IN an entertaining and very competitive fight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night (March 2), Cuban southpaw Erislandy Lara fought to a split 12-round draw with undefeated Argentine Brian Castano.
Despite losing his last bout – a split points defeat to Jarrett Hurd in a thrilling unification clash 11 month ago – former WBA super-welterweight champion Lara came into the Castano contest as the betting favourite. The fresher South American, though, was considered a live underdog, based on the fact that he had scored some impressive results prior to turning pro, as well as a couple of solid victories in his two most recent outings – both away from home.
Generally known as a slick and crafty counter-puncher, the 35-year-old Lara – a highly accomplished amateur in his day – had been forced into a firefight by Hurd in their all-action encounter last year. The come-forward Castano – a stocky and rugged aggressor – attempted to drag his Houston-based opponent into a similar slugfest, though Lara wisely tried to keep things long by making use of his sharp jab and intelligent movement.
Lara controlled the distance early on, but by the quarter-way mark, the rough-and-ready Castano had begun to make inroads by bustling in and targeting his rival’s body with fierce combinations.
Sporting a swollen right eye by the fourth frame, Lara found himself frequently being backed up by his energetic 29-year-old foe as the bout reached its middle point. However, the seasoned veteran – as game as he is skilful – picked up the pace soon after, as piercing lefts stung Castano and pushed him back.
The ever-shifting momentum seemed to swing Castano’s way again in the closing sessions, with his vicious assaults to the midsection proving particularly effective. Both men left it all in the ring in an exciting final round, leading each to think that they had done enough to triumph. In the end, though, the judges could not agree on a winner, as scores of 114-114 and 115-113 both ways saw Castano retain his secondary WBA super-welter strap on a tie.
Afterwards, Castano stated that he would be happy to go again, saying: “If he wants the rematch, I’ll give him the rematch. I think it was a good fight – a good clash of styles – but I won. I know I won. I landed more punches [195 to 130].”
Lara, unsurprisingly, did not agree with Castano’s assessment of the contest. He said: “I saw myself winning eight rounds. My punches were more effective. He did have pressure, but I was dominating the pressure. I’ll fight him again.”