As Brazil’s Patrick Teixeira prepares to face Argentina’s Brian Castano this weekend, he tells Lewis Watson about one of sports fiercest national rivalries.
What’s makes up the recipe for the best rivalries in sport? A dash of deep-rooted competitiveness among peers, a sprinkle of animosity from previous encounters, and a drizzle of unwilting belief that you are the superior force.
But sometimes, it’s simply your postcode. That is the case this weekend, as Patrick Teixeira (31-1, 22 KOs) and Brian Castano (16-0-1, 12 KOs) lock horns for Teixeira’s WBO super-welterweight title inside Fantasy Springs Casino, California.
“Winning against any athlete is an amazing feeling,” Teixeira told Boxing Social, “but when it’s a Brazilian winning against an Argentine it gives it that extra special taste.
“It’s something very, very special. I have nothing particularly against Castano as a fighter, but I also feel nothing in favour of him. We are raised to understand the importance of this rivalry, and for me to write my own chapter in this on-going story is incredible.
“Both countries just constantly want to be better than the other,” he further explained. “It’s a historic rivalry that began even before both countries existed. Spaniards and Portuguese started this feud shortly after the discovery of America. We are two neighbouring peoples who simply want to succeed and, if it has to be at the expense of the other, then so be it.”
It’s a rivalry that enjoys more infamy in football than boxing. Heated debates can be heard across South American borders as to whether Pelé or Diego Maradona own the right to be titled the greatest of their national sports, but boxing, too, has enjoyed the fruits that this feud has produced.
Rewind the clock back to 2003 and you’ll find the last time that a Brazilian and an Argentine competed for one of boxing’s recognised world titles; Acelino Freitas and Jorge Rodrigo Barrios went to war at super-featherweight, sharing two knockdowns each, culminating in Freitas stopping his man in the twelfth and final round.
Some 17-and-a-half years on and Teixeira explains that this fight has inspired him to follow in the footsteps of his countryman “Popo”.
“That fight was a real war, man,” he continued. “I love watching that fight back as well as Eder Jofre fights from quite a few years back. Castano is a warrior like me; he’s a born fighter, so I know that this is going to be an all-action fight. There is no doubt.”
If this Saturday’s fight is the war, then Teixeira and his team have already won the battle. Golden Boy Promotions comfortably won the purse bids for their Brazilian charge’s first title defence, sharing the bill with Joseph Diaz’s IBF super-featherweight title defence against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov.
Despite not fighting since November 2019, the 30-year-old is adamant that ring rust won’t be an issue upon his return. A bloody and bruised upset win over Carlos Adames is the last entry on his record, dropping the Dominican late in the seventh round to secure a tight unanimous decision in Las Vegas.
This saw the southpaw scoop the WBO’s interim title at super-welterweight, and he has since been elevated to full champion following Jaime Munguia’s decision to jump up to middleweight. But does Teixeira feel any less of a champion? Not in the slightest.
“After 13 years without there being a Brazilian world champion, I was able to finally do it for my country,” he explained. “It was a dream that came true. This is all that matters. I know that people are going to have their opinions, but I had faith in myself that I could achieve this and, importantly, so did Golden Boy Promotions. I proved all the doubters wrong who didn’t think I could achieve such a feat.
“I challenged Munguia several times but he didn’t want to fight. I know I would have done to him exactly what I did to Adames. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity, so I had to go to Adames’ house to show that I am the real champion at 154lbs.”
Teixeira found peace over a challenging 2020, which had enabled him to rest and recover. He was unwilling to give too much away regarding the strengths of Castano and the gameplan for Saturday night, but he was much happier to divulge his plans for domination at the weight following this grudge match.
“I’ve just kept very quiet and trained in private,” he added. “Camp has been perfect and we’ve been preparing great here in Oxnard, California. I’m close to my physical peak thanks to the work of my strength and conditioning coach Cicilio Flores. We are closing in on the fight now and I’m very close to the weight and have managed to get in some fantastic sparring.”
“I do not doubt that [Jermell] Charlo is the current number one in the division,” he said candidly, “but that is only temporary. When we meet, I will take all the belts. That is my plan for 2021: first Castano, then Charlo. I want to be remembered in boxing as the undisputed champion at 154lbs and I’m not going to let anything stand in my way.”
Teixeira has fought Argentine opponents before. He’s 6-0 against his rivals so far in his career, but this time the stakes couldn’t be much higher. As the first bell chimes inside the Fantasy Springs Casino on Saturday night, Teixeira and Castano will begin writing their names in the annals of their countries sporting stories.
And how will Teixeira celebrate if he wins, keeping hold of his treasured world title? “A good option would be an Argentinean steakhouse,” he concludes with a wry smile.
Main image: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy. All other photos:Mikey Williams/Top Rank.