Sebastian Fundora Defeats Erickson Lubin to Claim Interim Junior Middleweight Title

Sebastian Fundora is celebrating a big win…

The 24-year-old Cuban American professional boxer, known as “The Towering Inferno,” outlasted Erickson Lubin to claim the interim junior middleweight.

Sebastian Fundora

Fundora had dazzled with his height to earn the No. 5 spot in ESPN’s ranking, but he had never been truly tested before the fight Saturday against Lubin in Las Vegas.

In a fierce clash that saw both boxers hit the canvas, Fundora prevailed when Lubin’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, stopped the bout after Round 9 due to Lubin’s grotesquely swollen face.

The damage accumulated over nine rounds in a fight that kicked into high gear after Fundora (19-0-1, 13 KOs) floored Lubin with a right hand in the closing seconds of Round 2.

Lubin (24-2, 17 KOs) rallied to score a knockdown of Fundora with a flurry of punches in the waning moments of Round 7 and was ahead on two scorecards 85-84 when the fight was stopped (the other score was 85-85).

“I got hit with a good punch and I didn’t feel like I needed to get hit again so I took a knee to get a little breather in and I recovered,” Fundora said.

“I think this was probably my best performance ever. It was a back-and-forth fight. … The uppercut was landing like no other. It lands most of the time with everybody. Southpaw. Right hand. It doesn’t matter. Once I find that, I feel like the job’s done.”

With the victory, Fundora expects a future shot at the WBC title currently held by Jermell Charlo, who meets Brian Castano in a rematch for the undisputed championship on May 14. All of the fighters are aligned with Premier Boxing Champions, making that fight easy to make.

“I see Charlo winning the fight against Castano,” said Fundora, who defeated Sergio Garcia via decision in December. “I feel like he’ll be too strong for Castano the second time.”

Lubin was just 21 when he challenged Charlo for the WBC title in 2017, a fight he lost via first-round knockout. He rebounded with wins over Ishe Smith, Terrell Gausha and, most recently, a sixth-round KO of former unified champion Jeison Rosario in June.

The 26-year-old from Orlando, Florida, was rated No. 4 by ESPN at 154 pounds and figures to land another meaningful fight in the near future.

“I think it was a good decision for Kevin Cunningham to stop the fight,” Fundora said. “[Lubin’s] face shifted from Round 1 to Round 9. It completely morphed, and there was a lot of blood coming out.

“He’s a tough fighter. He was in the game the whole time, but there’s no need to get hurt that much.”

Fundora, meanwhile, will wait to see who emerges between Charlo and Castano.

Brian Castano’s Undisputed Junior Middleweight Championship Fight Against Jermell Charlo Rescheduled for May

There’s a new date for Brian Castano’s next bout…

The rematch between the 32-year-old Argentine professional boxer and Jermell Charlo for the undisputed junior middleweight championship has been rescheduled for May 14 on Showtime, according to ESPN.

Brian Castaño,

The 154-pound bout for all four titles was set for March 19 in Los Angeles but was postponed after Castano (17-0-2, 12 KOs) sustained a minor right biceps tear.

The injury, sources said, occurred last month when Castano was accidently elbowed in the arm by junior middleweight Terrell Gausha.

Castano will resume sparring in approximately two weeks, his manager, Sebastian Contoursi, told ESPN.

Gausha was preparing for a fight with Tim Tszyu, the son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, on the undercard. The WBO called for Castano to defend his title against mandatory challenger Tszyu rather than face Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KOs) after the postponement, but PBC was able to appease the Australian and the Puerto Rico-based organization with an impromptu March 26 Showtime card in Minneapolis headlined by Tszyu-Gausha, sources said.

PBC also had to satisfy Main Events, which promotes Bakhram Murtazaliev, the mandatory challenger to Charlo’s IBF title. Murtazaliev will once again receive step-aside money to allow Charlo to compete in a more meaningful fight, sources said.

The WBO pushed for Charlo-Castano to take place no later than April 30, but the boxing schedule is stacked from April 16 through May 7; May 14 was the earliest viable date. The organization finally approved the title fight late Thursday evening.

The rematch was set to take place at Los Angeles’ Arena, but with multiple NBA teams and an NHL team that could potentially have playoff games, there’s no location finalized at this time.

When Charlo and Castano first met in July, they produced an exhilarating fight worthy of the undisputed championship. Castano appeared to deserve the decision but was forced to settle for a draw in a highly controversial verdict.

One judge scored the fight for Castano, 114-113, while another turned in a puzzling 117-111 scorecard for Charlo. A third judge scored it 114-114.

Charlo is 1-0 in rematches. The 31-year-old Texan’s only pro defeat came via disputed decision against Tony Harrison in 2018. One year later, Charlo exacted revenge with an 11th-round KO. The twin brother of middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, Jermell is ESPN’s No. 2 junior middleweight.

Castano, who is training in Southern California but resides in Argentine, won the title with a unanimous-decision victory over Patrick Teixeira in February 2021. ESPN’s No. 1 junior middleweight also drew with Erislandly Lara in one of the best fights of 2019.

Brian Castaño to Face Off Against Jermell Charlo Once Again in February

Brian Castaño is ready to prove he’s the best…

The 32-year-old Argentine professional boxer and Jermell Charlo will meet once again to determine the best junior middleweight in the world.

Brian Castaño,Castaño and Charlo have agreed to terms for a rematch on February 26, 2022, at Toyota Center in Houston that will crown an undisputed 154-pound champion, multiple sources have told ESPN.

All four belts were set to be unified in July, but the bout resulted in a draw. The rematch was threatened by sanctioning body obligations, but it’s expected both mandatory challengers — Tim Tszyu and Bakhram Murtazaliev — will step aside.

“I think … he will try to avoid [the rematch],” Castano, ESPN’s No. 1 junior middleweight, said after the first bout. “He will probably come up with something else. But in reality, it is me who is going to give him the rematch. If he doesn’t want it, OK. We move on to the next fight.”

Only Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KOs) didn’t try to elude the encore encounter. He swept the final three rounds on all three scorecards to pull out the draw, but even he acknowledged the 117-111 tally was “kind of a large range.”

“I do believe I won the fight; I don’t believe it was that close,” said Charlo, ESPN’s No. 2 junior middleweight. “I should be undisputed right now.”

Charlo will have his chance to enter that rarified air once again, and this time, the fight will land in his hometown. The 31-year-old avenged his only loss — a controversial decision vs. Tony Harrison — via 11th-round KO in 2019.

Against Castano, it was Charlo who was on the beneficial end of the controversy. He won the fight 114-113 on one card, with the same score in favor of Castano on the other.

The PBC fight was exhilarating from the opening bell, with Castano (17-0-2, 12 KOs) applying nonstop pressure and Charlo seeking counter-punching opportunities. Down on the scorecards and on the brink of losing his three titles, Charlo connected on a fight-altering counter left hook in Round 10, but the knockdown never materialized.

“He was like belligerent all over the ring; he could barely stand up,” said Jermell Charlo, the twin brother of middleweight champion Jermall Charlo. “I just couldn’t get him out of there. He’s tough as f—.”

Seven months later, Charlo will have another opportunity to prove he’s the best 154-pounder in the world. And so will Castano, who left San Antonio with a bitter taste in his mouth.

“I feel that they robbed me,” Castano said. “I’m not taking anything away from Charlo. He’s a big puncher. He caught me with some good punches at times, but I survived, and overall, I thought I won the fight.

“And needless to say, I want the rematch because he still has the three belts that I need and feel should be mine.”

Erislandy Lara Defeats Ramon Alvarez to Claim Vacant Secondary Junior Middleweight World Title

Erislandy Lara has a new title…

The 36-year-old Cuban professional boxer made quick work of Ramon Alvarez, knocking him out in the second round to claim a vacant secondary junior middleweight world title on Saturday in the Premier Boxing Champions main event at The Armory in Minneapolis.

Erislandy Lara

In his first fight since parting ways with longtime trainer Ronnie Shieldsand reuniting with Ismael Salas, his original professional trainer, Lara made it look easy against heavy underdog Alvarez, the less accomplished older brother of middleweight world champion and boxing’s biggest star Canelo Alvarez.

“Thank you to Alvarez. He gave me the work I needed today. Having this title here on my shoulders feels great,” Lara said through an interpreter.

Lara had held a top tier 154-pound world title from 2014 until losing it by split decision to Jarrett Hurd in the 2018 ESPN fight of the year, and then fighting to a draw with Brian Castano for the secondary belt in March to drop to 0-1-1 in his previous two fights.

But he got back on track before a crowd of 2,896 against Alvarez, who was not eligible to win the belt.

While Lara comfortably made weight at 153.8 pounds at the weigh-in on Friday afternoon, Alvarez was dramatically over the 154-pound division limit at 158.6 pounds. By fight night, Alvarez had blown up to 177.4 pounds while Lara had only rehydrated to a more normal 169 pounds.

The extra size made no difference for the much slower and less skilled Alvarez, who appeared uninterested in the fight from the opening bell.

Lara (26-3-3, 15 KOs), a southpaw, easily won the opening round and then battered Alvarez in the second round. He drilled him with a pair of straight left hands, a right and another left that sent Alvarez flying between the third and fourth ropes and nearly out of the ring. Referee Mark Nelson properly ruled it a knockdown because the ropes held up Alvarez (28-8-3, 16 KOs), 33, of Mexico.

When the fight resumed, Houston’s Lara, a former Cuban national team star before defecting, continued to paste Alvarez with clean punches from both hands. He forced Alvarez into the ropes as he landed 14 unanswered punches, finishing him with a powerful right hand that forced Nelson to step in and stop the bout at 2 minutes, 3 seconds just as Alvarez’s corner was throwing in the towel.

“Once I had him against the ropes I knew I had this fight won and then I really didn’t want to give him another shot, a power punch, and maybe really hurt him,” Lara said of Alvarez, who dropped to 1-2 in his past three fights with both defeats coming by knockout.

Alvarez did not dispute the stoppage.

“I respect the referee’s decision,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “I’m going to keep working. It is what it is. I fell down, but I will get up again.”

Lara’s victory not only earned him another title belt, but it also gave him a measure of revenge on the Alvarez family. In 2014, Lara lost a highly competitive split decision to Canelo Alvarez in a non-title pay-per-view main event.

According to CompuBox statistics, the fight was also a landslide as Lara landed 33 of 96 punches (34%) while Alvarez landed only seven of 59 shots (12%).

With Alvarez nowhere near Lara’s class, Lara said he hoped to again fight a top opponent and had two guys in mind.

“I’ll fight anybody in the division, but I do want to fight the best boxers out there, being in the higher divisions or lower divisions and I’m talking about [welterweight titlist] Errol Spence Jr. or Canelo Alvarez,” Lara said.

“Me and Canelo have our own little rivalry. I want to fight him in a rematch. His brother had nothing to do with that. They’re a great team and I wish them nothing but good things in the future. Canelo and me have a rivalry to finish.”

“I really trained for this fight, but maybe at 39, I’m nearing the end of my career,” Bisbal said. “I was out of gas by the end of the fourth round, so my corner stopped the fight. They said I looked too tired to fight more. I’ll talk to my team and see what’s next in my career.”