Saturday, April 01, 2023  |


Vet Lenin Castillo to meet Callum Smith on Joshua-Usyk undercard

Fighters Network

Former light heavyweight world title challenger Lenin Castillo will face come-backing Callum Smith in a 12-round scheduled contest on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk promotion at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London on Saturday.

For Smith (27-1, 19 KOs), it will be the former Ring and WBA super middleweight titleholder’s first fight since losing his straps to Canelo Alvarez last December, and his first outing at 175.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for my career,” Castillo (21-3-1, 16 KOs) told The Ring through Fernando Gaztambide. “Beating someone of Smith’s caliber puts me at the top of the division.”

A pro since 2010, Castillo has had difficulty getting over the hump in step-up fights.

The 33-year-old Dominican fighter, who works part time at the family butcher shop, is respectful of what Smith brings to the table but appears confident in upsetting the talented British fighter.

“He boxes very well, although we didn’t see that against Canelo [Alvarez],” Castillo said. “He has beaten good names.

“I think I have better shots than him. I have more power and my jab is better, so we will try to work hard on that. Victory will be mine.”

Castillo is just one fight removed from his own world title fight against WBA ruler Dmitry Bivol in October 2019.

He feels that was a good learning curve activity, one that will serve him well against Smith.

“Everyone thought that Bivol would knock me out,” he said. “At the end of the fight they thought that if I had done this or that, I could have got the victory. That gives me the confidence that I am among the best in the division, even if they do not see it that way.”

Ahead of his big opportunity, Castillo, who represented his country at the 2008 Olympics, has trained at the Billy Thompson club, in Santo Domingo, before heading to Puerto Rico for sparring.

Raul Pastrana of Spartan Boxing, who handles Castillo, feels his fighter has improved over the past couple of years.

“Lenin has the tools to shine and perform in high fashion,” said Pastrana. “Lenin can box and can punch. This scenario fits perfect for him. I think we haven’t seen the best of Lenin and the best is yet to come. He’s ready to make a statement at 175-pounds. He will shock the world.”

Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) won the British and European super middleweight titles in impressive fashion and got his big break in the World Boxing Super Series. He defeated Erik Skoglund (UD 12 in 2017) and late substitute Nieky Holzken (UD 12 in 2018) to earn safe passage to the final where in September 2018 he stopped George Groves (KO 7) to become The Ring Magazine 168-pound champion and WBA titleholder. The 31-year-old struggled to capitalize on that momentum, easily defeating the undersized Hassan N’dam N’Jikam (TKO 3) and laboring against John Ryder (UD 12) in subsequent title defenses, in 2019, before he was soundly beaten by Canelo (UD 12) on Dec. 19, 2020.

Joshua-Usyk along with a full undercard will be broadcast on DAZN, starting at 2:00 p.m. ET/ 11:00 a.m. PT and on Sky Sports Box Office in the U.K. at 7 p.m.

Contact Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright