Diego Corrales Vs José Luis Castillo I
May 7, 2005
Las Vegas, Nevada
Venue: Mandalay Bay
Diego Corrales and José Luis Castillo had both been victims of losses to the best fighter of their era; Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Corrales was thoroughly outboxed and mentally emasculated by the defensive guru. Castillo gave Mayweather the two toughest fights of his career but was on the long end of both decisions. Both men had also rebounded well from their losses to Mayweather. Going into their May 2005 matchup, both men held world title versions of the 135 pound division. Corrales held the WBO version and Castillo was the owner of the WBC version. I knew going into this unification title fight that this had the makings of a classic.
Although very tall for his weight at almost 5’11”, the 27-year-old Corrales mostly fought on the inside. The 31-year-old Castillo was your traditional, Mexican inside fighter who loved going to the body. Round one saw both fighters waste no time in attacking each other. Corrales carried the first round by landing more left hooks than Castillo, which was surprising, being that Castillo had a lethal left hook. Castillo began landing much more often with his left hook to both the chin and torso in round two. The following three rounds could’ve been fought in a phone both. Both men took turns landing booming shots to each other’s head and body. After five rounds of furious action, I had wished my father was alive to see this captivating war.
As great as the first five rounds were, the next four were even greater. The incredible phone booth war continued and late in the sixth round, Castillo badly hurt Corrales with two punishing uppercuts. At the end of the seventh, Corrales staggered Castillo with a short, crisp left hook. Rounds eight and nine saw both men hurt each other several times with riveting combinations. I couldn’t believe the give and take by both fighters. At the end of the ninth, both of Corrales’ eyes were swollen and Castillo’s left eye was bleeding badly.
Thirty seconds into round 10, Castillo landed a short, crisp left hook of his own that knocked Corrales down for the first time. Corrales was in dire straits, so he wisely spit out his mouthpiece before getting up at the count of nine. Referee Tony Weeks had to give Corrales extra time to recuperate so his corner could place his mouthpiece back in. Less than 30 seconds later, Castillo landed another short left hook that knocked Corrales down for a second time. Once again, Corrales spit out his mouthpiece and got up at the count of nine. Weeks deducted a point for the flagrant spitting of the mouthpiece, but that gave Corrales even more time to clear his head. As Castillo went in for the kill, he walked into a devastating right cross that staggered him. Corrales landed two more right hand bombs that sent Castillo up against the ropes. After Corrales landed a crushing three-punch combination, referee Weeks jumped in to stop the fight and save Castillo who was completely out on his feet. It was an extraordinary finish to an extraordinary round and fight.
Neither man was ever the same after this titanic war. The rematch five months later was a complete letdown as Castillo failed to make weight, so after paying a heavy fine, he went out and destroyed Corrales in four rounds. He would go 13-6 in his last 19 fights before retiring in 2014 at the age of 40.
The first fight with Castillo was the last fight Corrales would win. After getting knocked out by Castillo in the subsequent rematch, Corrales would lose his 135-pound title to Joel Casamayor, then take a brutal beating at the hands of Joshua Clottey. On May 7, 2007, exactly two years to the day of his sensational war with Castillo, Corrales died in a motorcycle accident while riding it to his Las Vegas house. Corrales’ alcohol level was three times the legal limit. He was only 29 at the time of his untimely death.