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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TEXANS HAVE ZERO DEPTH AT CORNER

Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back, while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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