22.02.07 – By Matthew Hamill: Jose Luis Herrera, 14-2 coming in, met Jorge “Locomotora” Castro, 129-11-3, at the time, at the Municipal Patinódromo, Sea of the Silver, in Buenos Aires on January 27, 2007. Castro was looking for boxing redemption having been decked twice and tko’d by Herrera in 4 rounds in April 2006, only the second stoppage loss in his long career. What made the loss even more shocking was that Castro was coming off a solid tko win over Derrick Harmon. Of course, in between, he had recuperated from a serious motorcycle accident and this likely played a role in his defeat.
“Locomotora” has been boxing as a pro for 20 years and had won his first 40 professional fights, but few except aficionados know much about him, maybe because most of his fights have been in Argentina. Nonetheless, he has fought the very best during his long career. Indeed, he split a pair with Robert Duran beating him in 1997 and holds two wins each over Reggie Johnson (for the vacant WBA Middleweight Title) and John David Jackson (in 1994’s Ring Magazine Fight of the Year). He also beat Peter Venancio (three times), Hector Hugo Vilte, Alex Ramos, Juan Carlos Gimenez Ferreyra, Imamu Mayfield and many other tough customers. His losses were against such rugged foes as Shinji Takehara, Terry Norris, Vasily Jirov, Paul Briggs, Juan Carlos Gomez and Roy Jones Jr.
Many of Castro’s opponents have long since retired. Ramos now heads the Retired Boxers Foundation; Norris has been inducted into the Hall of Fame and Duran will go in this year; Takehara has retired as has John David Jackson; Jones and Jirov are still trying to recapture the magic. Yet Jorge fights on and wins.
No stranger to championship belts and fights, he has won the WBA Middleweight Title, the South American Cruiserweight Title, WBA Fedelatin Super Middleweight Title, the Argentine (FAB) Light Middleweight Title, and the South American Light Middleweight Title, As well, he has battled for the WBC Cruiserweight Title, IBF Cruiserweight Title, and IBO Cruiserweight Title.
But getting back to January 27, 2007, he redeemed himself in his rematch with Herrera and then some, as he decked him 4 times. Herrera also received a standing 8-count in the 2nd round before referee Luis Carlos Guzmán called a halt to the slaughter at the 2.28 mark. Herrera was in the wrong place at the wrong time as Castro fought like a man possessed. All the more remarkable when you consider what he has gone though during his long career.
13 years prior to getting his payback (December 10, 1994 to be exact), Castro met tough John David Jackson for the WBA Middleweight Title at the Estadio de Beisbol in Monterrey, Mexico. The fight, named Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year, featured one of the most dramatic endings in ring history. Castro was trailing badly on all three scorecards (71-80, 73-80 and 74-79). One eye was closed and the other was half closed. He was bleeding and pinned against the ropes taking wicked shots and combos.
Referee Stanley Christodoulou positioned himself to stop the fight and started to raise his hands to signal the stoppage, but then Castro landed a hard right hand on Jackson’s chin and Jackson went down. All of a sudden, instead of stopping the fight in Jackson’s favor, Christodoulou began counting out Jackson, but John David manged to get up. He suffered one more savage knockdown and “Locomotora” completed the comeback and retained his title with decisive knockout in the ninth round. Clearly, this had been one of the most amazing, if unlikeliest, turnarounds in boxing history. Shades of Hearns-Barkley…shades of Castillo-Corrales.
At a press conference after the fight, Castro called his winning punch “La mano de Dios,” (The hand of God). The ending to that fight became legendary in Argentinean lore and was written about for months in many boxing magazines and books.
In 1998, proving the first win was no fluke, Castro would beat Jackson again, this time by a close UD. He decked John David twice (in the 4th and 8th rounds) to pull it out for the vacant WBA Fedelatin Super Middleweight.
Then on June 18, 2005, Jorge was involved in a motorcycle accident in Buenos Aires in which he suffered a collapsed lung and broken ribs. Unlike Roberto Duran who had almost been killed in a similar dramatic accident also in Argentina a few years earlier and had to retire, Jorge recuperated and was able to resume his career.
Since then he has split two with Jose Luis Herrera, but given the brutally redemptive manner in which he won his last fight, we can count on seeing his some more.
Currently, he has a record of 130 wins, 11 losses and 3 draws. His 90 knockout wins rank him among the most prolific knockout winners in boxing history.
Like Hall of Famer Eder Jofre, considered to be the best Brazilian boxer of all time….and arguably the greatest Bantamweight of all time, Castro has been flying under the radar screen far too long without getting his appropriate props. I plan to give Jofre his in a future piece. This one is in praise of a warrior who continues to give us great thrills.