There are quite a few big fight anniversaries here in the month of May. Yet, for some, in fact, for many, the biggest, best and most brutally memorable fight from this month that simply has to be celebrated by all, is the all-out war 135-pound warriors Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo put on.
It was 15 years ago today, at The Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas when “Chico” met the rough, tough and clever Mexican. What followed was a savage fight, one with an ending so stunning it left even hardened observers such as Dan Rafael “literally shaking” (Dan’s words).
From the opening bell, these two superbly conditioned, fearless and fearsome prizefighters gave us something truly special. Scarcely letting up the breakneck pace, let alone looking to initiate a clinch, Coralles and Castillo tore at one another – for nine incredible rounds. Stood toe-to-toe, looking to take each other to some hellish place the two seemed to have made a silent pact on going to, both men were giving way too much. Something had to give.
The display of trading, of the hard, well-placed blows, was gut-wrenching. The relatively small crowd was being treated to an epic. A war. A once-in-a-lifetime fight!
Then came the extraordinary tenth round, the last round of the fight that had already bagged the 2005 Fight Of The Year award. What took place in the tenth elevated a great fight into a fight that would live forever.
Both men were exhausted; both were marked up and had shed blood. Then Castillo decked Corrales hard. “Chico” bought precious seconds as his mouth-piece came out. Up but soon sent south a second time, Corrales this time deliberately spat out the gumshield. He got more extra time but was deducted a point. But points were the least of it. This was now a fight for survival.
And then, somehow, someway, doing something no exhausted fighter had a right to do, Corrales, digging deep into his very soul, roared back at Castillo and, hurting him and trapping him on the ropes, put everything he had left into his weakened, deadweight arms and banged away to force the stoppage. It was jaw-dropping. It was almost too much for even a seasoned fight fan to comprehend.
Diego Corrales had come back from certain defeat to smash the fight out of Castillo how nobody knows.
The greatest fight of all time? Maybe. Plenty of people say Corrales KO10 Castillo deserves the golden distinction – placing the battle above even the classic Ali-Frazier, Hagler-Hearns, Barrera-Morales, and Gatti-Ward sizzlers.
Bottom line, it’s down to opinion and nothing more. But no fight fan can compile a credible Top-10 greatest fights ever and not have a spot for the dizzying action that went down 15 years ago today.
What a crying shame “Chico” is no longer with us, no longer able to bask in the truly deserved praise his sensational heroics earned him in 2005.