Nine Years Ago Next Month He Pushed Floyd Mayweather To The Limit For A Second Time, Tonight He Soldiers On Against A 26-21 Journeyman - The Strange Career Of Jose Luis Castillo

jose luis castilloBy James Slater: How the mighty have fallen. In his heyday, Jose Luis Castillo was up there with the true cream of Mexican warriors. The fighter born in Sonora on Dec. 14th in 1973 worked his way up through bouts that contested the Mexican featherweight title, all the way to becoming a dominant, long-reigning two-time WBC lightweight king.

Along the way in his 2000 to 2005 prime, “El Terrible” thrilled fans the world over, with epic fights against the likes of Diego Corrales (twice, the first fight between the two generally considered one of the top-five fights of all-time), Floyd Mayweather Junior (also twice, Castillo coming closer than any other fighter ever has to beating “Money”) and Juan Lazcano and Joel Casamayor. There is no doubt, Castillo proved his greatness; battling the best and beating a number of fine fighters.

The downward slope began in June of 2007, when a financially demoralised Castillo was either unable, or chose not to, get up from a Ricky Hatton body shot in the 4th-round of a 140-pound clash. Having had severe problems making 140, let alone 135, Castillo, by now aged 34 and sporting a 55-7-1 record, was sliding into trial horse status.

Always in need of cash, the former two-time champ battled on, winning a few, losing to Sebastian Lujan, and then winning a few more. Then came a corner retirement of a loss to the comparatively light-punching Alfonso Gomez in early 2010, and many thought the one-time P-4-P entrant had at last fought his last fight. But no, Castillo came back in June of 2010 and has since won two (against a duo who had a combined record of 56-64-4) and also lost a points decision to comparative novice Jorge Paez Junior. That 12-round UD defeat came in March of this year, and as humbling as it must have been for the former great, future Hall of Famer, Castillo hasn’t given up the ghost yet (maybe he can’t, due to financial problems?)

Tonight, on the under-card of the Humberto Soto-Adailton De Jesus non-title fight, Castillo, now 62-11-1(53) will face tough journeyman Sammy Ventura, 26-21(20). On paper, Castillo, as faded as he is, should have enough left to be able to beat his fellow countryman. Ventura, in facing good men like Oscar Larios, Robert Guerrero, Jason Litzau and Marco Antonio Barrera, has lost almost as many as he has won and the 36-year-old has been stopped 18 times. But how much, if anything, does Castillo have left today?

Tonight’s fight is set at welterweight (37-year-old Castillo has fought as high as 158 quite recently) and anything could happen when the bell rings. But even if Castillo does manage to pick up a win, what will it lead to? Castillo last won a truly meaningful fight back in 2007, yet he soldiers on; another once great fighter proving how rare happy endings are in the sport of boxing.

Article posted on 26.11.2011

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