Mayweather – Castillo: The Most Argued Over Fight Of “Money’s” Career

Floyd Mayweather W12 Jose Luis Castillo at 20.

There are many fights that lead fight fans to often ask the question, who really won? For despite the official result that is attached to a good many fights, this result forever, there-is-nothing-we-can-do-about-it to be found in the record books, this does not stop the debating. One such fight today celebrates its 20th anniversary.

The result handed in in Las Vegas at the conclusion of Floyd Mayweather’s lightweight title challenge of WBC ruler Jose Luis Castillo, the result a pretty wide unanimous decision victory for the “Pretty Boy” who was not yet “Money,” instantly became controversial. And, boy, how the controversy grew and grew over the years, this as Mayweather’s star did likewise. As his numbers got bigger and bigger, with Mayweather eventually as we know getting all the way to a perfect 50-0, so the scrutiny increased, with so many people seemingly desperate to find a flaw on Floyd’s record.

The Castillo fight – though it could not be called a robbery to equal the likes of the Pernell Whitaker-Julio Cesar Chavez “draw,” or, more recently, the Josh Taylor-Jack Catterall verdict that resulted in death threats aimed at “winner” Taylor – continues to be the fight critics point to as proof that Mayweather actually lost a fight. Bolstered at the time by unofficial judge Harold Lederman of HBO (R.I.P), who had it a wide 115-111 for the Mexican warrior, Mayweather observers, be they firm supporters or firm critics (the fashionable term for such folk today being that of “hater”) were off and running, pointing to the fight as a clear loss for Floyd.

But the fight was a close affair (despite the official scores of 116-111, 115-111, 115-111, all for Mayweather), and it must never be forgotten how Mayweather was fighting with an injured shoulder, his left rotator cuff requiring post-fight surgery. Castillo, who had a slow start before coming on strong, making Mayweather work as he got in close and went to the body, may have won by a point or two, while Mayweather, who boxed very well considering he was carrying an injury (and no, this does not gain a fighter extra points), may have won by the same margin. Perhaps a draw would have been the fairest result?

There is no doubt, though – the fight of April 20, 2002 was the closest, the self-proclaimed “T.B.E” ever came to losing a fight. It’s interesting how Castillo’s pressure worked so well for him against Mayweather, as did pressure fighter Marcos Maidana’s heat serve him so well when he gave Mayweather a good run for his money some years later. It could be argued that if anyone was going to beat Floyd, it was going to be a pressure fighter who was blessed with power, discipline, a good chin and a good body attack in his arsenal.

But whether we like it or not, Castillo failed to defeat Mayweather, as did “49 other guys,” as Floyd was so keen to say. And let’s not forget that Mayweather, so superb as he was in rematches, won the sequel clearly (if, quite oddly, closer than the first fight on the official cards).

Imagine how much of a fuss Mayweather critics, or “haters,” would be making of the Castillo fight and its result fight all these years later if there had never been a rematch!