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Weekend Betting Angle: Charlo vs Castaño II, Kovalev vs Pulev

IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston seeks the betting value in the undisputed 154lbs world title rematch between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castaño, as well as Sergey Kovalev’s cruiserweight clash with Tervel Pulev.

After their thrilling 12-round draw last July,  junior middleweight champions Jermell Charlo and Brian Carlos Castaño simply had to do it again. They meet in a rematch on May 14 in Los Angeles, with Charlo defending the WBC title while Castaño puts his WBA belt on the line.

Odds opened at essentially pick ’em but players have moved the Charlo line, which now sits at 4/9 (-225) at Betfred.

Last time the two met, Charlo was something like a 1/3 (-300) favourite. The draw looked fair. Each man won six rounds in the consensus scoring of the judges.

The battle lines have been drawn. We know what we will be getting. Argentina’s Castaño brings pressure and workrate from behind a high guard. He’s a good puncher with either the right hand or the left hook and he’s clever at letting his hands go when he has an opponent backed up on the ropes. Charlo, from Houston, Texas,  is more of the textbook boxer-puncher. 

The site for the rematch — the Los Angeles suburb of Carson — is pretty much neutral although Hispanic fans will surely be supporting Castaño.

In the last fight, each man hurt the other.

The most dramatic moment of the fight, though, came in the 10th round, when a left hook high on the head had Castaño on wobbly legs. One of the judges made this a 10-8 round in Charlo’s favour even though Castaño stayed on his feet.

Castaño is known for having a great engine, but it was Charlo who finished stronger, sweeping the last three rounds on the judges’ cards.

These are well-matched fighters but I thought that Castaño fought the best fight he could possibly fight in the initial contest, whereas Charlo, I believe, has more room for improvement and adjustment.

Last time, Charlo seemed to let some rounds slip away from him while he looked to time Castaño for perfectly placed shots. If he’d jabbed a little more, thrown a few more punches at key moments, Charlo could have won.

Charlo has the height and reach advantages, and while both men have power I see Charlo as the more explosive. He knows what to expect now and I feel that we will see Charlo letting his hands go a bit more in the rematch. The fact that Charlo came on strongly in the later rounds of the first fight suggests to me that he was doing a better job of figuring out Castaño the longer the fight went.

My lean is to Charlo but I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable laying the price at current odds. Charlo is promising a KO win this time. If you think he can get the job done inside the scheduled 12 rounds you might be interested in the Charlo to win inside the distance at 13/5 (+260). But these two battling it out for the full distance seems more likely. Unfortunately, the odds for “Distance — Yes” aren’t terribly attractive at 4/9 (-275). 

Charlo to win by decision is offered at general odds of 27/20 (+137). The price doesn’t do it for me although a Charlo decision looks more likely than the KO/TKO proposition. However, the Charlo odds have moved too far north for my liking and none of the proposition odds grabs me.

So, what else do we have? With a loaded schedule of fights, it’s always a challenge to pick out value spots but Tervel Pulev vs Sergey Kovalev is one of the more evenly priced bouts of the weekend. “Krusher” Kovalev opened as the favourite but Pulev money has brought the price to pick ’em. Betfred offers each man at 20/21 (-105), take your pick

Kovalev is 39 and he’s moving up from 175 to 200lbs for the 10-round cruiser bout. He looked okay on the scales at 196½lbs at Friday’s weigh-in but Pulev, although also aged 39, is the fresher fighter and naturally the bigger man. I thought Pulev looked excellent at 197½lbs, his lightest weight since 2018. 

Either man can win this. The Inglewood Forum venue doesn’t favour either man although Kovalev is the promotion’s house fighter. I liked Pulev as an underdog play but current odds aren’t so attractive. Kovalev has the far greater experience as a pro but Pulev boxed at an elite level as an amateur. Pulev has had a slow-burning pro career but he seems motivated for this one. It’s “buyer beware” no matter which boxer you like in the fight but I lean a bit towards Pulev.

Main image: Charlo (left) and Castaño (right) battle for undisputed status in California on Saturday night. Photo: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime.