Watching Jose Luis Castillo smile his way through a lackluster snooze fest on Saturday night makes it that much harder to compare him to his legendary countryman, Julio Cesar Chavez. After waking at the end of the 12th round just in time to catch both the decision and the raining of boos that followed as the fans (who were few and far between) expressed their displeasure, I realized why the sport of boxing can be such a maddening fascination. Instead of getting a competitive fight, we were bludgeoned with boredom and even given the wonderful treat of seeing both fighters touching gloves and smiling at each other as the last seconds ticked away. Why would Rolando Reyes, desperately behind on the scorecards and in the biggest fight of his career, just accept defeat? The Showtime commentators hinted that all Reyes was looking for was a moral victory in surviving all 12 rounds with the great Mexican warrior, but in reality, “he took his paycheck and ran,” as Castillo himself said.
Still, there is no excuse for Castillo's lethargic effort. Our sport doesn't need celebrated fighters such as Castillo joking in their corners between rounds and acting as if he was participating in a relaxed sparring session with an amateur fighter. On Saturday night, there needed to be a smile count statistic to judge whether or not Castillo threw more left hooks or showed off his white mouthpiece to the audience, seemingly exalting in his dominance and the fact that his opponent was determined to retreat and concede to the mighty Mexican.
Castillo barely made the 138-pound limit for this fight, raising great concern as to his ability to make the lightweight limit for his anticipated rubber match with Diego Corrales on June 4. We all know what happened last time on the scales as Castillo disgraced himself by allowing his cornerman to resort to cheating in hopes of making the 135-pound lightweight limit. Even if he was unaware of the antics going on below him as he weighed-in on that fateful day, it seemed unconscionable that a champion of his caliber would knowingly be a number of pounds overweight on the eve of such a mega-fight. Of course there were justifiable excuses, a rib injury, a personnel change in his corner…the reality is that Castillo's lightweight days are clearly numbered and maybe even extinct.
Let's hope for our sport's sake that the Castillo-Corrales rubber match will go on as planned after Chico recovers from his own rib injuries suffered in sparring last month. Castillo said after his unanimous decision victory over Reyes that he'd like to have one more ten-round fight in April before his big showdown with Corrales. “I prefer to fight a taxi driver,” he said, implying that he'd like to have another public sparring session under his belt before he heads into the defining fight of his stellar career.
Based on this performance or this lack of performance by Castillo, it's easy to say that Corrales may have a distinct advantage in the third fight simply because he's the more natural lightweight. Truly, we don't know what will happen on the night of June 4, which is a testament to their first fight, arguably the greatest fight of all-time. But let's forget about fight night. Based on Castillo's weight issues, I'm just praying we get past June 3, the day of the weigh-in, the moment of truth for Jose Luis Castillo to prove to us all – and most notably to the Nevada State Athletic Commission – that he is a legitimate lightweight, and not the foot-under-the-scale lightweight that so greatly disappointed us back in October.