It was a surprise to many, a very pleasant surprise, that Joel Casamayor agreed to lock horns with Diego Corrales for a second time after their thrilling contest late last year, which Casamayor won by TKO. Saturday night, Corrales avenged that loss by way of a close split decision. Now there's only one thing left for them to do. Complete the trilogy by facing each other once again.
Saturday night, the first 6 rounds of the WBO Super Featherweight bout followed a familiar pattern. It was Corrales who controlled most of the action. With the jab constantly in his face and the threat of Corrales' power forcing him to be careful, Casamayor chose to box defensively throughout most of the first half of the fight. Though Casamayor was effective at times throughout the early action, it was Corrales who was clearly pressing the action and in the ascendancy.
With the fight approaching the middle rounds and Corrales seemingly in front, a subtle shift in the tide emerged. Despite trainer Joe Goosen imploring Corrales for more of the same, the Corrales jab started to disappear. With Corrales' jab less of a factor, Casamayor began to find the range more often.
By the 10th round Casamayor was back in the fight and the exchanges between the fighters began to multiply. Midway threw the round Corrales went to the right hook, but was beat to punch by a straight left from Casamayor, sending Corrales reeling to the canvas. As Corrales rose to his feet, it was obvious he was hurt. Casamayor pursued Corrales for the rest of the round, but still wary of walking into a power shot as he had in the first bout , Casamayor was unable to finish the job.
In the 11th round Corrales momentarily stemmed the tide with a right hand, but could not follow up with Casamayor appearing dazed. Shortly after, the fighters clashed heads, with Corrales getting the worst of it, cuts appearing around one eye and on his nose.
Seemingly bothered by the cuts, Corrales allowed Casamayor to edge the remaining action to set up anxious moments for both boxers as the judges' scorecards were tallied. After the scores were announced, Corrales was the WBO Super Featherweight champion, winning a split decision by scores of 115-112 twice, and 113-115.
“I told you, I told you, I'm back,” Corrales had shouted before the decision was announced, sensing he had won the fight. At the post fight press conference Corrales emphasized how the jab was the key to his victory.
Casamayor was not in agreement. He said, “I definitely felt that I won the fight. I did my job. I did exactly what I wanted to do, and that was to box. He never hurt me. He was chasing but he wasn't doing anything. I hope we fight one more time.”
Though the decision could be debated either way, the big winners on this night were boxing fans. It was boxing at a high level, with both fighters in peak condition and ready to execute. The display of professionalism, technique and courage by both combatants will surely leave fight fans wanting more.
In the main undercard bout, Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson stopped Luis Bolano in the 4th round to win the WBO Super Flyweight championship. Southpaw Johnson sent Bolano to the canvas for the first time in the 4th with a sweet left-right combination. When the groggy Bolano rose to his feet, Johnson finished him off with a series of uppercuts to the body, the final one convincing Bolano that the task ahead of him was futile.
The ageing Johnson's performance last night conjured up memories of just what a sensational talent he was in his prime. Though he is no longer the fighter he once was, Mark Johnson is still a force to be reckoned with at 115 lbs. and a boxer of true quality.