One man fights while another man waits.
Jose Luis Castillo is looking to add another world title belt to his collection Saturday night. Juan Lazcano continues his wait.
The talented, hard-punching Castillo got his 50th victory last June, 11 long months ago, when he outlasted Lazcano down the stretch run in a very nice war. Castillo won the vacant WBC lightweight title with that Las Vegas victory. Saturday night Castillo will look to take Diego Corrales' WBO championship belt. It will be his third outing since he and Lazcano pounded each other.
Lazcano, still a top-10 fighter … still on the verge, has not fought. Castillo-Lazcano was not a classic. But it was a good fight. It started slowly and worked its way into entertainment. Castillo had Lazcano's left eye swollen after three rounds. Lazcano stunned Castillo in the seventh round. After eight rounds, all three judges had it 77-75 Castillo. It was anybody's fight. Lazcano fought gamely, but Castillo was the stronger fighter in the championship rounds. He won a unanimous decision. Dalby Shirley's 115-113 card was easily the most accurate.
Lazcano has been frustrated ever since.
Born in Juarez, Mexico, but raised in El Paso, Lazcano now lives in Sacramento. He took long two hour walks by the river after the loss. Personable, excitable, always articulate, Lazcano might have had a taste of depression after that loss. He is 33-3-1 now, but he had not tasted defeat since June of 1998. It had been almost six years to the day. He believed, like so many fighters, that a championship was his destiny. A defeat, especially with the dream almost within his grasp, hit him like a Joe Frazier left hook.
Castillo has defeated Joel Casamayor and punched out Julio Diaz since his desert dance with Lazcano. Saturday night will be his third fight. Lazcano continues to wait.
Most recently, Lazcano and his promotional company, Golden Boy, could not agree on an opponent for a card in El Paso. He was completely frustrated, saying he wanted to fight Oscar De La Hoya in the Sun Bowl. He feels disrespected. He feels disappointed. He feels pain.
No one has been a better representative for the sport than Lazcano. Always talking a mile-a-minute, Lazcano has never turned down a chance to speak with young people. His messages are always powerful, about chasing dreams, about making a better life … about the fact that anyone can build a better life.
He is 30 now, a year younger than Castillo. Lazcano still has a future, still has a chance to get back into the ring and chase his own dream – a world championship.
Castillo will step into the ring Saturday night, looking to expand his reputation, looking to expand his trophy case. Lazcano continues his wait. At 30, there is still time. But, at 30, time is slipping too quickly through the hour glass.
At some point, a fighter can no longer wait. At some point, a fighter must fight.