The Courage and Fire of Diego Corrales

photo by tom casino08.05.07 - By Anthony Coleman, photo by Tom Casino: When asked what my favorite fight is in all my years of boxing, there is always one answer that pops into my head: Corrales-Castillo I. To me that match represents all that is dramatic, all that is great of the sport of boxing. I’ll go one step further: Corrales-Castillo I was the greatest sporting event I’ve ever seen-bar none. The fight was that good.

For ten rounds Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo produced perhaps the most brutal, most intense, and hellacious fight in the long history of our sport. In my mind it is unquestionably the greatest lightweight title fight ever. I myself can remember watching the fight live on Showtime sitting on the edge of my seat jumping up and down with each punch that Corrales and Castillo landed. Through 9 rounds I was mesmerized. Then came the tenth round..

Early in the round Castillo would catch Corrales flush with a perfect left hook and Corrales would crumple to the ground in a heap. He would beat the count, but he was in bad shape. Seconds later he would be back on the canvas courtesy of another Castillo left hook to the head. Again, Corrales would beat the count and be deducted a full point for spitting out his mouth piece. At that moment most boxing observers thought that the fight was almost over. It was, but the only surprise was the victor.

Within seconds Castillo advanced and Corrales caught him with a left hook to the head that wobbled him. Then Corrales would catch him again with another left hook that seriously hurt him. Then Chico would land a huge combination while Castillo was trapped on the ropes and the fight was stopped. I can’t think of any other bout that ended in such a dramatic climatic way and to me that summed up Diego Corrales’ astonishing career. He was down, he was hurt, but through his unbelievable courage, heart and determination he was able to gut it through and pull the genie-out-of-the-bottle and win the fight. As well as with Castillo, Corrales also pulled the genie out against Justin Juuko and in his title winning effort against Roberto Garcia. Even when he couldn’t pull out that miraculous victory, like in his ill-fated showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr; Corrales always got up ready to soldier on and prove himself to be one of boxing’s true warriors. That is what I always will remember about him.

Last night, two years to the day after his breathtaking bout with Jose Luis Castillo, Corrales died when his motorcycle rear ended a car. To say that I was shocked after hearing the news was an understatement. I could not believe that this young man, who had his whole life ahead of him, would be taken from his family, his friends, his fans in such a way. It truly is a tragedy.

Corrales was by no means a perfect man. He served a year-and-a-half in prison for brutally beating up his first wife. Also, the courage he showed in the ring came at a terrible cost to his skills. By the time he met Joel Casamayor last year for the WBC lightweight strap, it was evident that he lost much of his skills in his two epic fights with Jose Luis Castillo.

Yet it is also speaks volumes about his character that he was able to fully rebuild his life after his one-sided loss to Floyd Mayweather and his jail-sentence. He was able to become a pound-for-pound fixture and a father and husband for the second time. If you ever want to hear a true inspiring rising for the ashes story, listen to Corrales’ story.

However, today I ask for all boxing fans to just remember Diego “Chico” Corrales for the great fighter he once was. Remember him as one of the very best punchers in the history of our sport. Remember him as a father, husband and a man of faith. Most importantly, remember Diego Corrales for his heart and courage, something that will forever be documented in his thrilling first fight with Jose Luis Castillo. God bless you Diego Corrales-you will be missed.

Article posted on 08.05.2007

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