Brian Castano v Erislandy Lara
Lara challenges Castano for his 154lb WBA title in Brooklyn, New York.
Neither fighter will have fought for almost a year when this one comes around. Lara is coming off a points loss against Hurd in a tough battle, whereas Castano knocked out Vitu in the 12th in a fight he dominated.
Lara (25-3-2, 14 ko's) is a tricky customer who is tried and tested at world level. It makes sense for him to be favourite, but a 1.33 favourite? Not so much. His last fight was a blood and guts affair. One in which he was dropped in the 12th round. You could argue he's been unlucky, but he's been involved in three big fights and managed to lose them all. They were a majority loss to Paul Williams, a split loss to Saul Alvarez, and a split loss against Hurd.
Castano (15-0, 11 ko's) is a fun fighter to watch. He's stepped up his level of competition massively in his last two fights, beating Frenchmen Michel Soro and Cedric Vitu, both in France. The Soro win was a split decision. I think he'll have learned a lot from that fight and it showed against Vitu. Vitu isn't a bad fighter at all, yet he lost comfortably. Castano is from Argentina, but has fought on US soil a number of times already.
As an amateur he held an incredible record of 181-5-5, beating the likes of Errol Spence along the way. Impressive. Before turning pro he took part in a tournament that involves fighting five rounds without headgear. He went 3-0 in the series, beating Derevianchenko in the quarter finals. Another stand out scalp.
Lara is almost 36 years old now, and despite his undoubted defensive skills, has taken some damage. He was cut and down in the Hurd fight and was down twice in his fortunate win over Angulo years ago. After a year out, and being highly relient on reflexes and timing, will age and inactivity catch up to him? Castano throws many punches in short burts and holds a high guard until it's his turn to attack. I was impressed with his energy levels and see him as a danger to the end. He's listed as 6'1 on Boxrec, but I don't think that can be right as he doesn't tower over any of his opponents. He's 29 and so should be in his physical prime.
This could be a break out fight for Castano. If he can get past Lara, he could be involved in some exciting matchups. He needs to watch out for the counters from Lara and come back with plenty shots of his own. Lara is a master boxer, but I could see Castano out working him. Castano has a high work rate and so needs to exploit Lara's age and make him feel uncomfortable. He'll need to take care of each round as it comes and push to the end. I expect a decent battle and a split decision or majority decision for either man.