By Gary Todd
Men with heart and passion. Proud fighters, giving everything they have… and that’s just the guys on the undercard.
In what will be a great night of fights for the boxing fans around the world, Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Cas-tillo will go to war again, in one of the most anticipated rematches for many a year.
In their first encounter, Corrales and Castillo showed brilliant brutality, in a fight which saw both champions rocked to their boots, throughout in the 10 relentless round slugfest. Corrales won the fight in spectacular fashion and both fighters punched there way into the “fight of the century” list, and also into the hearts and minds of the boxing world forever.
Jose Luis Castillo started his professional boxing career at the ripe old age of 16, in 1990, fighting in the steamy fight halls of Mexico where he was consistently knocking out tough Mexican featherweights with ease. In 1993, he stepped up to face the experienced Cesar Soto for the Mexican featherweight title. He had never fought anyone with this much experience or power, and was blasted out in two rounds.
Castillo would fight for the Mexican title again and finally win it on his third attempt, by stopping Rafael Olivera in the seventh round. [On previous attempts, he was stopped in the 10th round on both occasions… interesting.]
With almost 10 years of hard slog behind him, sparring the great Julio Cesar Chavez, Castillo moved up to lightweight and challenged the talented WBC champion, Stevie Johnson for his title. In a close fight, Castillo boxed brilliantly, beating the superb boxer, Johnson at his own game, to win the world title.
It was a great fight with both men believing they both did enough to win, and also a clause in the contract for a rematch to the loser, saw the two fighters sign to fight again three months later.
After another 12 rounds of brilliant boxing, Johnson was declared the winner by one point, from the judge at ringside, then later it turned out the judge had it wrong and the fight was scored a draw, helping Castillo retain his title.
As the champion of the world, keeping the title is usually harder than winning it, but Castillo was doing fine in all departments, until 2002, when he took on the tremendously gifted speedster, “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas. Mayweather was too “everything” for the Mexican champion, and he snatched his world title away from him by unanimous decision. Mayweather gave him a rematch later in the year, but gave him another boxing lesson, although Castillo fought a lot better this time around.
After a six month break, Castillo came back with more KO performances, in 2003, and 2004, before being matched to fight Juan Lazcano, for “Mayweathers” vacated, WBC lightweight title. Castillo outboxed the tough Lazcano to win back the WBC belt.
With talk of big money fights ahead, and a unification fight with Diego Corrales, next up for Castillo was the super tough puncher, Julio Diaz. Diaz had been in some wars and thought he had enough to take out Castillo late in the fight. It turned out Castillo took Diaz out late in the fight, stopping him in the 10th round, in what was a tough hard fight. Little did he know, his next fight would be his toughest, hardest fight to date. With this exciting win over Diaz, it was announced that he would face the newly crowned WBO champion, Diego Corrales in a mouthwatering unification “superfight.”
Corrales won the WBO title, by coming from behind to hammer, Brazilian superstar, Acelino Freitas into submission in 2004.
Less than 8 weeks since his fight with Diaz, Castillo would go to war with Corrales, and “oh what a lovely war it was.”
Diego Corrales made his pro debut in 1996, fighting all over the west coast of Amer-ica, while punching his way up the super featherweight rankings. In late 1998, Guyana born, Gairy St Clair took “Chico” the full championship distance, with Corrales winning by a wide points victory. From there, he fought and beat some big name fighters of the division, including Roberto Garcia, for the IBF super featherweight title, John “The Beast” Brown, Derrick “Smoke” Gainer, Justin Jukko, and Angel “El Diablo” Man-freddy.
In 2001, with Corrales forever struggling to make weight faced the devastating, lightning quick, Floyd Mayweather for the WBC super featherweight title. “Pretty Boy” took him somewhere he had never been before that night. He humiliated Corrales, while punching him from pillar to post in a total mismatch of styles and class. Mayweather knocked him down five times to win by KO in the 10th round.
Corrales was hurt mentally, physically, and emotionally and the loss sent him on a rollercoaster ride to ruin. Two years had passed, when he returned. He came back hungry and with more KO wins, he was matched to fight Joel Casamayor, in an eliminator for the IBF super featherweight title. In a great fight, Casamayor fought brilliantly, knocking down Corrales twice, while being down himself, before finally winning by TKO in the 6th round.
Corrales was swallowing a lot of blood due to deep cuts inside his mouth, which left him no choice , but to quit. Really, there wasn’t a winner in this close fight so they signed to do it again. This time around, the stakes were higher. Acelino Freitas had moved up to lightweight, and his WBO super featherweight title was up for grabs. Cor-rales won the rematch by split decision to win the WBO title in 2004.
Corrales had Freitas’ title but like the Brazilian, he was really struggling to get down to the weight so he decided to chase Freitas up to lightweight for his newly aquired WBO lightweight title. “Popo” Freitas had been in the wars with Argentinian brawler, Jorge Barrios and had came through in spectacular fashion, and obviously thought he could take out the lanky Corrales, with his own power shots.
Corrales trained harder than ever, and looked a lot stronger in the gym. In a great fight, he showed a brave heart and came from behind, early on, to waste Freitas to win the WBO lightweight title in superb eye catching style.
In typical “Corrales” fashion, he also took the hard road to greatness and signed to fight Castillo and as they say, the rest is history.
Like all rematches, questions will be asked and answered. No questions on whether this will be a great fight. Of course it will! As to whether it could be as intense and dramatic as the first fight? I don’t think so. How could it be?
What I’ve noticed in my own pre fight analysis is Castillo is vulnerable to being “iced”, the longer the fight goes on. Round 10 in particular has been a bit of a jinx for him over the years, however, Castillo can also keep his KO power, late into his fights, as he showed against Diaz and Corrales.
Corrales also keeps his power late into his fights and although he goes down, he always seems to get up so his chin is good. Great in fact. Really, injuries aside, only Mayweather has beaten him. Both fighters have great pride in themselves and have big hearts.
One question I have is how much has the last fight taken from the two warriors?
Gary Todd is an international author with his book, “Workouts From Boxings Greatest Champs” He has been involved in all aspects in the sport of boxing for over 25 years.