Big Turnaround – Carlos [Monzon] never did stop walking on the wild side and certainly never found the secret to controlling the raging temper that he mastered so well within the roped square. —Mike Casey
Opponents could never be sure what was going to spring out of Pascual “El León” Perez’s bag of tricks next. His arsenal was vast, and he knew when to press the action against fading foes. Given all of his accomplishments, in terms of name recognition, Perez is still underappreciated–-Marty Mulcahey
Boxing and drama are intertwined, and for gaudy records, great nicknames, legendary fights and especially high drama, I have always had a special fondness for fighters from Argentina. With the greatness and then sudden deaths of Carlos “Escopeta “(aka Shotgun) Monzon and “Vicious” Victor Galindez, thetragicomedy: of Oscar “Ringo” Bonavena, the incredible defensive wizardry of Nicolino “El Intocable” Locche, and more recently, the flair of Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez, the swagger of Marcus René “El Chino” Maidana and the excitement ofLucas Martin Matthysse, the Argentineans have made a lasting impression on boxing, There have been others too numerous to list here, but few, except aficionados knew (or know) much aboutJorge Castro, probably because most of his fights were in Argentina.
The iron-chinned Castro fought the very best during a long 20-year career. Fighting as a pro since 1987, he went undefeated in his first 39 professional fights before losing to Lorenzo Luis Garcia (70-9-13 coming in) but his lifetime record against Garcia was 3-1. No stranger to championship belts and fights, he won the WBA Middleweight Title, the South American Cruiserweight Title, WBA Fedelatin Super Middleweight Title, the Argentine (FAB) Light Middleweight Title, and the South American Light Middleweight Title. He also battled for the WBC Cruiserweight Title, the IBF Cruiserweight Title, and the IBO Cruiserweight Title.
Among his ring accomplishments, he split a pair with the great Roberto Duran, beating him in 1997 and holds two wins each over Reggie Johnson (for the vacant WBA Middleweight Title) and John David Jackson. He also beat Peter Venancio (three times), Hector Hugo Vilte, Alex Ramos, Juan Carlos Gimenez Ferreyra, Fabian Alberto Chancalay, Imamu Mayfield, Derrick Harmon, and many other notables. His losses were against the likes of Sebastiaan Rothmann (who won the battle but lost the war and was never the same), undefeated Shinji Takehara, Terry Norris, undefeated Vasily Jirov, a prime Paul Briggs, undefeated Juan Carlos Gomez, and legendary Roy Jones, Jr.
The Setting (1994)
American middleweight John David Jackson was streaking at 32-0 when he met Argentinian boxer/puncher Jorge “Locomotora” Castro (95-4-2 at the time) in an undercard bout to Felix Trinidad vs. Oba Carr and Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Tony Lopez. The PPV card was on neutral ground at the Estadio de Beisbol in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico on December 10, 1994. At stake was Castro’s WBA World Middleweight Title which he had won against Reggie Johnson earlier that year. Jackson, the former undefeated holder of the WBA title (he was stripped of the title for participating in a non-title fight), was clearly no slouch and had wins over Lupe Aquino, Chris Pyatt, Tyrone Trice, Reggie Johnson, and James “Hard Rock” Green.
The Big Turnaround
The fight featured one of the most dramatic endings in boxing history. Round 9 was named Round of the Year. Castro, heavy-handed and an outstanding counter puncher, was trailing badly on all three scorecards (71-80, 73-80 and 74-79). One eye was closed and the other was half closed. He was bleeding badly and pinned against the ropes in the ninth taking wicked shots and combos. Jackson was using him as a heavy bag.
Finally, legendary referee Stanley Christodoulou positioned himself to stop what had become a mauling as Jackson went for the certain kill. Just as Christodoulou started to raise his hands to signal the stoppage, Castro countered with a well-leveraged left hook on Jackson’s chin and Jackson went down like he had been sapped.
All of a sudden, instead of stopping the fight in Jackson’s favor, Christodoulou began counting out Jackson. John David somehow managed to get up but he was done; he was ripe for the taking. He suffered two more quick and savage knockdowns and, with the 3-knockdown rule in effect, “Locomotora” completed the incredible comeback and retained his title with a decisive knockout in the ninth round. Clearly, this had been one of the most amazing, if unlikeliest, turnarounds in boxing history. Shades of Hearns-Barkley, Castillo-Corrales, Graham Earl-Michael Katsidis — Here it is in all its drama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feDnIAWjD_o
“ La mano de Dios”
At a press conference after the fight, Castro called his winning punch “La mano de Dios,” (The hand of God). The ending to that fight became legendary in Argentinean lore and was written about for months in many boxing magazines and books. In 1998, proving the first win was no fluke; Castro again beat Jackson this time by a close UD. He decked John David in the 4th and 8th rounds to win the vacant WBA Fedelatin Super Middleweight Title.
Many of Castro’s opponents have long since retired. Ramos is now involved with the Retired Boxers Foundation; Norris and Duran have been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Takehara and Jirov have retired while John David Jackson (with a final mark of 36-4) has become a leading trainer. Sadly, Jones fights on.
Still more drama
Jorge finally retired with an amazing 130-11-3 record (with an eye-popping 90 KOs) after crushing Colombian Jose Luis “La Pantera” Herrera (14-2 coming in) at the Municipal Patinódromo in Buenos Aires on January 27, 2007. In so doing, he avenged a previous loss in which Castro had been decked twice and TKOed by Herrera in four rounds in April 2006, only the second stoppage loss in his long career and in Argentina no less. . What made the loss even more shocking was that Castro was coming off a solid TKO win over capable Derrick Harmon.
Of course, in between, he had recuperated from a serious motorcycle accident and this likely played a role in his defeat. Still, given his awful showing, many thought it was time for Castro to finally end his glorious career and were amazed that he would even consider fighting again. For his part, the young and eager Herrera was poised to duplicate matters and send “Locomotora” out to pasture, but lo and behold he quickly became one panther in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Locomotora” redeemed himself and floored Herrera four times and also forced a standing eight-count in the second round before referee Luis Carlos Guzman stepped in and called a halt to the quick butchering at the 2:28 mark.
While there was plenty of drama surrounding the circumstances of both fights with Herrera, the career of Jorge “Locomotora” Castro will always be defined by “La Manos de Dios.”
Hopefully, Castro will get a call one of these days from Canastota because he deserves it. Like Hall of Famer Eder Jofre, 72-2-4 with 50 KOs, considered to be the best Brazilian boxer of all time—and arguably the greatest bantamweight of all time—Castro flew under the radar far too long without getting his appropriate due.
Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records. He enjoys writing about boxing.