Brian Carlos Castano 15 (11 KOs)-0-0 looks to retain his undefeated record and WBA World Super-Welterweight title against Cuban veteran Erislandy Lara 25 (14 KOs)-3 (0 KOs)-2 at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn on Showtime this Saturday.
In this crazy sport that is boxing some fighters turn out to be fan favourites. Whether due to their exciting style in the ring, trash talking outside the ring or simply the ability to make the public believe, names such as: Amir Khan, David Price, Adrien Broner and Derek Chisora have made a career out of being in the last chance saloon only to be brought back for one final last chance a year or so later. Other fighters aren’t quite so lucky, and always seem to need a dance partner to bring the best out of them, Erislandy Lara is one of those fighters.
Lara at 35 has been round the block, fighting big names such as Austin Trout, Paul Williams, Jarrett Hurd and most notably Canelo, but has never really been one to capture the eye of the boxing fan by himself. This is less to do with how he matches up against top opposition and more to do how he deals with fighters who are simply put beneath him. At his best he can make for a very enthralling watch, the Canelo fight for instance was a great clash of styles, but Lara does seem to fight within himself, happy with getting wide decisions and not pressing the action against fighters he could and perhaps should be getting rid of.
If you don’t know what the stereotypical “Cuban School” style is Lara is the best example. A slick southpaw with a solid jab, a sniper like left hand, and foot movement that prioritises maintaining a gap rather than finding ways to get on the inside. In truth no fighter has managed to hang with Lara in the opening stanzas when he is juiced up and ready to go, even Canelo was eating left hand after left hand in the first three rounds. A trademark Lara move is to throw the left and a quick L step to the changing the angle.
The way that Lara has always been unsettled is when he slows down. As opposed to fighters such as Canelo who is comfortable defending on the inside Lara’s defence is his feet. He can slip punches on occasions, but it is his feet that keep him at his correct range and doing this for the full 12 is tiring when you are 25 let alone 35 and it is this fact that Castano should look to exploit, just as Jarrett Hurd did in Lara’s most recent outing.
Castano despite beating Errol Spence in the amateurs with 15 wins and no losses is untested in the pro ranks, and Lara will definitely be a step up in competition. On watching some of his fights I have to say that his style does look tailor made for Lara. At 5 foot 6 he is short for the weight and Lara will have a huge reach advantage, add in slow feet and punching power that isn’t anything special the only way I can see Castano coming away with the win is if he employs the same tactics as Hurd does, and if Lara isn’t nearly the same fighter that he was a year ago. The reason however I don’t think that Castano will have this success is Castano’s physical attributes. From the outset in the Hurd fight, it looked like Hurd simply accepted that he was going to have to take the steam out of Lara by simply taking punches on the inside, and it was his physical strength as well as his chin that allowed him to bully Lara and take out his sting. Castano doesn’t possess the size of Hurd or potentially even his chin and thus should find it hard to get past the left from Lara, which does hurt.
If you like your betting, I’d put your money on a Lara points victory in another relatively dull fight for the Cuban who should be, even at 35 too fast and too slick for Castano. If Lara does win the fight it gives him the WBA World Super-Welterweight title the junior belt below Hurd’s Super World title. If that rematch does take place it would be a very nice way to round of a career that in hindsight has perhaps been underappreciated, in that a fighter who shows huge skills and a willingness to take on any fighter is a rare thing in this sport.
On the undercard heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz 30 (26 KOs)-1 (1 KOs)-0 squares off against Christian Hammer 24 (14 KOs)-5 (3 KOs)-0 in a scheduled 10 rounder.