Castillo-Corrales: It’s sadism, part II

Oct 4, 2005 5:32 AM

"The brutality brings the fans to the game. The savagery makes boxing great."

The speaker on the teleconference phone call was Diego (Chico) Corrales and he was talking not only about his hellacious first fight with Jose Luis Castillo, one where the winner’s trainer said it would be "sadistic" for anyone to want to see a rematch, or the bout that cost Leavander Johnson his life last month.

Corrales was talking about the "sadistic" rematch, coming a mere five months and a day after what was certainly one of the greatest action fights of all time.

No rematch? The May 7 meeting was not just brutality and savagery, it was about courage and fortitude and all those elements of human nature that boxing, in its harsh way, celebrates.

Yes, the rematch this Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas is a betting fight.

Corrales is the 3-2 choice to score another victory, maybe take Fighter of the Year honors. But, this isn’t about trying to win a few bucks.

Castillo, with any kind of plus sign after his name, is always a good bet. I bet on him the first time and I was counting my winnings when, after nine rounds of Hagler-Hearns type of action, he scored the first knockdown of the fight with a crisp left hook in the tenth.

Corrales always gets up. Castillo knocked him down again. And then, after nine rounds of Hagler-Hearns, we were given one of the most amazing finishes in boxing history. As Castillo moved in to end it, he ran into a right hand. Soon thereafter, Referee Tony Weeks — who brilliantly had let the fight go on when fainter hearts might have been tempted to stop it in favor of one gladiator or the other — had to rescue Castillo. The great Mexican warrior was still standing, but the only controversy about the ending was the 27 or so seconds of recuperative time that Corrales had bought by losing his mouthpiece after each knockdown in the tenth.

Weeks deducted a point, but Chico had somehow refreshed himself. Castillo would later say that where he comes from, spitting out a mouthpiece was a sign of surrender. Even this Castillo bettor did not feel robbed. The fight was too great to quarrel about nonessentials like money.

Castillo, who gave Floyd Mayweather Jr. perhaps his two toughest fights — Corrales, on the other hand, was dropped by boxing’s best so many times I thought he was a basketball — somehow managed to keep taking Chico’s best shots and advancing to land his own. Corrales is unquestionably one of the best punchers in the game, pound for pounding. Castillo unquestionably has one of the best chins.

Which brings us to the sadistic rematch. The question now is whether Castillo’s chin, having caved in somewhat once, can bounce back. The answer, I believe, is absolutely.

Then the question is will Corrales do the smart thing and use his height and reach advantages and box behind his crisp jab? The answer, I believe, is he will start out that way, but this is the consummate warrior. Even if he gets away with boxing, even if Castillo — who was able to pressure a much finer boxer in Mayweather — can not solve Corrales’s jab, sooner or later brutality and savagery will break out again.

It is in their nature.

Less than 5,000 paid to see the classic May 7 meeting, though even us "experts" advised the world that this was a can’t miss matchup. Styles make sadism. These guys, as Corrales says, are "combustible." They are Gatti-Ward but with much greater skills and ability. They are more like Ali-Frazier, Holmes-Norton, Basilio-DeMarco, Zale-Graziano.

In these, price shoppers know they are always going to get a "live" dog. If I bet — and that’s a big "if" — I’d have to put my money on Castillo, whom I was lucky to have as an underdog against Julio Diaz.

Before their first meeting, each guy expressed his obvious heartfelt admiration for the other. They "knew." There has been no diminishment. They have fortified the mutual respect. There’ll be a lot more people watching this time. I can recommend no bets here, just a rooting interest in the "over," no matter what it is, so that we can see more of what after all is the reason we watch this brutal and savage sport.

Brutality and savagery, multiplied by heart and guts.

consummate warrior. Even if he gets away with boxing, even if Castillo — who was able to pressure a much finer boxer in Mayweather — can not solve Corrales’s jab, sooner or later brutality and savagery will break out again.

It is in their nature.

Less than 5,000 paid to see the classic May 7 meeting, though even us "experts" advised the world that this was a can’t miss matchup. Styles make sadism. These guys, as Corrales says, are "combustible." They are Gatti-Ward but with much greater skills and ability. They are more like Ali-Frazier, Holmes-Norton, Basilio-DeMarco, Zale-Graziano.

In these, price shoppers know they are always going to get a "live" dog. If I bet — and that’s a big "if" — I’d have to put my money on Castillo, whom I was lucky to have as an underdog against Julio Diaz.

Before their first meeting, each guy expressed his obvious heartfelt admiration for the other. They "knew." There has been no diminishment. They have fortified the mutual respect. There’ll be a lot more people watching this time. I can recommend no bets here, just a rooting interest in the "over," no matter what it is, so that we can see more of what after all is the reason we watch this brutal and savage sport.

Brutality and savagery, multiplied by heart and guts.