Diego Corrales: A True Warrior. R.I.P.
Up until that fight in May of 2005, I would consider myself a casual fan of the sport of boxing.
Sure, I watched all of the HBO and Showtime cards, caught the big names on PPVs when I could, watched ESPN fights when it was a name I recognized, watched The Contender. But I was not yet a die-hard boxing fan.
My older brother, Mario, who is a writer for 15rounds.com, has always been die hard and had been telling me this was a fight I needed to see. I did not know much about either fighter, although I had seen Corrales fight on the undercard of James Toney-Evander Holyfield in his loss on cuts to Joel Casamayor, and he did impress me.
Through On Demand I saw the Corrales-Freitas fight. Again I left impressed and was very excited to see Corrales step in the ring with a guy who had never been down in his career and had a great pedigree.
I wasn't expecting the fight to meet my expectations. But from the opening bell, I knew I was watching something special. The fight had everything. It was a brawl, yet tactical. Both fighters showed tremendous amounts of heart and will. Each round was close with each fighter having their moments. There was a lot on the line and both guys were willing to give it everything in order to be named the winner. At the end of each round I literally had goosebumps. I had never seen a fight quite like this. I had yet to see Gatti-Ward or Hagler-Hearns, so I was not used to this kind of war.
Round by round, my mouth never closed, my jaw stayed dropped. Castillo was cut bad, and Corrales' eyes were merely slits.
Then, in round ten, Castillo landed quite possibly one of the most perfect left hands I had ever seen, even more devastating due to the fact that Corrales stepped right into it. Corrales getting up at all was a true test to his heart. Not a half minute later he was down again, mouthpiece on the ground, and I thought it was over. He got up again, and Joe Goosen, his trainer, told him he needed to get back in there.
Corrales did just that, and while still mentally not there he landed some hellacious blows, stunning Castillo. He got Castillo against the ropes and landed a flurry that most definitely had Castillo out on his feet, and referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight.
I could not believe my eyes of what I had just seen. I asked myself, "Is this what I have been missing for all these years?"
Ever since that fight, I have watched any form of boxing I could get my hands on. I have gotten ahold of many of the major fights of the last twenty-five years, including fights overseas. I have finally seen Gatt-Ward, Hagler-Hearns, Jirov-Toney, Holyfield-Qawi, Holyfield-Bowe, and had been able to see Monshipour-Sithchatchawal, and as amazing as those fights were, nothing will ever have the effect that watching Corrales-Castillo live on television did.
I owe my allegiance to the sport to both fighters, but especially Corrales. His showing in that fight, especially that 10th round, showed me what heart really is. I have seen that fight dozens of times and every time I still cannot believe what I am seeing.
Although Corrales' career did not end on a high note, having lost his last three fights, he will always be remembered as one of the true warriors of the sport. He never quit, he always pressed the action, he never backed down even after being put on the seat of his pants numerous times. Even though I do not consider him an all-time great, and he has had some things in his personal life that I don't agree with, I can only remember Corrales as the guy who made me the fan I am today.
Thank you Diego, and may you rest in piece.