CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Jermell Charlo became the first undisputed super welterweight champion in the four-belt era when he stopped Argentina’s Brian Castaño in the 10th round of their rematch Saturday night.
After an outstanding bout with ample toe-to-toe action, Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) dropped Castaño twice in rapid succession in the 10th. Charlo leaped onto the ropes in celebration while the referee was still counting out his opponent, celebrating the addition of Castaño’s WBO 154-pound title to his WBC, WBA and IBF belts.
Charlo survived several impressive early rounds by Castaño (17-1-2) in the rematch of the fighters’ split draw 10 months ago in Texas. Charlo is only the seventh fighter to simultaneously hold every major title in any weight class since the four-belt era began in 1988.
Charlo, the Houston native and twin brother of middleweight champ Jermall Charlo, executed a tactical, counterpunching game plan impressively under a nearly full moon at Dignity Health Sports Park, the famed outdoor stadium south of downtown Los Angeles.
Castaño’s aggression and Charlo’s sharp responses led to big exchanges in almost every round, highlighted by a sensational fifth round of relentless action. Castaño’s early pace slowed in the middle rounds, and Charlo ended it in dramatic fashion at 2:33 of the 10th.
After catching Castaño with a right uppercut and a left hook for the first knockdown, Charlo dropped Castaño again seconds later with two left hands to the head and a left to the body, leaving Castaño on the canvas.
After unbeaten Philadelphia welterweight Jaron Ennis stopped Custio Clayton with a vicious right hand in the second round of the show’s penultimate bout, the main event was slightly delayed because Castaño showed up late to the arena, according to the fight’s promoters.
Traffic and parking were terrible around the sports complex, which hosted a match for Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy at the same time as the fight card in the tennis arena that shares the property with the soccer stadium, but it wasn’t clear whether that was the reason Castaño was tardy.
Both fighters came out eager for exchanges, with Castaño again pressing forward and Charlo counterpunching adroitly. Charlo was sharp off the ropes, but Castaño got the better of him in back-and-forth action during a thrilling fourth round.
The fifth round was even better, with devastating shots thrown by both fighters. Charlo then buckled Castaño’s knees with a huge left hand in the seventh, but Charlo curiously didn’t move in to pursue a finish.
Turns out Charlo had a better plan after all.
Charlo’s victory is a landmark moment in the history of top fighters between middleweight and welterweight.
The 154-pound division was created in 1962, and talents ranging from Thomas Hearns and Terry Norris to Felix Trinidad and Winky Wright have excelled at the weight. But no boxer had held every major title at super welterweight since the WBO formed and inaugurated the four-belt championship era in 1988.
Charlo won his first version of a 154-pound title in 2013, and he claimed the WBC belt in May 2016. He lost it to Tony Harrison in December 2018, but reclaimed it with a knockout victory in the rematch and swiftly added the WBA and IBF belts by stopping Jeison Rosario in September 2020.
Castaño has carved out an impressive career fighting out of Buenos Aires, although he has trained in Los Angeles since January. He held versions of the WBA 154-pound title for three years before claiming the WBO strap last year.
Castaño got agonizingly close to an impressive upset in his first meeting with Charlo last July. Despite his disadvantages in height and reach, Castaño pressed forward constantly and forced Charlo into less-attractive counterpunching.
But the judges couldn’t decide, with one scoring it for each fighter and the third seeing a draw. No belts changed hands, and the fighters scheduled a rematch for February — but Castaño tore his biceps muscle and required a postponement.
Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs) underlined his status as an elite welterweight with a violent victory in a meeting of unbeaten contenders. Clayton (19-1-1) went down in a heap after the chopping right hand from Ennis, and the Canadian stood on wobbly legs before the bout was waved off.
“I keep telling y’all every single time: We’re in and out like a robbery,” Ennis said. “We don’t get paid for overtime.”
After an impressive California debut, the 24-year-old Ennis is waiting for an opportunity take on elite welterweights like Errol Spence Jr., who attended this bout.
More AP boxing: https://apnews.com/hub/boxing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports