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Fight of the year 2005 – Corrales v Castillo (10 years ago) – Part 4

By Gav Duthie: Wow, what a fight, I can’t believe this was ten years ago. It is 8 years next month since the untimely death of Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales aged just 29. In 2005 he along with mexican great Jose Luis Castillo gave us one of the best fights in recent history. Corrales and Castillo fought for the WBC and WBO lightweight titles on 7th May 2005 participating in a bloodbath which culminated in one of the best rounds in boxing history. 

Diego Corrales 39-2 (32)

‘Chico’ was at the peak of his powers going into this bout. He had achieved back to back victories over two of the most highly regarded lower weight boxers in the circuit. He won a split decision victory over skilful cuban Joel Casamayor in a rematch and then knocked out Brazilian great Acelino Freitas 35-0 in the 10th round to bag the WBO lightweight title. Next up was Castillo who presented a big challenge with his size and strength. 

Jose Luis Castillo 52-6-1

In 03 and early 04 Castillo had little more than tune up fights after controversially losing twice to Floyd Mayweather Jnr the year previous. Many still consider Castillo the only man to legitimately beat Mayweather as a pro but he didn’t get the decisions. In June 2004 Castillo regained his WBC Lightweight title outpointing Juan Lazcano (33-2-1) over 12 tough rounds. He then made two high class defences winning a split decision over Joel Casamayor followed by a 10th round stoppage over former champion Julio Diaz. The Corrales fight gave Castillo the chance to unify with the WBO title and cement his place as the dominant lightweight force again after Mayweather moved up to 140lbs. The Corrales fight came only 2 months after the Diaz encounter. 

Fight Link

The Fight

This bout is infamous because of its grandstand finish but in fairness the entire fight was superb. It was fought at close quarters, toe-to-toe, with very little jabs as both fighters were predominantly power punchers. Castillo was cut just above the right eye by round 5 and Corrales was severely marked up under both eyes. Although Corrales was landing the higher volume of punches it was Castillo who finally struck in round 10 knocking Diego to the canvas. Only seconds later Castillo knocked him down again heavily and Corrales was deducted a point for spitting out his mouth piece on both occasions. This infraction gave ‘Chico’ valuable recovery time and as the action resumed when Castillo went in for the kill, Corrales, the wounded lion, landed a massive left hook on Castillo. Castillo didn’t go down but was badly staggered and Corrales trapped him on the ropes landing a flurry of punches forcing referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight. 

Points at the time of stoppage

86-85 Corrales
87-84 Corrales
84-87 Castillo

The aftermath – Corrales

After the huge success of the first fight promoters were eyeing a fight franchise between the two warriors. The original magic however was never recaptured. Despite fighting at 135lbs his whole career to this point Jose Luis Castillo couldn’t make weight for the rematch. Corrales was bang on at 135 lbs but Castillo was 138 and a half lbs. As a result of this the fight became a non-title bout. Again it was fought in the pocket but Castillo was winning all 3 rounds before he landed a big left hook dropping Corrales. He beat the count on unsteady legs but was in no position to continue so Castillo got his revenge. 

A third bout dubbed “The War to settle the score” was scheduled for February 2006 but this was fraught with problems. Corrales had to pull out of the original date due to a rib injury. It was re-scheduled for June but again at the weigh-in Castillo was now almost 5lbs over the lightweight limited. The fight was scrapped and Corrales sued him for damages. Instead Corrales went for a trilogy match up with Casamayor. This time ironically Corrales failed to make the lightweight limit (weighed 139lbs) so the title was only on the line for the Cuban and Chico lost a split decision. His final fight was surprisingly against Joshua Clottey where Corrales weighed 149lbs meaning he had skipped light welterweight and welterweight altogether. Clearly ‘Chico’ was unclear of the direction of his career and dropped a UD to the Ghanian. 

Horrible Anniversary

Then only 1 month after the Clottey contest and exactly 2 years after his first Castillo fight Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales lost his life. Whilst trying to overtake a car on his motorcycle he was involved in a 3-vehicle collision. He was taken to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival not far from his Las Vegas home. His blood-alcohol level was 3 times the legal limit. He was only 29 years old. 

The aftermath – Castillo

In fairness neither Corrales or Castillo were the same after that fight. Castillo at 41 years old is still boxing all be it well past his best with his record now reading 66-13-1 (57). He was last knocked out by Ruslan Provodnikov in November last year. After the Corrales rematch he moved up to the 140lb division and was knocked out by Ricky Hatton with a sickening body shot in 2007. He looked past it then but still continued to box on. There was again talk of retirement after his latest defeat and hopefully he doesn’t feel the need to box again. 


Both fighters cemented their legacies as warriors with their first encounter and although it clearly took a lot out of them they will always be remembered for what they did 10 years ago. 

(Footnote: Apologies I missed out the 1995 contest between Saman v Humberto Gonzalez due to time constraints and in all honesty a total lack of knowledge on the fight. I did watch it on Youtube though and would highly recommend it.)

Lets hope the Floyd Mayweather Jr. – Manny Pacquiao can live up to some of these guys. Enjoy

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