It is a cliche to focus on the fight and fighter in front of you. It is also a very smart approach to any fight. Looking past someone can result in your plans falling apart quickly. It can be a hard lesson. It was one that Anthony Castrejon needed to learn firsthand and the debuting Victor Saravia was happy to teach him.
According to a pre-fight interview on Lion Fight Castrejon said, “Maybe after I knock out this kid they’ll give me Jason Andrada for the title.” He did get the knockout finish part of the prediction right only he ended up on the wrong side of it.
There is no doubt that Castrejon is a talented fighter and may fight for the title but he completely overlooked a very talented opponent in Saravia. It was just 30 seconds into the fight when commentator Pat Miletich noted that Saravia has power and a quick release on his kicks.
He thudded a lead leg kick to Castrejon’s liver moments later that had him backing up. Throughout the round Saravia consistently countered Castrejon’s kicks with his own. He also came forward controlling the fight.
Several times in the first round Saravia just missed with head kicks. He had no trouble landing them to the body and legs of Castrejon. Including an inside leg kick that almost took him off of his feet.
It was a much different fight than Castrejon had expected. Saravia came in focused and did not care about Castrejon’s title fight plans.
As round two started Schiavello was talking about the surprising power of Saravia when he sent Castrejon backwards with a lefthand. Both Schiavello and Miletich were impressed by Saravia’s power. He was delivering it very quickly.
As the debuting fighter it was remarkable how he utilized his footwork to control the space and distance of the fight. Saravis moved Castrejon into his power in the second round and continued to be the aggressor. He forced Castrejon to fight off of his back foot.
Saravia continued to work the inside and outside of the Castrejon’s legs in the round. They seemed to be slowing Castrejon down a little or Saravia’s timing was getting better. With a little over 30 seconds left in the round Castrejon went up top with a round kick and Saravia violently checked by kicking his planted leg out. He was a little slow to get up off of the canvas.
Moments later, Castrejon took a kick with his forearm that moved him and another hard outside leg kick that had him smiling and shaking his head. The one where the fighter is trying cover up that he is hurt. Castrejon countered with an outside leg kick. He was able to block a left hook from Saravia but it still moved him.
As the rounded ended Schiavello and Miletich commented that this was not the fight Castrejon had expected based on his pre-fight comments.
At the start of the third round Castrejon danced around a little more trying to find an opening. Saravia came forward still the aggressor. Then with a little over two minutes left in the round Saravia missed with a leaping left hook. In avoiding the strike Castrejon moved back to the ropes and went with a front kick to the face. Saravia ate the kick and countered with a solid right hook that staggered Castrejon.
Again Saravia showed tremendous patience and really looked very advanced for a 20 year old debuting fighter. He kept up the pressure but was not reckless. He followed Castrejon around the ring and landed a glancing right hand. Then after a step landed a clean one that knocked Castrejon down.
After Castrejon got up Saravia stalked him around the ring. Castrejon respond with a couple of kicks and knees. Saravia landed a glancing left hand and continued to apply calm relentless pressure. Castrejon made a half-hearted attempt to launch himself off of the ropes into a teep. Saravia caught the kick with his left hand, held it for a moment. Then quickly dropped Castrejon with a left hook for the second knock down of the round.
This time Castrejon took his time getting up not rising until the count of seven. When he did get back to his feet referee Tony Weeks indicated that one more knock down and the fight would be over.
Again tremendous patience by the younger fighter as Saravia waited for the opening. After 40 seconds passed Castrejon through a jab that Saravia slipped and countered with a right hook that ended the fight.
It was a sublime debut that hints a bright future for Saravia. He displayed a veteran’s savvy and technique with some explosive power. It will be fun to see who he fights next.