March begins with great bouts from Barclays Center in Brooklyn

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In April of last year Erislandy Lara placed his WBA and IBO titles on the line, and undefeated Jarrett Hurd anted up his IBF belt in a World Super Welterweight title unification bout that was voted “Fight of the Year” for 2018.

Hurd was the effective aggressor throughout. Constantly moving forward he threw more, landed more, and had superior power on his punches.

In the final, scheduled round Hurd landed a left hook that dropped Lara to his knees.

That gave Hurd a 10-8 round, which should have put him ahead by at least three-points…”should have.”

He has a left hook and a straight right that can scramble the toughest eggs.

Not so.

Two judges saw it 113-114 in favor of Hurd and the third gave it to Lara 114-113. That knockdown made all the difference. And the correct fighter got the “W.”

***

In the main event from Brooklyn (and in his first fight since that loss) southpaw Lara challenged undefeated Brian Castano for his WBA World Super Welterweight title.

Castano (15-0-1, 11 KO’s) is not well known in the U.S. but he has a solid skill set and a good chin. He also has a left hook and a straight right that can scramble the toughest eggs.

They let their hands go from the start, in a very entertaining fight.

The concentration of their punches was the exact opposite. Lara favored jabs (524 to Castano’s 198) while Castano fired mostly power-shots (668 to Lara’s 301) making it very difficult to score.

There was an ebb and flow during the first half that kept it even. Lara collected several of the following rounds, while Castano banked the last three rounds on all scorecards in a late rally.

The bout went the distance and the scorecards perfectly reflected the action with a split decision draw.

Brian Castano retained his title and Erislandy Lara (25-3-3, 14 KO’s) turned in an excellent performance that will keep him in contention.

There was immediate talk of a rematch.

***

The co-featured event on the card was between popular Heavyweight Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KO’s) and an unknown Hamburger named Christian Hammer (24-6, 14 KO’s).

That was not a knock on Christian…he’s from Hamburg, Germany.

Luis’ only defeat came one year ago, in a title fight against reigning and defending champion Deontay Wilder.

In their bout from Barclays, Ortiz (a lefty) dominated Hammer in every respect. Luis threw more and landed more, and connected at a higher percentage.

He wobbled Hammer with a thunderous shot to the body at the end of Round 2, stunned him with an uppercut in the 4th, and both of them were bleeding from the nose by Round 5.

Ortiz continued to chip away with both mitts, upstairs and down, but couldn’t seal the deal. The bout went the distance and Luis Ortiz won by a lopsided (100-90 and 99-91, twice) unanimous decision.

***

Also on the undercard was a match for the Gold WBA championship in the Featherweight class.

Bryan De Gracia (24-2-1, 20 KO’s) laced them up against southpaw Eduardo Ramirez (22-1-3, 9 KO’s).

Sporting a three-inch reach advantage, Ramirez weighed in one pound over the limit, but was able to burn it off in the time allotted.

That might not seem significant, but these guys are already so lean they look like chicken wings and that pound Ramirez lost was all water.

They spent the opening frames getting their distance and timing but their punches remained short and inaccurate throughout…fighters have been hit more while shadowboxing.

De Gracia began to set the tempo, picked up the pace in the 4th and had Ramirez in trouble in Rounds 5 and 6.

Trailing on the scorecards going into the 9th, Ramirez landed a devastating right uppercut that rocked De Gracia. Ramirez swarmed him with punches, took three-steps back and then redoubled his effort with a flurry that impelled the referee to call a halt to the competition.

Good call, ref.

Eduardo Ramirez wins by TKO and becomes the mandatory challenger.

Mark Felicetti roars in like a lion, eats all the lambs and leaves like a large overweight lion. Reach him at mark@tolucantimes.com.

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