CARSON, Calif. — Jermell Charlo knew well the hellacious pressure he’d need to endure to defeat rugged Argentinian Brian Castano.
So Charlo answered Saturday night with deep resolve, responding forcefully to nearly every battering blow from his fellow champion until he weakened and then finished Castano by knockout in the 10th round.
The victory makes the Houston fighter the undisputed, four-belt champion of the 154-pound division.
“It was hard. I wanted to make sure this was my fight,” Charlo said in the ring afterward.
Despite being out-landed 194-173 in total punches and 175-142 in power punches, Charlo was more precise and controlled in his effort while out-jabbing Castano, 31-19, and leading on all three judges’ scorecards in the rematch of their draw 10 months ago.
Judge David Sutherland had it 87-84, Zachary Young’s card was 88-83 and Glenn Feldman had it 89-82 in Charlo’s favor when the three-belt champion went after his crowning finish.
In the 10th, Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) first dropped Castano with a body shot. The pain clearly lingered for the Argentine, and Charlo pounced with a combination of a right hook to the body and a left to the head to floor Castano for good.
“We showed we are warriors,” Castano said. “We were both fighting, back and forth.”
Charlo and Castano fought to a disputed draw 10 months ago in Texas, where judge Nelson Vazquez confounded those who watched the bout by scoring it 117-111 (nine rounds to three) in Charlo’s favor, triggering the tie after the other judges had it 114-113 for Castano and a 114-114 draw.
When asked what was the difference between this fight and that prior, intense clash, Castano said, “He hit me. He got me.”
Charlo follows the recent undisputed claims of current super-middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez and Scotland’s Josh Taylor, who collected all four junior-welterweight belts last year.
“The future’s bright,” Charlo said.
The twin brother of unbeaten WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, Jermell battled heatedly through the remarkably entertaining first half of the fight, particularly in the fifth round, where Castano repeatedly jarred Charlo’s head with power blows.
By the seventh, however, Charlo’s landed shots cooled Castano’s aggression.
“I could see he was wearing down,” Charlo said.
Crediting his trainer Derrick James — the same man who corners unbeaten welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. — Charlo turned to an impressive boxing display to win the eighth and ninth rounds as Castano’s attack was depleting.
Reviewing the highlights of the 10th round, Charlo remarked, “And that was all she wrote. It was over.
“I worked really hard for this one.”
Philadelphia welterweight Jaron “Boots” Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs) used the co-main event to support the theory of some fight-game veterans who project him as a rare talent who will ultimately stand as the sport’s most skilled champion.
After breaking down Canada’s Custio Clayton (19-1-1) with a variety of whipping head shots and damaging punches to the midsection, Ennis backed Clayton to a neutral corner with a flurry of blows before setting him up with multiple jabs and landing an overhand right to the top of Clayton’s head.
Clayton struggled to rise as Ennis danced in a corner, then badly staggered and couldn’t find his footing as the fight was ended 2 minutes, 49 seconds into the round.
“We’re in and out like a robbery,” Ennis cracked. “We don’t get paid for overtime.”
Standing as the International Boxing Federation No. 1 contender to unbeaten three-belt champion Spence, Ennis moved toward the ringside-seated Spence and said, “Anybody can get it. Right now, I’m the No. 1 IBF contender. Mr. Big Fish (Spence’s nickname) is here. It’s time to go fishing.”
Ennis then mimicked casting a fishing line toward Spence and motioned as if he was reeling in a prize catch. Spence, though, has started negotiations to arrange a bout for the undisputed welterweight title against fellow unbeaten Terence Crawford.
In undercard action, super-bantamweight Marlon Tapales (36-3, 19 KOs) of the Philippines knocked out Mexico’s Jose Estrella with a second-round body shot to affirm his No. 1 contender position to face the winner of the June 25 International Boxing Federation/World Boxing Association bout between champion M.J. Akhmadaliev and California’s Ronny Rios.
Another super-bantamweight, Mexico’s Kevin Gonzalez (25-0-1) opened the Showtime broadcast by defeating Puerto Rico’s Emanuel Rivera by unanimous-decision scores of 96-94, 97-93, 98-92.