Chico and the Man.
Saturday night in Las Vegas, Diego "Chico" Corrales was chopped down for the second time in his pro career; and once again it occurred on his run at the title. This time it was Joel Casamayor who got the best of Diego after dropping him twice and having the fight stopped on cuts in the 6th. It is time for Chico to take a look at becoming a man - speaking in terms of physical stature only - and quit trying to squeeze himself into a boy's 130-pound division that just doesn't fit a person his size.
At 6 feet tall and 130-pounds, Corrales carries freakish power in both hands, but the physical drain of making the Super Featherweight limit continues to get the best of him. Men 6 feet tall just aren't supposed to weigh 130 pounds; and the truest test comes in the ring where Corrales is zapped of the physical strength and stamina to carry on in a fight that lasts more than 5 rounds.
His simply loses his legs as the rounds go by. There is no doubting his ability as a boxer but when Floyd Mayweather knocked Corrales down not once, not twice, not even thrice, but five times during their WBC Super Featherweight title clash back in January of 2001, it was definitely a sign for Chico to make like The Jeffersons and 'move on up'. The sad part is that he did in fact learn from the Mayweather mistake, yet he came back down in weight to 130 in order to fight for a title again when he took on Casamayor. In his four bouts since getting out of jail and before taking on Casamayor, Corrales tipped the scales at 136-pounds, 133, 131 and 131.5. He won each of those bouts by knockout and all ended within 5 rounds. By Friday he had managed to starve himself and dehydrate his body enough to weigh-in bang-on 130 pounds for the IBF title eliminator (you can't fault us for forgetting that the IBA Super Featherweight title was also on the line). Good for him in terms of the fight going ahead, bad for him in terms of his opportunity to win.
The fight was stopped by the ring-side physician at the end of the sixth round. This was due to cuts Corrales had received from an unintentional head butt in the first round and, primarily, cuts to his lip and mouth in subsequent rounds. Many observers feel that Corrales had been gradually breaking down Casamayor and that one more round was all that was needed for Chico to close the show. He begged for three more minutes but never got the medical green light.
Regardless, hopefully the lesson has been learned. He is such a skilled fighter that the opportunities abound at the higher weight limits. Going all the way up to 140 and taking on the best fighter that division has to offer - Kostya Tszyu - you would be hard pressed to convince me that Corrales wouldn't have a shot. Corrales would have five inches on Tszyu, a serious reach advantage, and be much stronger at a more comfortable weight class. Tszyu has been dropped in the past and would certainly have a difficult time reaching Corrales and avoiding the heavy rights and decapitating left hooks Diego throws. Something worth pondering.
Some fighters ignore all the obvious signs that it is time to hang up the gloves - are you listening Evander "I just had (another) off-night" Holyfield? - while others sabotage their opportunity to be their best by squeezing into a weight class that just doesn't fit them anymore. In Spanish the word "chico" means "boy" and Diego Corrales is clearly a 6 foot tall, 26-year old man. It is time for his team to accept that and allow him to start being one.