Brian Castaño wants to establish himself as household name with a win over Jermell Charlo
A lot has been said about WBO junior middleweight titlist Brian Castaño gaining an edge in his rematch against Ring champion and three-belt titlist Jermell Charlo by forcing the fight to be staged in California rather than in Charlo’s home state of Texas.
It would be an advantage for Castaño, probably. If only more people knew who he is.
“The (first) fight against Charlo was seen by a lot of people, and a lot of them asked themselves ‘yo, who’s this guy?’,” said Castaño, who in spite of having an illustrious amateur and professional career before the July 2021 draw against Charlo in San Antonio was largely unknown to wider audiences. “Many people started watching my old fights after my first bout with Charlo and started following me and sending me messages from all over the world, especially Mexicans and Latinos in general. I know I will have part of the live audience on my side, the Argentine fans and Latinos in general. I expect a good turnout. It is great because it is a plus to have your people rally around you and cheer for you on that night, and especially fighting abroad. I am very happy about that.”
Now, Castaño is one step closer to becoming a known quantity in the boxing world, and he will achieve that goal if he manages to prevail against Charlo in the rematch set for the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, on this Saturday May 14 with all four major belts and the Ring title at stake. But the momentum that both fighters earned in their emotional first bout was somewhat affected by a series of postponements due to a variety of reasons, chief among them a biceps injury that affected Castaño a few months ago.
“Yes, the fight suffered several cancellations and postponements, and the date continued being delayed for different reasons,” said Castaño, 32. “The injury affected me because I was unable to train. It left me training with only one arm, and it breaks your routine. You can’t spar, you can’t work out properly, and I was unable to train for at least a month.”
Adding insult to injury in the most literal of ways, his foe was only too happy to twist the knife into the wound and throwing some extra salt on it for good (or bad) measure.
“What Charlo said (about my injury) really enraged me,” said Castaño about Charlo’s allegations that the injury was faked only to hide other situations. “You try to do your best, and to have your rival say that you’re taking time off to flush out the drugs off your system is a clear indication of the kind of person Charlo is. He loves to talk s–t, and that’s because he is a s–ty person.”
Far from using his injury as an excuse to stop training, Castaño alleges that he trained even harder in spite of his untimely lesion.
“The training camp was very demanding, and I spent four or five months to prepare for the fight, and I was already training hard in Argentina but here in the US unfortunately I suffered that injury during a sparring session and I had to postpone the fight,” said the fighter, who claims that the injury had no adverse effect whatsoever in his preparation for what looms as the biggest challenge in his entire career. “I am going to leave everything in the ring, as usual. As the fight progresses I will continue working harder and harder. I have to be that Castaño who throws punches non-stop and takes punishment. It is part of my essence, and I will have to bring that 100% on that night in order to bring those belts back home.”
Fighting through pain is part of the job description for any fighter, but Castaño became known for enduring a life-threatening condition that put his heart to the test in the most literal way possible.
“I did have panic attacks. I worked on that for a year and a half with my sports psychologist Marcelo Bivort, with my cardiologist Alberto Marani and his team. I was able to leave that behind working together with them,” said Castaño, regarding a serious incident that took place during his involvement with the Condors, the Argentine franchise of AIBA’s World Series of Boxing, where he collapsed during a morning run and was found to have a serious case of arrhythmia that threatened to end his career. “During my first few fights in the US I brought them with me. They were with me all the time and we worked hard. It was very gratifying to work with them again. Today I can say I left all that behind and I can happily say that it is an anecdote from the past. It’s a part of life, being able to overcome these roadblocks that life puts in front of us.”
Growing pains aside, Castaño claims that what didn’t kill him (and it nearly did) made him stronger.
“Obviously, things go on in life and they are a process both in life and in sports, in your personal life. Those are the punches that life gives you and you have to know how to take them. I was strengthened as a person and as an athlete. Those are things that one does not expect to happen, but they do happen. I don’t have any fear now, I don’t expect it to happen again. Injuries are a part of the sport, but we are working harder for that reason. You have to keep in mind that you can suffer an injury all the time, and you need to be ready.”
As tough as that moment was, it happened during a time when Castaño scored one of the best wins in his career, a points win over future middleweight title challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko as part of his participation in the now defunct World Series of Boxing. It was a period that Castaño remembers fondly as a very formative moment in his career.
“The WSB and my stint with the Condors truly nurtured my skills. Those are fights that provide a lot of experience,” said Castaño. “You try to get that experience and bring it into the professional side. My win over Derevyanchenko, he was a strong fighter who was a middleweight back then, which was not my division, and I felt strong there. I gained a lot of experience and confidence too, just to know that we are ready to fight anyone at the top level. I really gave it all even though I wasn’t in my best moment. I always try to leave everything in the ring.”
To realize his ultimate dream, he will have to do just that – and maybe more. But even as he dreams every night in his sleep, Castaño only sees one possible way in which the fight will ultimately play out.
“The truth is that when I am alone with myself I visualize the fight, round by round. I see myself landing the hardest blows and knocking him out, and having my hand raised. Those are things you have to envision and be ready. I am ready for that, but you have to be ready to lose or draw as well. This is a tough fight, and in a heartbeat you can end up on the floor. That’s why I have my mind set on a victory, with all my preparation and my desire, but I know this is a flip coin of a fight, and anyone can wind up on the canvas. I just imagine myself winning it. I hope it is inside the distance.”