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Erislandy Lara-Brian Castano set for March 2 in Brooklyn, Luis Ortiz-Christian Hammer supports

Lara (right) at war with Jarrett Hurd in a Fight of the Year candidate.
Fighters Network

A lot is at stake for Erislandy Lara and Brian Castano in a crossroads clash on Mar. 2.

The 12-round junior middleweight bout will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Showtime will broadcast the fight live (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

Lara will be returning to the ring for the first time since a split-decision loss to Jarrett Hurd on Apr. 7. Hurd scored a knockdown during the final round of the unification fight, which was one of the top action fights of 2018.

Lara (25-3-2, 14 knockouts), who lost the WBA title to Hurd, needed several weeks to recover from bruising and a cut over his right eye.

Although he’s 35, an impressive victory over Castano could give Lara an opportunity to rematch Hurd or fight another world titleholder at 154 pounds.

“Brian Castano is a young, undefeated champion with a strong amateur pedigree,” said Lara, who is originally from Guantanamo, Cuba, and now resides in Houston. “I look forward to being in the ring with him and putting on a great fight for the fans. I can’t wait to be crowned world champion again.”

Castano (15-0, 11 KOs) has been out of the ring longer than Lara. Castano has not fought since Mar. 10, when he stopped Cedric Vitu in round 12. The Buenos Aries native’s most notable win is was a 12-round split decision victory over contender Michel Soro in July 2017.

The 29-year-old Castano knows he will be the underdog against Lara, but he believes his youth and aggression will be the keys to success on fight night.

“I’m thrilled to be facing Lara as he was a great champion and still one of the best fighters out there,” said Castano. “Obviously this is the most important fight of my career and I know it will be difficult because of his experience.

“I have my own experience however, and I’m willing to prove that I belong with the best in the division. I know he will get on his bike and move around the ring, but I have the strength to knock him off.”

Promoter Lou DiBella believes this crossroads bout can go either way.

“Erislandy Lara is one of the most talented junior middleweights in the world,” said DiBella. “Brian Castano is not yet a household name. He was a world renowned amateur and is undefeated as a pro. This is a must-win fight for Lara and Castano’s chance to establish himself as one boxing’s rising stars.”

Lara is ranked No. 2 by The Ring, while Castano is ranked at No. 6.

In the co-feature, heavyweight Luis Ortiz will square off against Christian Hammer in a 10-round bout.

Ortiz (30-1, 26 KOs) will be fighting for the first time at the Barclays Center since a knockout loss to WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder on Mar. 3. The southpaw Ortiz had Wilder hurt in rounds seven and eight before Wilder ended matters in Round 10.

The 39-year-old Ortiz returned to the ring on July 28, knocking out Razvan Cojanu in the second round. In his last bout on Dec. 1, Ortiz dropped fringe contender Travis Kauffman three times en route to a 10th round knockout win.

“Come March 2, I’m hammering my way past (Christian Hammer) and setting up a clash with the winner of Wilder-Tyson Fury II or Anthony Joshua,” said Ortiz.

In his last bout on Dec. 15, Hammer (24-5, 14 KOs) knocked out Michael Wallisch in the fifth round. The Hamburg resident also has wins over Sherman Williams, Erkan Teper and David Price.

Hammer’s most notable bouts were a knockout loss to Tyson Fury in 2015 and a decision loss to Alexander Povetkin in December 2017.

In the opening bout of the Showtime telecast, Edner Cherry will face Panama’s Ricardo Nunez in a 12-round bout.

Cherry (37-7-2, 19 KOs), who is ranked No. 6 by the WBC, has won his last three bouts since a disputed split-decision draw to Jose Pedraza in October 2015.

Nunez (20-2, 18 KOs), who has won his nine bouts, knocked out Elvis Torres in his last bout on June 23. He is ranked No. 2 by the WBA and No. 10 by the WBC.


Francisco A. Salazar has written for since October 2013. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing


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