With all four major 154lbs belts on the line, Argentina’s 9/4 underdog Brian Castaño sailed mightily close to an upset win but was denied on the cards after a late rally by Jermell Charlo seized a draw at the AT&T Center in San Antonio on Saturday night. 

In an action-packed fight, the ceaseless pressure and industry of WBO title holder Castaño caught the eye, but WBC, WBA Super and IBF champion Charlo dug deep in the last three rounds to sweep the sessions on all three judges’ cards and claim parity.

Scores were 114-113 Castaño, 114-114 and an outrageous 117-111 nod for Texan Charlo in his home state.

Afterwards, Castaño stated his dismay at the outcome and petitioned for a rematch.

“There were some rounds that he did hit me and he hit me hard. But I won the fight definitely and it was a great fight,” said Castaño (17-0-2, 12 KOs). “I hope there’s a rematch. He’s a great fighter. I want the rematch.”

Charlo, who stunned Castaño repeatedly in a one-sided 10th round, saw the stalemate differently. “I hurt him way more than he did to me,” said Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KOs). “Brian Castaño is a tough warrior. He’s gonna give a lot of people problems, but my power is something serious at this weight division.”

The fight pitted Castaño’s educated pressure and body work against Charlo’s stiffer punches and more eye-catching shots. The Argentine settled into an earlier rhythm with his aggression, and rattled Charlo in the second with his right-hand work. But Charlo blasted back, stunning Castaño with a left hook in the same session.

At the end of the third, Charlo’s knees buckled under the weight of a left hook and it was clear the home favourite had a major problem on his hands.

Castaño appeared to take over the fight at this juncture with his suffocating aggression, negating Charlo’s jab and forcing the Texan to the ropes with waves of pressure. Charlo was flustered and, after a one-sided ninth, concerned trainer Derrick James implored his fighter to find some momentum with rounds seemingly slipping away.

Charlo sparked into life just in time, turning the tables in a 10th round so dominant judge Steve Weisfeld (who tabled the 114-113 vote for Castaño) scored it 10-8 in his favour. The visitor was twice in dire straits after being rocked by cannoning right hands from Charlo. Castaño back-pedalled desperately in survival mode but was badly stunned on two more occasions before just about surviving the round.

Now it was a case of whether Castaño could survive the inevitable bombardment in the final two rounds. He was driven to the ropes by a Charlo volley in the penultimate session but trainer James remained deeply concerned, urging the Texan to finish the argument: “You have to knock him out!”

Charlo and Castaño left everything in the ring in a thrilling final round. They were trading bombs as the bell rang and the crowd stood to applaud their efforts. Now they must do it all again after the three judges saw the fight differently.

Main image: Amanda Westcott/Showtime.