An Underrated Performance From “Chico”
Think about Diego Corrales, as many of us fight fans often do these days, and chances are big you will conjure up images of his epic fight with Jose Luis Castillo (for many THE greatest fight of recent times), or maybe his brave but losing and knockdown-filled fight with Floyd Mayweather. But “Chico” gave us so many other special performances and he also registered a good number of impressive wins.
Case in point, Corrales’ win from 20 years ago today: his utter destruction of the talented and gifted Derrick Gainer. Gainer might have been known as “Smoke,” but Corrales was way too hot and way too hard-hitting for the man from Pensacola.
The fight, one that saw Corrales, unbeaten at an impressive 30-0 and making the third defense of his IBF 130 pound title, proved to be pretty much no contest. The tall and lanky, dangerously powerful Corrales was matched by Gainer for a couple of sessions before “Chico” turned on the power in the third. Sending southpaw Gainer down twice, Corrales got the stoppage win that would set up a massive fight with Floyd Mayweather. The stoppage might have been a little premature/controversial in the eyes of some, but Corrales was too much for Gainer.
Mayweather fought on the same card that night in Las Vegas two decades ago, decisioning Gregorio Vargas to retain his WBC belt, and now the stage was set. Mayweather and Corrales fought in January of the following year, but this time it would be Corrales who was on the wrong end of a hammering – being knocked down no less than five times by Mayweather (arguably Floyd’s finest performance) and eventually being stopped in the tenth round.
But upon exiting the arena on the night of March 18, 2000, fans were divided over who would win, Mayweather or Corrales. “Chico” looked that good in stopping Gainer, a fighter who entered the ring having won his last 16 fights.
Diego passed away in May of 2007. Gainer retired in 2012. Two fine, fine fighters.