February 27, 2004

Diego Corrales and Joe Goossen: A Match Made In Boxing Heaven

By Fiona Manning

Now the truth is out. Despite all talk of former WBA 130 pound champion and current WBO No. 1 contender Joel Casamayor abruptly leaving longtime trainer Joe Goossen to train in “a beautiful mountain camp in Paso Robles, CA, the truth is Casamayor never left the LA area.

La Prensa San Diego has learned that Casamayor has been held up in Phil Paolina’s New York City Boxing Club in Woodland Hills, a stone’s throw from his former base camp in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley.

While this talk has reached the Corrales/Goossen camp in their final days of preparation for the rematch of Casamayor vs Corrales on March 6 at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, they invited select members of the media on Wednesday to meet and talk to Corrales.

They merely shook their heads at this news. What could they say? Casamayor who was on a winning streak with Goossen, left his trainer for Buddy McGirt. Now Corrales who trained with McGirt is with Goossen.

It’s not weird. It’s boxing.

“All I can say is I have never had a better camp,” said Corrales who has clearly forged a good working relationship with Goossen.

Sporting a Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero T-shirt, Corrales said, “I am his newest fan.”

Corrales and feather phenomenon Guerrero sparred in a closed five round session Wednesday morning, and Corrales found out what some of the biggest names in town are finding out: Guerrero hits like a heavyweight.

“He is fast, very fast. I dig this guy,” said Corrales donning the T-shirt and skipping rope before settling down to do interviews for Showtime and the waiting media.

By the time he sat down for the TV cameras however, the Guerrero T-shirt was soaked through and replaced.

Still, Corrales could not stop smiling. “I am so grateful for this fight because I want to prove I am the best,” he said.

“I want to prove I can beat Casamayor and any of the other thirty pounders out there. I am glad we were able to make this rematch happen.”

Indeed, Corrales looks in much better shape than he did for his first fight with Casamayor. At the pre-fight press breakfast at Mandalay Bay for the first fight, Corrales looked ashen and drawn.

“I thought he was weight-drained truthfully in that fight,” said Goossen. “Not this time. He looks incredible, doesn’t he?”

Corrales, the former IBF 130 pound champion has become part of the Ten Goose Team and chats amiably with the rest of Goossen’s stable.

“We’re a family,” he said. “I feel very supported here. It’s been intense, but I can honestly say Joe’s taught me some things.”

As the worst tropical storm in recent California memory blew down from Casamayor’s alleged training camp locale and prepared to hit Los Angeles, the mood in the gym was ebullient.

“We’ve had a good camp,” said Goossen, barely able to contain his energy in his compact, hard body. He’s as anxious to get this fight on as Corrales is himself.

“The first fight swung both ways,” said Goossen. “There was a lot of damage done on both sides.”

Corrales nods in agreement.

Where they might disagree is the point of the fight being stopped. Corrales was upset at the time, but time has tempered his feelings on the subject.

“Fighters never like to be stopped on cuts,” said Goossen. “But I had no problem with the stoppage, and I still don’t.

“Diego is very easy to work with. He’s willing to listen. He made some mistakes in the first fight and I’m not going to get into what they are since it’s part of our strategy, it’s the key to our fight - but he’s made the work very easy.

“He’s very easy going, very friendly. A nice kid. He’s like a lot of fighters. An awfully nice guy until you get him in the ring.”

Corrales who does look freakishly thin, normally at 130 pounds, actually looks robust and healthy.

“I wondered how he would look, because I know weight has always been a factor for Diego,” Goossen said. “But I was really surprised. Happily surprised.

“He’s been at 135, 140 the whole time he’s been here. I got him loading up on steak and carbs. I told him he’d drop the weight easier. He’s worked it off in the gym.

“He’s doing three workouts a day. He runs 45 minutes to an hour at Griffith Park or Balboa Park every morning, where incidentally we have run into Joel Casamayor almost every day. Then he has a morning and afternoon session here. I’ve worked him hard.”

Did Casamayor and Goossen talk?

“No,” Goossen said with a smile. “He was supposed to be in Paso Robles, remember?”

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