01.03.04 – By Janne Romppainen: The boxing world offers sports fans another delicious thriller inside a week in addition to the colourful super featherweight title fight between Erik Morales and Jesus Chavez. In the upcoming Saturday 6th of March Cuban Joel Casamayor and American Diego Corrales square it off for the vacant WBO-title of the same division. The place will be Foxwoods Casino Resort, Mashantucket, CT, USA and the bout is scheduled to go twelve rounds.
As most boxing fans certainly know, the fight will be a rematch between the fighters. Last time they met in last October, and at that time Casamayor proved to be better via controversial stoppage after six rounds when the ring doctor told the referee to stop the contest because of two cuts inside Corrales’ mouth. The colourful matchup pleased the spectators and when Casamayor couldn’t secure a rematch against Brazilian Acelino Freitas, the rematch against Corrales was a plausible move for him. Corrales for his part got enraged after the stoppage last time and has demanded for a rematch ever since. Now he gets the chance to revenge his loss.
The 32-year-old Casamayor is a long-term fighter. Already as an amateur he was one of the best fighters pound-for-pound in the world and he captured both a world championship and an Olympic gold medal in Barcelona 1992. Unlike most of the best Cuban fighters he has also launched a professional career, which he begun in 1996. After that he has risen steadily towards the top, fighting at times also in lightweight division. Despite his obvious talent Casamayor had to spent years in the shadows of Floyd Mayweather jr. and Corrales. When Mayweather moved up to the lightweight and Corrales was jailed, the division was left open for Casamayor and Acelino Freitas to rule. Their evenly-fought battle in 2002 ended to Freitas’ disputed decision victory. Casamayor has craved for a rematch ever since but he hasn’t gotten one.
Southpaw Casamayor is known as a brilliant technical fighter. His footwork is smooth, his hands work quickly and his technique is very clean. He also has snap in his punches even though he is not known as a knockout artist. Casamayor’s won-loss record stands at 30-1 with 19 knockouts.
Diego Corrales for his part is a pupil of the hard American boxing school. He begun his pro career in 1996 just like Casamayor and made his way to the title fights in impressive manner in three years. Corrales conquered the IBF-championship and ruled the super featherweight division by the side of Mayweather for two years. The highly anticipated and speculated fight between the two kings was arranged in 2001. Everybody waited for an evenly-matched, exciting fight, but instead it turned out to be one-sided exhibition in favour of Mayweather’s. Corrales won no rounds and finally his corner retired him in the tenth round when he had gone down for the fifth time. Before the Casamayor fight Corrales had scored four straight victories over mediocre opposition.
On a first look it would be impossible to believe what kind of a power the lanky, 6-feet tall Corrales possesses. 31 knockouts in total of 39 fights however clearly demonstrate why he is seen as one of the biggest hitters of the game at the moment. Technically Corrales is nothing special, but his brute power and reach make up for it. Corrales is able to score a one-punch knockout with either fist which is not very usual between this light men. Corrales has the most trouble with his defence: quick-fisted opponents have caught his chin in the past relatively easily. Also his punch resistance is a big question mark. He doesn’t lack any guts however as he proved by getting up time and time again against Mayweather and Casamayor. Corrales’ ring record stands now at 37-2.
Deciding from their last fight Casamayor will enter this bout as the favourite. During the six rounds that were completed in October he pointed out all those weaknesses in Corrales’ arsenal that Floyd Mayweather had earlier revealed. Corrales is one of the most murderous punchers in the world when he can deliver his shots from full balance. However if his opponents keeps moving and doesn’t give him the time to get his body behind them, both his punch output and his effectiveness drop dramatically. Casamayor took full advantage of that and with his fleet footwork he puzzled Corrales in most of the rounds. He also now has subjective experience about what kind of a power Corrales brings to the table and knows to be alert.
Also Casamayor’s quick harpoon attacks were difficult for Corrales to handle: he downed Corrales both in third and fourth rounds of their last fight. It is very unlikely that Corrales’ defence would have gotten so much better since the last time that Casamayor couldn’t hurt him again. It also has to be noted that at the time when the last bout was stopped Casamayor seemed to be in much better shape. If this bout lasts over its halfway mark, the chances of the Cuban fighter should rise even more.
Corrales is not without a chance in this fight by any means though. Also he showed his dangerousness last time out. In the fourth round of the fight Casamayor knocked him down and moved in for the finish but instead found himself sitting on the canvas after a single left hook by Corrales. Also in the sixth round Corrales clearly stunned Casamayor. On other words Corrales has the potential to score a knockout on any given moment if Casamayor’s concentration lapses for a second. Also last time Corrales got in the fight better and better as the bout progressed. If he is able to find his punching distance from the beginning, the script of the fight might change considerably. To get to Casamayor Corrales should use his left jab more effectively than usually is the case: with it he could take the space out from the quicker Casamayor.
The fight will be a classical matador against a bull situation. An extra spice in this fight is the fact that both the bull and the matador have the ability to end the bout with at given moment. The bad blood between the fighters also always makes things more interesting from the view of spectators. Everything seems to indicate that we will se another dramatic clash between these two fighters, hopefully the ending this time leaves nothing to speculate.
Personally I would go with Casamayor’s late stoppage. I think he is just too versatile, too skilled and too quick for Corrales to overcome. In the future, a bout between Casamayor and Morales would be another huge thriller. However if the opposite happens and Corrales wins it, Corrales-Morales or Corrales-Freitas don’t sound like cure for insomnia either…
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