Enough has been written about the incredible fight that took place 13 years ago today – and quite rightly, too. Many experts, since witnessing the pure savagery and brilliance Corrales and Castillo provided, place the fight firmly in the top three or four greatest fights in history. They are not wrong.
The pace was frenetic from the opening bell. Neither man was willing to give an inch and the resulting action had the crowd, that was actually far from a sell-out one, at fever pitch. But then came THAT round, the tenth. Marked up badly around the eyes and tiring, Corrales was sent crashing to the floor twice in the session. Only to scrape himself off the canvas on both occasions and score a comeback KO win that was, without exaggeration, seemingly impossible. He got up, somehow regrouped or fired away on blind instinct (it’s open to interpretation which) and pinned Castillo on the ropes. Whereupon “Chico” blazed away with an accumulation of punches that prompted the referee, Tony Weeks, to dive in and rescue Castillo.
Those in attendance had just witnessed one of the most mesmerising displays of heart and guts ever seen in a boxing ring. Corrales was the winner at two minutes and six seconds of round number ten. His place in boxing history, whatever else should follow, had been secured.
It is somewhat ironic that the date of this epic brawl, May 7th, is the very date on which Diego died. And while there were more fights to come from Corrales after that incredible night on which he refused to accept he’d been beaten, he would never again have the same fire in his belly. Yes, there was controversy about how Corrales had bought extra seconds by spitting out his gum shield in the fight. Yes, they fought a rematch and this time an over-the-weight Castillo prevailed by a fourth round KO. Yes, Corrales then lost his rubber match with Cassamayor. And yes, “Chico” then lost his debut up at welterweight, to Joshua Clottey.
But due to all he gave in the ring, due to the incredible fights he did win, fans don’t hold it against Coralles that he lost his last three fights. Corrales, like Arturo Gatti, has a special place in boxing history; both deceased fighters are ranked among the bravest and most courageous fighters of all-time. There can be no more fitting a tribute to bare out the fact that this is just what Diego Corrales was, than his first fight with Jose Luis Castillo.
Some fans prefer the first epic between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, others the third brutal encounter between Ali and Frazier, while others still list the frenetic Hagler-Hearns war as their favourite all-time fight. Many millions of fight fans cherish the classic that took place 13 years ago today. Who tires of watching this one!