Erislandy Lara and Brian Castano fight to a draw in Brooklyn
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: March 03, 2019
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, former Junior Middleweight champion Erislandy Lara (25-3-3, 14 KOs) made his return to the squared circle after an almost 11-month absence from the ring. The Cuban fighter faced off against Argentina’s Brian Castano (15-0-1, 11 KOs) for one of the seemingly endless WBA 154-pound titles. At age 35, Lara is no longer the elite mover he was in his prime giving his fights a higher amount of action-packed moments.
The bout began with Lara in control utilizing his jab and straight left hand to keep Castano off of him. In the third and fourth rounds, Castano was able to land body punches and combinations on Lara who used his gloves to pick off many of the punches. Each round followed a similar pattern with Castano gaining an advantage anytime the fight was fought on the inside giving him the opportunity to land his body punches. When the fight was fought on the outside, Lara was able to pick his spots and became somewhat predictable using the same 1-2 combination over and over. The match was filled with many swing rounds that could have been scored for either fighter. Castano may regret letting some rounds slip by him, as he didn’t apply the same level of aggression in each round allowing Lara to rest in spots.
In the final rounds, Castano began to pick up the intensity not allowing Lara to rest and launching a continuous attack on the Cuban. After twelve rounds of action, the judges scored the bout a split decision draw. The scorecards were 115-113 for Lara, 115-113 for Castano and 114-114. A draw was the best scenario for the match as either man could have been awarded the victory by no more than two points. Lara landed 130 out of 825 total punches at a 16 percent connect rate. Castano landed 195 out of 863 punches at a 23 percent connect rate.
The future for Lara will likely be rematches with either Jarrett Hurd or Castano in the near future.
The co-feature bout of the night was a heavyweight match between the self-proclaimed most feared fighter in the division Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs) and perennial contender Christian Hammer (24-6, 14 KOs). The bout began with both men wasting no time as both men landed a fair amount of clean punches in exchanges. In the second round, the Cuban southpaw landed a body shot that visibly hurt Hammer and sent him back to the ropes. While the bout was one-sided in terms of the scoring, Hammer was always a dangerous presence landing the occasional hard right hand.
As the rounds went on Hammer began to fight more on his back foot waiting to land a right-hand counter. Ortiz was aware of Hammer’s strategy and chose to pick his spots landing jabs, straight left hands and body shots at every available opportunity. The match slowed down in the championship rounds as both men’s activity took a dive. After ten rounds all three judges scored the fight in Ortiz’s favor with scores of 100-90 and 99-91 twice.
Ortiz landed 79 out of 160 power punches at a 49 percent connect rate and 140 out of 610 total punches at a 23 percent connect rate. Ortiz is now looking forward to a rematch with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder or to entice WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua into the ring.
Opening the telecast was a featherweight bout between Panama’s Bryan De Gracia (24-2-1, 20 KOs) and Mexico’s Eduardo Ramirez (22-1-3, 9 KOs). The fight started well for Ramirez in the first three rounds, as he was able to use De Gracia’s aggression against him while landing counter punches. In the fourth round, De Gracia turned up his intensity by coming forward more aggressively and throwing a large volume of body punches whenever on the inside.
Rounds five through eight were all largely dominated by De Gracia who seemed to be winning based purely on effort. Ramirez looked content allowing the Panamanian to outwork him while he landed the occasional counter right hand. However, boxing is a sport that plays like chess, not checkers. In the ninth round, Ramirez landed a beautifully timed uppercut while De Gracia advanced putting the Panamanian on unsteady legs. De Gracia did not see the uppercut coming and was bombarded with a barrage of punches from Ramirez forcing referee Benjy Esteves Jr. to put a halt to the bout.
The match was stopped at the 2:10 mark of the ninth round. At the time of the stoppage, two of the three judges had De Gracia ahead with the third judge having the fight a draw.
(Featured Photo: Jose Miranda for Frontproof Media)