penalty moot by scoring a knockdown of Yigit.
Yigit, who hails from Sweden, accepted the fight on short notice after Austin Dulay withdrew. A former title challenger at 140 pounds, Yigit weighed 140.2 at Friday’s weigh-in and was ineligible to win the 135-pound belt.
Vidal defeats Aleem by majority decision
Amilcar Vidal and Immanuwel Aleem slugged it out over 10 rounds in one of the best action fights of the year to open the televised Showtime tripleheader.
Vidal (13-0, 11 KOs), of Montevideo, Uruguay, won over the judges with his superior body punching, particularly a left hook with which the 25-year-old hammered Aleem of Richmond, Virginia, repeatedly to set up his chopping right hand over the top.
The middleweights stood toe-to-toe and traded haymakers, round after round, in an attempt, seemingly, to outwill one another. They threw a combined 1,218 punches, per CompuBox, and connected on 351 power shots.
One judge scored it even, 95-95, overruled by tallies of 97-93 and 97-93, which handed Vidal the majority decision victory.
“In 12 fights that he had, he didn’t learn what he learned in 10 rounds tonight,” said Vidal’s manager, Sampson Lewkowicz, who also hails from Uruguay. “I would love an undefeated guy [for his next opponent]. He’s ready for a contender.”
Vidal, who suffered a cut under his left eye, will likely return in October or November, per Lewkowicz.
Murtazaliev takes care of business in decision win
If Bakhram Murtazaliev was looking to impress ahead of a potential title shot against Jermell Charlo, he failed. What he did accomplish was far more important: maintaining his status as Charlo’s mandatory challenger.
The 28-year-old outpointed Khiary Gray (16-6, 12 KOs) over eight rounds to earn a unanimous decision, via scores of 79-73, 78-74 and 79-73.
This was Murtazaliev’s second consecutive fight on Charlo’s undercard, and for the second time, Murtazaliev was hurt in the bout.
Worcester, Massachusetts’ Gray, who otherwise sustained a beating, stunned Murtazaliev in Round 3, before Murtazaliev landed a low blow that bought him some time to recover. Both fighters competed with bloody faces, but Gray, 28, endured the worse of it, with blood spewing from his nose and mouth.
Kathy Duva promotes the Russian fighter Murtazaliev, who currently fights out of Oxnard, California, and Duva worked out a step-aside deal with Premier Boxing Champions to allow Charlo to unify with Castano and delay the mandatory defense, the Main Events CEO told ESPN.
The agreement included another appearance on a Charlo undercard after Murtazaliev (19-0, 14 KOs) competed underneath Charlo-Jeison Rosario in September. Duva said a deal is in place for Murtazaliev to fight Charlo, but there’s no time frame for the bout.
Charlo, of course, holds three 154-pound titles; there’s a rotation in place between the organizations to determine which mandatory defense is next. Duva claims the IBF, where her fight is rated No. 1, is next in line.
“He wants to fight Charlo, of course he does,” Duva said of Murtazaliev. “I think tonight he’s frustrated; he wanted to knock the guy out, and he got too anxious. He took too many shots. Hopefully, this is a good learning experience. You sure can’t take shots like that in a more competitive fight. But in a more competitive fight, he’d be a lot more careful.”
Murtazaliev is managed by Egis Klimas, who also has Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk in his stable. Murtazaliev is trained by Virgil Hunter, best known for his work with Boxing Hall of Famer Andre Ward.
Rubio remains unbeaten with decision win over Manriquez
Pablo Rubio Jr. pounded out a six-round unanimous decision over Eric Manriquez, scoring two knockdowns in the final round to close out strong in their junior lightweight fight.
Rubio (13-0, 4 KOs) boxed and moved for the majority of the bout, before stunning Manriquez — who hails from Bryan Texas — at the end of the fifth. Rubio, who is managed by Sampson Lewkowicz, hails from Los Angeles.
Medina rolls with first-round KO
Amed Medina of Los Angeles improved to 3-0 with three knockouts, earning a first-round TKO of Reginald Hinson. The 18-year-old Medina was making his U.S. debut after two fights in Mexico.
Medina, a featherweight, floored Hinson, who’s from Rock Hill, South Carolina, with a left hook that Hinson never recovered from. Hinson (1-1, 0 KOs) made it back to his feet but was in no shape to continue, and the referee waved it off at 2:03 of the opening round.
Heavyweight Zavala registers KO over West
Robert Zavala Jr., a heavyweight fighting out of Del Rio, Texas, remained unbeaten with a third-round KO of Levi West.
Zavala (2-0, 2 KOs) dropped West in Round 2 and then finished him off in Round 3 by sending him through the ropes. Zavala enjoyed a 55-pound weight advantage, tipping the scales at 254, while West came in as a cruiserweight at 199.2 pounds.
West, who is from San Antonio, twice spit out his mouthpiece to buy time.
The fight was called off at 1:49 of Round 3.
Nunez KOs Alfaro to open the night
Junior lightweight Xavier Nunez kicked off the untelevised portion of Saturday’s Charlo-Castano card with a fourth-round stoppage of David Alfaro in a battle of Texans.
Nunez laid a beating on Alfaro, bloodying his nose, and improved to 2-0 with 2 KOs in the 130-pound bout.
Alfaro falls to 1-5 with no knockouts.