Wlad v. Castillo – You Know What This is About

20.04.05 - By Tony Fondacaro: Of all the things Eliseo Castillo thought he would be in his boxing career, I don’t think he ever imagined himself being the litmus test of Wladimir Klitschko; the heavyweight who couldn’t. He’s an undefeated, relatively talented fighter whose biggest win is a unanimous decision over Michael Moorer last July.. Before that he knocked out 314th ranked Drexie James in the first round, perhaps proving that bums were a little too out of his league. Possibly, but Castillo is ranked 67th currently. Could be worse; Wladimir could be fighting the 157th guy… Kevin McBride.

All the brouhaha for Klitschko v. Castillo goes back to March 8, 2003, when Corrie Sanders put on a shock and awe clinic for Wladimir. Instead of a fight that Wladimir should have won outright, as the up-and-coming star in the heavyweight division, it turned into cat-and-mouse, with Sanders literally chasing the huge Ukraine around the ring, dropping him and winning the match inside two rounds.

Wladimir looked horrible that night, and in a way, everything’s been about trying to undo that embarrassing loss ever since. Let’s face it—when a guy takes a beating like that, it doesn’t go away so quickly. We talk about being able to bounce back from losses and get back to form, but how do you take losing a two-round blowout like that, especially when you’re the next big thing? And it’s not like Wlad got caught with a so-called lucky shot, or that he was woefully outmatched, or that Wlad actually put up a fight and got out boxed. Wlad was never in that fight, and everything since has been about trying to undo the stink from Klitschko v. Sanders.

Unfortunately for Wlad, things haven’t gone the way you usually want them to go when you’re trying to regain face. He came off the Sanders loss and demolished Fabio Moli for the vacant WBA International Title, defended against Danell Nicholson (who hasn’t fought since), and then lost to Lamon Brewster in a five-round TKO. Comeback train officially halted. Then the rather unconvincing win to DaVarryl Williamson. I think I speak for boxing fans world-over when I say “That’s not what a win in boxing looks like.” A lot of people wonder about whether or not Lewis would have lost to Vitali Klitschko in their match had the cuts not been gaping. People should ask the same kind of questions about Wlad v. DaVarryl.

So you see, Castillo shouldn’t be worried at all, nobody’s going to be watching him. All eyes are on Wlad, and those previously talented hands of his. There was a time when everyone thought that Wlad’s older brother Lurch was the less talented one, now everyone believes the opposite. Of course, Vitali has been on a tear recently, and some would say he’s in his prime, if he could only stay out of the doctor’s office. The way things are going, we’ll have to wait until Christmas of 2007 for Klitschko v. Rahman to actually happen. It would be beneficial to Wlad to take advantage of that, because not only has he had to fight the demons that come with his recent mishaps, but he’s also had to deal with the fact that his brother is champ, and widely regarded as the vastly superior Klitschko. That’s not to say Vitali wouldn’t be considered good if Wlad wasn’t around, but you have to stop and think—if Vitali wasn’t around, what would we think of Wlad?

In my opinion, we’d probably compare him to someone like Kirk Johnson, unbeaten until a sudden halt to the proceedings at the hands of Ruiz, then another defeat to Vitali a short time later. A comparison with Tua might be fitting in that a lot of people feel that we haven’t seen what Tua is really capable of (holding a WBC/WBA belt). I would have to say that Wlad is in the same position with boxing fans—we could give him the respect we give to the top guys, but we just haven’t seen all he should have accomplished, and we fear that we may never. In boxing, that hurts baby, because as fans we don’t like being denied a great show, and the fact that they can’t harness all that their capable of drives boxers crazy. The words “Mike” and “Tyson” come to mind.

Castillo is not a fight for Wlad to use as a catapult to higher contention. A fight with a fighter like Castillo confirms that Wlad is still in the rebuilding phase, someplace he’s been for two years. Many writers feel that this win is a must for Wlad to salvage any hopes of coming back. Gee, ya think? News flash boys; Wlad has about nine or ten more “must wins” in store if he’s trying to hit his former heights. It’s about removing all doubt again, especially against a group like Sanders, Castillo and Williamson. I would say, after a first or second round KO of Castillo, give Danny Williams a shot at Wlad next, then perhaps Sam Peter, then rematch Williamson. Hell, rematch Sanders if you want; it’s a fight you should have won to begin with! Remove all doubt. Move on up higher then, and take on guys like Tua, Barrett, Maskaev. After solid wins, then you fight a champ.

For Castillo, I don’t think a loss to Wlad would mean too much, but then again a win might mean something. It wouldn’t be so great an accomplishment to push him up 50 places at one time (which seems to be the way the divisions do things nowadays), but it would give him a decent push.

Who cares though, this isn’t about Castillo. It might not even be about Wlad. It’s about our perception, our willingness to give someone our trust to not lose. When you get creamed in the second round, you lose that trust, and what a long, lonely road that is back, unless you’re Lennox Lewis.

Article posted on 20.04.2005

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