Castillo Vs. The Scale

BY Benn Schulberg ON June 02, 2006
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You could see it coming. Jose Luis Castillo entered the Augustus Ballroom at Caesars Palace for Friday's weigh-in with an exhausted and dejected look on his gaunt face. There was no hiding the fact that he was utterly spent as he lay down on the stage and covered his face with his hand giving the audience an ominous warning of what was to come. Moments later as Jimmy Lennon, Jr. announced his name the crowd responded with an anticipatory hush. Castillo initially hesitated to move from his chair as if weighing in was a death wish and the anguished look on his face told of a man who was looking to escape his captors. It seemed to take all his might as he walked the couple steps over to his great nemesis, the scale. Time had in fact run out and the truth was about to be told.

On and off the scale before the official weight could be read, Castillo was ordered back on to be reweighed. The quick hop onto the scale occurred one more time as he tried his best to confuse newly appointed commissioner Keith Kizer. But the scale doesn't lie and eventually after standing on his toes and trying everything he could to will his weight down to 135 pounds, the official weight was read: 140 pounds. Before leaving the stage, he took one more crack at it and made marginal progress: 139½  pounds. The Nevada State Commission ruled that due to medical reasons, Castillo could only lose two pounds within the two-hour limit provided. Ultimately, there would be no title fight once again, but this time there will be no fight at all. We will all be heading home with the lasting image of the imposing scale knocking out Jose Luis Castillo, which brings his trilogy scale-record to 0-2-1.

Corrales made the 135-pound limit and voiced his frustration by flexing for the audience and yelling out "Yeah, what" as if to remind everybody who the real champion is. Instead of focusing on the negative impact Castillo's made on the sport of boxing with his mockery of trying to make weight, why don't we give Corrales credit for upholding the professional standards all fighters should strive for. He did everything he was asked to do, he tortured himself down to 135-pounds to fight at lightweight for the last time, and gave Castillo the chance to redeem himself for the fiasco that happened before the second fight.

That of course will not happen, and instead, Castillo has disgraced his sport and must live with a stigma that may seriously jeopardize his once stellar reputation. We know he's a great fighter inside the ring, but we also judge a boxer by his character and Castillo's grade in that important category has now slipped considerably. Nobody was cheated more than Corrales who will lose the majority of his $1.2 million purse for the fight. His only consolation is a portion of the fines that the WBC will force Castillo to pay, which will likely amount to about 12.5% of the fighter's purse (roughly $125,000).

All boxing fans were cheated on Friday when Castillo did the unthinkable again. It was deja vu with the only difference being Corrales walking away. Personal safety should always take precedent over money even though that might not be the most popular decision and thankfully the Corrales camp did what was right. As promoter Gary Shaw reminded the audience, "Don't blame Diego Corrales."

There's only one person to blame, not Bob Arum, not Showtime, not the WBC, not even Castillo's manager. A professional athlete is responsible for his own actions and Jose Luis Castillo is no exception to that rule. Our sport deserves better than this and it's appalling that such a great trilogy was destroyed because one if its combatants wasn't able to rise to the occasion and display the integrity of a true champion.

Back in Corrales’ suite after the debacle, he said, “Castillo apologized. I don’t care about his apology. I pushed myself, I paid the price, it wasn’t easy—and he didn’t—it’s as simple as that. I sacrificed for everyone who loves the sport. Why the hell couldn’t he sacrifice? I was tired, beat, hungry, what was he doing? That’s why I’m champion of the world.”

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