Former junior middleweight titleholder Erislandy Lara is back in the ring for the first time in 2019 to challenge undefeated secondary titleholder Brian Castano in a crossroads battle that should have major implications on the future of the division. The two tussle on Saturday, March 2, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
While it usually doesn’t make a ton of sense for boxing betting fans to back a 35-year-old like Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) in a bout against an up-and-comer like Castano (15-0, 11 KOs), there are some pretty compelling reasons to do so this weekend when you dive into the situation headfirst.
First, Lara might not really be coming off a loss. Sure, unbeaten 28-year-old Jarrett Hurd scored the last-minute knockdown on Lara to swing the scorecards his way for a split-decision win in April 2018, but there’s at least a decent argument that the fight should have been scored for Lara.
The optics would be way different if that was the case. Lara would then be headed into the bout as the unified junior middleweight champion coming off maybe the best win of his career. In fact, had it gone the other way there’s a good chance this fight never happens.
Moreover, Lara is a crafty southpaw stylist with some of the best footwork in boxing along with some of the most accurate power punching this side of Floyd Mayweather.
There’s nothing on Castano’s resume to suggest he’ll know how to chase down the clever Lara, and he hasn’t really beaten any other fighter of note that might give him the benefit of the doubt.
Castano looks like a solid professional. There’s no doubting his career will continue no matter what happens on Saturday. But Lara, so long as his advanced age hasn’t suddenly thrown the fighter down a cliff, should be able to outbox him for that secondary world title.
Backing Lara at -177 with 888Sport is a really good play. Castano’s over-reliance on athleticism will probably be his undoing. The fighter has a tendency to leave his head on the same place at the beginning and end of combinations, so Lara will connect often.
There are two things that can happen when a fighter like Castano finds himself in the ring with a boxer like Lara. Judging by his past performances against less talented fighters than Lara, Castano is an aggressive puncher who carries his hands high and throws a furiously ambitious amount of punches.
But what happens if those punches don’t land? And what happens when the insult added to the injury is a sharp counterpunch to Castano’s face?
A fighter in that circumstance either doubles down on aggression and becomes reckless, or shuts things down and essentially leaves it to the judges to hand him his fate.
Lara is almost never in a rush to take a fighter out, so if things go down that way it will be entirely up to Castano as far as how the end comes.
Backing Lara on points, at +110 with Karamba is the most risk-averse position to take. The most likely way for Lara to win is by outboxing Castano over 12 full rounds.
But if you think Castano might press the issue and try to knock Lara out, even at the expense of leaving himself open to getting knocked out himself, back Lara by KO, TKO or DQ at +400.
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