SAN ANTONIO — Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano aim to put their names in the record books on Saturday night as one will become the undisputed junior middleweight champion. Charlo enters the bout as a -260 favorite, according to Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.
The winner will join Josh Taylor, Teofimo Lopez, Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, Terence Crawford and Oleksandr Usyk as undisputed champions in the four-belt era.
Charlo (34-1), the current WBC, WBA and IBF titleholder, earned his gold with wins over Jeison Rosario last September and Tony Harrison in December 2019. Castano (17-0-1) beat Patrick Teixeira in February to win the WBO strap.
The PBC-promoted fight will be broadcast on Showtime with the three-bout main card beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
The other title fight on the card features Rolando Romero defending his WBA interim lightweight title against Anthony Yigit. The undefeated Romero (13-0) beat Jackson Martinez in August to win the title. Yigit (24-1-1) is making his first appearance since June 2019.
Follow along throughout the night as we provide results and analysis for every fight on the card.
Middleweights: Amilcar Vidal def. Immanuwel Aleem by majority decision
Judges scored the fight 97-93, 97-93, 95-95. Full recap to come.
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.
Still to come:
Title fight: Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castano, 12 rounds, for Charlo’s IBF, WBC and WBA junior middleweight titles and Castano’s WBO junior middleweight title