SportsMap Weekend Boxing Rewind

Lara and Castano battle to draw

Erislandy Lara lands a jab against Brian Castano. (Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions.)

It was too close to call in Brooklyn as junior middleweights Erislandy Lara and Brian Castano battled to a split draw in the main event of Saturday night's fights at the Barclays Center. The judges turned in scores of 115-113 for Lara, 115-113 for Castano and a 114-114 draw. SportsMap.com scored the fight 115-113 for Castano, who retained his secondary world title belt with the draw.

Nearly every round of the fight was extremely close. Lara, (25-3-3, 14 KO) a Cuban defector who makes his home in Houston, scored by successfully using his longer, rangier frame to land one-two combinations off of his back foot. Castano (15-0-1, 11 KO) employed pressure throughout the night, cutting the ring off and trapping Lara into the corners. Castano looked less effective at the beginning of the fight, but started to score with force once he found a home for multiple punch combinations and thudding body shots through the middle rounds of the action.

Lara, who is now 35 years old, appeared to fade as the match went on. Castano's pressure seemed to relegate Lara to standing and trading in the final rounds of the fight rather than moving around the ring and landing potshots as he has done throughout the majority of his career. One has to wonder if the length of Lara's career has had an effect on his style. The slick Cuban boxer seems to be more willing to stay in the pocket and crack rather than circle the ring and look for easy points.

The night proved to be a missed opportunity for Lara, who couldn't reclaim his share of the WBA title. Lara held the WBA title for six defenses before losing the belt to Jarrett Hurd in a close split decision in April of last year. After the fight Lara told Showtime's Jim Gray that he was robbed, as he has done after every loss throughout his career, and demanded an immediate rematch. Castano also expressed interest in a rematch.

ORTIZ WINS BUT CAN'T CLOSE THE SHOW AGAINST HAMMER

In the co-feature bout heavyweight Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KO) won a wide decision against Christian Hammer. Ortiz was in control throughout the fight, in an entertaining albeit lopsided bout. The judges scored the fight 100-90 and 99-91 (twice) for Ortiz. SportsMap.com scored the fight 99-91 in favor of Ortiz.

Ortiz peppered Hammer (24-6, 14 KO) with head shots to start the action. The shots scored points for Ortiz, but didn't appear to have a big effect on Hammer's senses. Ortiz moved to the body as the fight went on, leaving Hammer gasping for breath and guarding his midsection as Ortiz continued to score. Hammer hasn't been knocked out in nearly nine years, so the fact that he made it to the final bell was not a surprise despite Ortiz's heavy hands.

Ortiz told Gray post-fight that he was not disappointed he didn't get the knockout. He said through a translator that he wanted to work on his boxing rather than his punching. Ortiz's only loss in his career is his knockout loss to Deontay Wilder in one of the best fights of 2018. Following his win Saturday Ortiz said he would be interested in fighting Wilder again or a fight with unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

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Upton and Verlander are headed to the Big Apple. Photo by Elsa/ Getty Images.

News erupted on a relatively quiet Monday, December 5 that Houston Astros superstar ace and Cy Young Award-winnerJustin Verlander inked a deal with the New York Mets.

According to the New York Post, Verlander, a free agent, agreed to a two-year, $86 million deal with the Mets, with a vesting, third-year option for $35 million. While that's huge news in the world of pro baseball, Verlander's superstar model wife Kate Upton has been also trending on Twitter.

No surprise there, as cover girl and fashion influencer Upton boasts more than 6 million followers on Instagram alone and one of the most followed models on the globe. But it's not a cover shot or sizzling bikini pic making the rounds, but rather, a video of the supermodel shooting the bird to Philadelphia Phillies fans.

Upton, an oft-smiling mom and wife, had no problem backing down from Philly Fan with a double-barreled, middle finger salute. While the audio is hard to decipher, we're guessing Upton didn't edit her smack talk in the dubious City of Brotherly Love.

Plenty of local talk (if one is interested in that sort of thing) points to the Mets being the team for "real" NYC baseball fans, while Yankees fans are said to be band-wagoning, late to games, and full of corporate partners. It's also good optics that Verlander didn't bolt for the team that the Astros dispatched in a four-game sweep on the way to their second World Series title.

Houston fans will no doubt miss Upton, who wed Verlander, gave birth to darling daughter Genevieve, and essentially broke the internet when she donned a retro Astros jacket — making it an instant sellout — all while here in the Bayou City. As transplants from there regularly point out, Houston is notoriously friendlier than the Big Apple.

But, something tells Upton, who has proven that she's not afraid to go publicly potty-mouthed in defense of JV, will have zero problem handling any mouthy NYC fans.

Upton clearly gives zero bleeps when defending her man. Kate Upton/Twitter

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