LAS VEGAS, June 5 – The Earth is 4.6 billion years old, but as Jose Luis Castillo would probably add, “give or take an eon.” I can’t wait for him to receive a guest worker’s assignment as head of the Bureau of Weights and Measures. Far be it for me to poke fun at someone else’s problems on the scale, it seems that the Mexican warrior had a very easy way out of his predicament, which should cost him $250,000 – the maximum fine that can be levied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, in addition to being benched by either suspension or license revocation – not to mention the loss of a $900,000 payday, and who knows how much in lawsuits.
Castillo’s rubber match with Diego (Chico) Corrales could easily have been saved. Corrales himself said how on the Showtime telecast that, unfortunately, did not include a satisfactory ending to the rivalry.
All Castillo had to do, Corrales said, was reach out. “Why couldn’t you call me and say you couldn’t make weight, we could have made it at a catch weight,” said Corrales. He said if neither had to make the 135-pound lightweight limit, at least it would have been “an even playing field – you don’t make weight, I don’t make weight.”
I’m sure the WBC, or any of the other hungry bodies, would have been glad to sanction Corrales-Castillo III as an “official eliminator” for the 140-pound title and the show could have gone on without having to feature the artless Vic Darchinyan hammering some poor sap.
For Castillo, or his camp, not to have made even a courtesy call to Corrales is downright rude. To lie about how he was “on target” to make weight was, as Corrales promoter Gary Shaw suggested, nothing less than “fraud.”
It also brings into question the competence – at the very least – of the WBC, which was allegedly monitoring Castillo’s process in training. Twice, the WBClowns reported everything was all right. Bob Arum, who did not feel the need to check further, especially since his partner in Castillo, Fernando Beltran, was assuring him that the weight watchers saw nothing wrong. Imagine, afterwards, there was Arum complaining, “I had been lied to.”
This was not “another black eye for boxing.” It was a low blow committed by Castillo and his entourage and he will take the hit, not the sport. He and Corrales gave the game blood and guts in their first meeting 13 months ago. But Castillo has sullied that great fight with his behavior since, failing to make weight for the rematch and having a member of the camp try to jiggle the scales during the weigh-in. Arum pointed out that it was even crazier that Castillo made 138 pounds earlier this year in a “tune-up” but couldn’t get below 139.5 last week.
“He has disgraced everything,” said Corrales. “He has disgraced all that we have accomplished.”
He pointed out that “this has only happened twice and it shouldn’t have happened to us.”
Hey, it’s happened before. Weigh-ins used to be one of my favorite segments of the game, like the time Wilfredo Gomez – well overweight the morning of his fight with Salvador Sanchez – stole the official scales, bringing them to his room at Caesars Palace (the casino substituted scales used to monitor incoming supplies of beef and such). There was the time Thomas Hearns, for his title shot against Pipino Cuevas, needed to be taken that morning to Detroit’s Oriental Health Spa and Massage Parlor and then was overcooked, coming in at 145½ pounds. If he didn’t knock out Cuevas in the second round, who knows how much strength he would have had later in the fight.
And, of course, there was Eddie Mustafa Muhammad’s refusal to even try and make weight for his rematch against Michael Spinks in Washington D.C. By the time the fight was called off that evening, the military had set up shop at the host hotel after a riot broke out at one meeting. In Washington, such fracases within a mile of the White House are taken very seriously and in order to get into the hotel, you had to go past a check point. The elevators and all floors were patrolled by rifle-toting soldiers.
My favorite moment, however, might be during a one-on-one interview I had with Jackie Mason, the great comic who sounds just like the late great cutman, Bill Prezant. Mason was hired by a network to host the live weigh-in of the Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks match in Atlantic City. I asked Mason whom he liked in the weigh-in.
“Weigh-in?” he said. “If I were Spinks, I’d look for the way out.”
Showtime announcer Steve Albert called Castillo’s behavior “disgusting, embarrassing and unprofessional.” He shouldn’t mince words. But part of me empathizes with Castillo. It is too easy to give up the battle of the bulge. Castillo, weak and emaciated, should not have had to try. Yes, Corrales wisely did not risk his health by going ahead with an over-the-weight match, as he did last October. He saved the show then, but not his equilibrium.
But there was danger, too, to Castillo if the fight had taken place. He had to be helped up to get on the scales Friday. He might have needed such aid Saturday.
Life goes on. This weekend, we have split-screen pay-per-view shows – one from Atlantic City involving the big names, Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins, but likely a better fight, for as long as it lasts, in New York between Miguel Cotto and Paul Malignaggi. If you have two TV sets and can watch both, Tarver-Hopkins might look like Cotto-Malignaggi, in slo-mo.
PENTHOUSE: Chico is still the man. He went ahead with the fight last October when Castillo failed to make weight, and he said he was “pretty close” to doing the same again. He gave up more than $1 million – his own purse, plus a $250,000 contractual penalty that Castillo would have had to pay him – for safety’s sake. Wise choice. His wife, Michelle, might have thrown a few pots at him. At least Chico will get another Showtime date in the fall. Castillo will be blacked out.
OUTHOUSE: I hate being obvious, especially since I once admired him as one of the most professional of fighters, but Castillo has harmed himself and his reputation far more than being placed here could ever do. He may no longer be a sure thing for the Hall of Fame. A shame, but right now I’m more concerned with the health of Albert Pujols.
MORE DISS AND THAT: Home from the sea is the sailor? So it looks like Oscar de la Hoya set out in his boat already leaning towards fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the fall since before departing he already had talked Floyd Mayweather Sr. to be in the corner. While Big Floyd will not get many Father’s Day cards this year – especially since he predicts Oscar will knock out his son. Earlier, he told Kevin Iole of the Las Vegas Review-Journal that while he may have taught Little Floyd all he knows, “I didn’t teach him all I know.” This, of course, will lead to Little Floyd’s perfect rejoinder: “Yeah, the part he didn’t teach me was how to lose.”…The father-son sidebar to the clash of titans will probably mean at least a quarter-million more pay-per-view sales….Sylvester Stallone couldn’t have sold this plot to Hollywood….Can’t wait for Big Floyd’s greatest poem, “An Ode to My Son.”….John Hornewer, Little Floyd’s attorney, thinks it might “rekindle culture in this country.”…You can get 5-2 on Hopkins on-line. Believe that was the price I got on him when he beat Felix Trinidad Jr. He’s certainly worth it because (a) he hired Mackie Shilstone, the guru who built Ozzie Smith into a hitter and helped shape Michael Spinks for a profitable career as a heavyweight, to fashion the former middleweight ruler into a light-heavyweight, and (b) he added John David Jackson, whom he once knocked out, to the corner. Jackson, one of the smartest boxers I’ve seen, took a break from training Sugar Shane Mosley to show Hopkins some tricks learned while sparring with Tarver….Besides, I’m of the opinion that Tarver, at 37 and having to come down in weight after bulking up to play a heavyweight opposite Stallone, may be more worn than Hopkins at 41….Malignaggi is a 7-2 underdog (Cotto is the 9-2 favorite and the middle is the vig where the books earn their profit) and while I might be tempted to make a parlay on him with Hopkins, I will resist. For the opening rounds, the loud but inexperienced Malignaggi may make this look like a mismatch – and Cotto will be doing the missing. But Cotto, while he may have the perfect style for the quicker Malignaggi to exploit, is smart and tough and can really bang, especially to the body. Sooner or later, the odds figure that he’ll catch up with the Brooklyn tyro. Should be fun to watch.