One has to suppose that the ruling that has allowed Diego Corrales to retain the title as WBC lightweight champion was not only the decent thing to do, it was manifestly the proper legal and administrative adjudication, given that former champion Jose Luis Castillo had not made the contracted lightweight weight limit and had, for lack of a more circumscribing word, cheated. If the term ‘cheated’ denies Castillo any moral wiggling room, given the pride he initially showed after dispensing with Corrales in their much anticipated rematch, well, we might also say he earned that particular distinction.
Of course, we should never forget that Corrales, himself, is not unfamiliar with beating smaller people, defenseless people who happen to be pregnant and contracted to him via marriage. Maria Corrales, the then Mrs. Corrales, suffered a broken collarbone, two fractured ribs, facial marks, and a bruised spine from an enraged Mr. Corrales, then aged twenty-three. Yes, he was convicted, given a two year sentence and justice was done; but, we caution that there’s no high moral ground leading into this contest. Where morality abuts circumstance time dissolves.
Speaking of trilogies, boxing historians tend to remind us that the fighter who wins the rematch most often wins the rubber match. Jersey Joe Walcott, obviously, never feared the directives of history. Still, both fighters acknowledge the power and potential of the other. Corrales himself has repeated his belief that their third fight will be violent and dangerous for both men. In his version of future events, he’s the one who will be left standing, with options to rule at 135 or charge up to 140 his for the taking. Curious though, how Corrales tries to persuade us, as if reminding us, he’s the fighter with superior talent, the ‘smarter’ fighter.
Castillo has gone out of his way to laud the ability and power hitting ability of Corrales. Knowing how “Chico” was able to dent and damage him in their May 7, 2005 war of ambition has left an indelible respect, no matter the need for confident bravado. Naturally enough “El Temible” still thinks he’s the guy who will be doing most of the punishing for the high rollers at the Thomas and Mack Center. What else could the man who gave the great Mayweather such pressurizing grief – twice – say concerning the fight that might lead him to a classic punch-out against would-be-legend Miguel Cotto in November?
We don’t have to listen to the camp talk. Quotes by Castillo and Corrales don’t even leave the sting of contentious debate. Their words add nothing to our anticipation. Where you can’t enjoy a Bernard Hopkins fight, fully, without listening to his maligning pontifications, what would be the point in detailing tactics or psychology between these two commandos of hell-bent leather? It must be said, they love to fight, surging and surviving, battering to bathe the night’s aura with trauma. Therein you have the bottom line with Castillo meeting Corrales. Because they have already proven to us that their respective styles and methods are instantaneous combustion. The kinetics of their warring does not seek out deception nor defensive dissembling, not when the ultimate determinations are so tempting, just laying before them, tempting their sense of plundering attack.
We all know the outcome of their third fight – each having registered one stoppage – at least we understand the concussive repercussions one of them will have to suffer and then live with for the rest of his career and life. So much comes down to understanding the difference between susceptibility and vulnerability. Castillo’s lack of regimental training meant he had to crash weight to make the lightweight championship limit of 135. Weakening the body so close to the fight by starving the physiology and dehydrating the brain was the contributing factor to Castillo being susceptible to Corrales’ best blows late in their first fight. True, we state this supposition as if gilded with gold.
But in asserting Castillo as the inherently stronger individual we conversely place Corrales back into his more traditional position as a talented but ultimately vulnerable boxer/puncher. For all of his endurance against Castillo in their first fight, the rematch result, Weightgate or not, seemed like the more normative result when the irresistible force of Castillo’s rugged determinism pits itself against Corrales’ explosive and speedy boxing to bomb opportunism.
We need the fight to give us the final result, but, certainly Jose Sulaiman and the WBC effectively took away that lingering camp fear of Castillo crashing to make weight by monitoring him all along, as if the appearance of propriety was the same as objectivity. We restate for emphasis that in this fight carnage looms as the only reasonable outcome, unmitigated, expected. Where the middleweight championship showdown between Jermain Taylor and Ronald “Winky” Wright will likely be decided by one of the fighters perfecting sustainable defensive integrity for stalemating and a narrow points win or one champion seizing upon one of the very few defining moments to turn the contest’s negation into victory, Castillo-Corrales will be without artful circumscriptions. The lightweight showdown will generate offense as the continuum of their fighting generates the final thrusting of a considerable rivalry. But in the ending to come, the final dispatching of the loser can’t diminish what their first classic fight meant.
So often the radiation put out from a nuclear first encounter both sustains and shadows the ultimate fight, Ali-Frazier III, the Manila finale, the notable exception. Corrales, at 28, believes he’s still a young man, the scars of his winning and losing no detriment to the evolution to his work. And he wants to be productive and honest about the life he’s reconstructed. The former champion Castillo, who believes himself the champion at lightweight still, can see Cotto as clearly as Corrales. In the clarity of empty days, Castillo lets himself think of trading upon his fame for a chance at guys like Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton. For what, compared to his glories, have they definitively proved? If he plays his cards right those fights can be his. All it takes is putting your reputation and perhaps your health on the line.
Isn’t that what fighters like Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales have come to expect of their ambition?
For all of their negatives, all the mistakes of their lives, both Corrales and Castillo have adoring fans that see them in splendor born of the blood of martyrdom. For whatever cause they fight, their acts of revulsion and glory absorb the imagination for the time that they expel the talents of their calling. In the ring, near to obliteration, they are faithful to the most basic human elements such as agony endured. So we allow them to put a happy face on ancient wounds and questionable methods making up what we might judge fractious lives. Every time they continue on with their athletic careers, ruthlessly entertaining our latent hungers, they ask for a second chance, yet another stage to prove the relative merits of ignominies overcome.
At least they are willing to pay the ultimate price for so much tenacity personified.