By Fiona Manning
Former IBF 130 pound champion Diego “Chico” Corrales makes his first ring appearance in two years next week when he faces 41 year old Freddy Castro on the January 25 undercard of Sharmba Mitchell vs Carlos Vilches’ IBF jr. welterweight elimination bout for the vacant IBF No. 2 contender position.
The 6’3” tall Corrales is hoping to put his chequered past behind him to once again dominate the sport he loves and which, he says, helps to deal with the pain he feels inside.
Much has been written about Corrales’ love troubles. The frequently married fighter once had a former wife sell his beloved boxing belts on Ebay
That led to him getting a tattoo above his heart: it reads “pain for love.”
A domestic dispute with his last wife led to him giving her such a severe beating, he received a 24 month prison sentence.
Nothing has been written about Corrales’ love for pain.
“There is so much love for pain inside me, so much I have to work through. It’s what fires me,” he told La Prensa San Diego. It’s what burns inside me and motivates me. It’s what pushes me every day to become...me.”
Initially, Corrales, 33-1 with 27 KOs, was going to fight at junior welterweight himself and that is still a possibility down the line. Right now however, he is preparing to “test the waters” at 135 in dealing with two-time world title challenger Cruz who is 53-33-10, with 17 KOs.
“I weighed 137 today,” said an ebullient Corrales by phone from his mother’s house in Sacramento. “I’m not trying to be that light, I didn’t want to drop the weight too quickly but it naturally happened. I feel so good and so strong.”
Corrales, who hails from Sacramento and lives in Las Vegas, trained some of the time there with new trainer Kenny Adams. After this short visit with his mama, he heads to his manager James Prince’s gym in Houston, TX to complete his camp.
This is the first fight back for Corrales since being released last June from California’s Tracey Prison.
So notorious is Tracey, that writer Timothy Leary who once found himself incarcerated there in the 70s, described it in his journal as: “Madness. I keep looking for my son Jackwho is somewhere in the system. Tracey is dangerous. Crazed kids. Must escape.”
Corrales didn’t think about escaping. He took a long hard look at what brought him behind bars.
“I had a long time to think.You have a lot of time in prison to think and to read. There’s not much else to do in there.”
The fans wrote and often included photos they had taken with him at various fights.
Corrales appreciated their words of support. “They told me to keep my head up and I did,” he said. “Those letters really helped. Boxing fans are something else.”
The biggest surprise for Corrales who did not publicly announce where he was serving time and now says was frankly “trying to hide,” was when he received a visit from rap mogul turned boxing impresario James Prince.
Few people who witnessed their hostilities at the Los Angeles and Las Vegas press conferences to promote Corrales’ unification fight with Prince’s charge Floyd Mayweather Jr, could have predicted they would not only become close friends but that Prince would wind up managing him.
“I couldn’t believe he tracked me down,” said Corrales. “I couldn’t even believe the fans tracked me down but J came and saw me and I was impressed that with all he’s doing, with the life he leads and how busy he is that he kept his word with me.
“You have to admire and respect any man who keeps his word and J is a man of his word. He told me he would visit me once a month. And he told me if it wasn’t him visiting me once a month it would be Tony [Prince’s right hand man Antonio Leonard] and they did. J came to see me twice and Tony came three times.”
Another person vital to Corrales’ future, his fiancee Michelle stood by him too. “That’s why she’s my wife today,” he said. “She stood right there the whole time. She believed in me. I have four children and two of them live with us. If I wasn’t training for a fight right now I can tell you I’d be at home with Michelle and my kids.”
Corrales said he will make the best use of his life now that he has been given a second chance.
“I still hunger for the big fights, the big names. I want it all back,” he said.
Prison time and a two year absence from the Sweet Science have not softened his hard feelings towards Floyd Mayweather Jr, to whom a weight-weakened Corrales lost his title and suffered a devastating KO loss the very last time he fought.
Corrales says he will never forgive and never befriend Mayweather for the things he said about him leading up to the fight, but would fight him again “at the drop of a hat.”
Doesn’t it make things awkward considering James Prince manages both fighters?
“It takes a lot from me to say I hate somebody,” said Corrales. “A lot. And they couldn’t pay me enough to like Floyd. But now we’re both moving up in weight, don’t you think that makes a great fight?”
While Corrales studiously avoids actually calling out Mayweather or any of the other top names, be assured they are all in his line of fire.
They will all feel his love for pain.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’m watching them all. Let ‘em know, Chico is back. Chico is back and he’s ready to settle some scores.”