Corrales – Castillo 3?! Give It A Rest

08.12.05 - By Wray Edwards: Just when you thought it was safe to watch another boxing match, Diego and Jose have been scheduled for a third meeting. What the heck is going on here? Words like “trilogy” and “legendary” should be reserved for proper use. For openers, the first meeting of Diego Corrales and Jose Castillo (photo: Tom Casino / Showtime) was one of those rare events where the confluence of two warriors produced a prolonged, back-and-forth slug-fest of epic proportions. It wasn’t pretty (hit and not get hit), it was pretty ugly (hit and get creamed). The fight’s duration was perfect: almost the distance with an astounding, against all odds knockout.

It was a masterpiece of mayhem. It was not sweet science…it was brutal drama. The reaction of most fans, promoters and all concerned, placed the fight in company with the Thrilla in Manila, a Gatti-Ward clone, Elder-Burton, or several other meetings which will stand alone as classics for all time in the history of boxing. This writer was adamant that those who were prognosticating that a classic trilogy had just begun, were at best over-optimistic, and at worst hopelessly misguided. Told ya so. The second meeting was a complete mess. Jose’s problem at the scales immediately and completely invalidated the idea that this was the second fight of a possible trilogy..

IMO Castillo had not the slightest intention of making weight for that fight, and most responders readily agree. IMO pure, unadulterated, macho revenge drove Jose to participate. Statements like, “I said after the last fight that if they wanted to make this like the ‘Rocky’ movie series, I did not care. I will fight Corrales five or six times” or “I was very happy to win, but also sad because I could not make weight. I let the people down, but I got my vindication by knocking out Corrales.”

The key word here is “vindication” another form of which is vindictive, a pretty good synonym for revenge. Of course there’s nothing wrong with paybacks…especially in boxing, as long as they are conducted within the rules. Castillo’s conscious or unconscious choice was, IMO, to eschew the rigors of making weight and plot pure revenge. Bleeding hearts might attempt to claim mouthpiece infractions (the consequences of which are points deductions for one or two and DQ for a third) are on a par with missing weight. On the contrary, missing weight is grounds for immediate DQ and stripping of titles. Only Diego’s questionable choice to continue with the fight, saved Castillo’s vengeful bacon, and gave Jose the opportunity to get back.

This was, for Castillo, a pyrrhic “victory.” Not only did he commit the most amateurish infraction in the sport, which idolizes weight divisions, but he forfeited the opportunity to reclaim the warrior’s insignia of fair victory; the Championship belts. One may speculate what forces, both financial and personal, drove Chico to take the match. It was too much, too soon for the wrong reasons. Diego had the perfect opportunity to see what Castillo had in mind and avoid that fight. He also had the right.

What IS a “trilogy” in the sport of Boxing? It is three fights between the same two boxers who have properly qualified for each event. If, as sometimes happens, they split the first two, the third contest is called the rubber match, or best two-out-of-three. The events do not have to be consecutive. Fighters can take other matches in between. That, by the way, seems best in the author’s estimation. If the contests are consecutive, one risks beating a dead horse, going once too often to the well, or wearing out the concept.

A decent interval, and other opponents, build anticipation, inject variety and prevent the reported, boring similitude of Taylor-Hopkins II… another perfect case in point. This writer ignored that fight for just the reasons mentioned in the paragraph above. It went something like this: “Well you really should watch…it’s your job. Yeah, but just can’t shake the feeling that it will be more of the same. Better watch…you’ll be out of the loop. ‘Loop’ is the key word…you know, over and over and over again. Suit yourself pal.”

So instead of a Taylor-Hopkins déjà vu, the teenage son got a really nice winter coat. It was that little voice, “Don’t get the PPV. You’ll be sorry.” The possibility that Diego-Jose III might not be PPV could be a clear sign that redundancy is rearing its ugly head, and they know it. Milking the cow to death or killing the goose instead of waiting for the next golden egg to emerge in due time, possibly betrays lack of patience and faith in the process. What’s the rush? The sport has, especially in these divisions, a rhythm which has worked quite well of late. If either art, or science are forced, failure is courted.

The nostalgic momentum created by the first fight was irreparably derailed by the Castillo faux pas at the scales and any chance for a legitimate trilogy was lost. Chico’s first coherent words after the KO were, “What happened?” We know what happened Chico. You went back in the ring too soon with the wrong guy. Instead of waiting a decent interval and taking a couple of interim fights with say Frietas, Raheem or Chavez, you bought into the hype and tried for a successful sequel. Those matches would have been quite lucrative. The second fight was as disappointing as the first was enthralling.

Instead of an immediate rematch, in-betweeners should have been in the contract. Frantic petitions to “invoke” number three demonstrate, we think, a desperate and not well thought-out effort to save the tainted trilogy and, somehow, Chico’s reputation. Besides, there is some degree of precedent to require a defeated champion to fight one or two eliminators to qualify for another shot at the title. Immediate rematches are nepotistic and thwart the variety which would result from giving other top contenders a shot. Instead of letting two guys hog the belts between them as they play tit-for-tat, send duffers like Hopkins down the line a bit.

Such practices would serve to prevent boring homogenization of the sport to a privileged few. By severely limiting the amount of time a boxer can hold a title while claiming medical problems, and giving championships a more active population by requiring more eliminators, the sport could not help but improve. Dare we consider fewer divisions and sanctions? How about bringing back fifteen rounds and scales by the ring? Is this a professional sport or a WWE stepchild?

With all its faults, Boxing seems somehow to hang on. Just when you think it’s safe to watch a boxing match Hopkins-Taylor II and Corrales-Castillo II land on the front porch like a dead cat. Really desperate fans might cling to the opinion that a four round debacle is better than no fight at all, but properly informed match-making and a reasonable sense of rhythm will go a long way in preventing repeats of recent clap-trap posers like Jones-Tarver III. If Jones had been required to qualify through two or three eliminators he might have done better. He might have shed some rust and gotten back into the swing of things before jumping right to the top.

Tell ya what. If the Corrales-Castillo III event is general broadcast, yours truly might turn it on. If Corrales stays outside a bit more, we might keep it on for a while. If they fight at a catch weight, that will be just another departure from any legitimate use of the word trilogy. When you get right down to it, Castillo (assuming he really did try to make weight) became yet another victim of the totally absurd practice of weight-shifting. Some boxers fight at or near their walking around weight and stay in shape all the time. The more professional ones do. Those who play the “weighting game” damage the sport and make a mockery of the weight division ethic. Why doesn’t somebody do something to fix all of this? See you at the fights.

Article posted on 08.12.2005

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