Corrales wins after being down in 10th round

Posted: Sunday, May 08, 2005

LAS VEGAS — Diego Corrales was in trouble. His left eye was closed and a left hook from Jose Luis Castillo had just put him on the canvas for the second time in the 10th round.

Referee Tony Weeks stood counting as Corrales rolled over on his hands and knees, spitting his mouthpiece out. Corrales seemed to be debating whether to continue as he finally got to his feet just in time at the count of nine.

The brutal lightweight title fight had taken a lot out of both fighters. But now, all seemed lost as Corrales rose from the canvas.

Then, in one of the most amazing comebacks in title fight history, Corrales landed a series of punches as sudden as it was shocking that put Castillo out on his feet against the ropes Saturday night to win the lightweight titles.

''I've waited for a long time to show my will and prove I'm a warrior,'' Corrales said. ''I knew I was going to get up.''

In a fight of remarkable ebb and flow, Corrales added the WBC 135-pound crown to the WBO title he brought into the ring with an improbable comeback.

The match ended at 2:06 of the 10th round when Weeks stepped between the fighters with Castillo on the ropes and taking tremendous punishment to the head.

''Greatest fight I've ever seen,'' Corrales' trainer, Joe Goossen said.

The crowd of 5,168 at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino seemed to think so too, standing on their feet as the fighters considered the two best lightweights in the world met in a much anticipated matchup.

The fight promised to be a test of power and wills. And it didn't disappoint as the two went after each other from the opening bell with little regard for defense or safety.

''He's one of the greatest fighters in the world but so am I,'' Castillo said.

Castillo was bleeding from an accidental head butt that opened up a big cut over his left eye while Corrales' left eye was closed and his right eye swollen when the 10th round began.

By the time it ended, the two somehow managed to further elevate an already great fight with a round that will likely last long in boxing lore.

As Castillo moved in to finish off Corrales after the second knockdown — after Corrales got a precious few extra seconds to recover by spitting his mouthpiece out — Corrales suddenly landed a big left hook and followed it with a flurry of punches that pinned Castillo on the ropes.

Weeks finally stepped in between the fighters to protect Castillo.

''The ref gave him all kinds of chances and never gave me a chance,'' Castillo said. ''I was hurt. I'm not saying I wasn't hurt, but I came back before in the fight.''

Weeks, though, said he had no choice.

''He got hit with some bombs,'' Weeks said. ''His eyes went back and he went limp.''

Both fighters rocked each other with big punches only to find themselves on the receiving end only seconds later throughout the fight, which was fought in close in the center of the ring at a ferocious pace

''It was a war of attrition,'' Corrales (40-2) said.

It was that and more, as both fighters went after each other yet somehow both stayed upright until the fateful 10th round.

''These two should never fight each other again,'' Goossen said. ''It's too much.''

Both fighters ended up in the hospital for precautionary tests when it was all done.

Corrales, at 5-foot-11, towered over Castillo (52-7-1) and had the better jab. But he chose to fight inside and the two fighters went after each other from the opening bell in a fierce and brutal fight.

Going into the 10th round, Corrales was ahead by one point on one scorecard and three on a second, while Castillo was ahead by three points on the other.

But Castillo would have won the round by at least four points after knocking Corrales down twice and also Corrales having a point taken for spitting out his mouthpiece both times he went down.

Castillo's promoter, Bob Arum, complained that the Corrales was given too much time to recover after spitting out his mouthpiece the second time. Arum said he should have been forced to fight with the mouthpiece out.

Corrales said he went down after being hit with a great left hook and was still feeling it when he was knocked down the second time. Fighting out of desperation, with his left eye swollen shut, he went right after Castillo and changed the fight around.

''It was a left hook inside and I didn't want to leave him off the hook,'' Corrales said.

Corrales' promoter Gary Shaw jumped into the ring to hug his fighter.

''Don't try to stand,'' Shaw said. ''Just lean on me.''

In another title fight, Juan Manuel Marquez dominated perennial contender Victor Polo to retain his WBA and IBF featherweight titles.

Marquez dropped Polo in the seventh round with a right hand but was never able to stop him despite winning almost every round on the three ringside scorecards. Marquez won the unanimous decision by scores of 120-107, 119-108 and 118-109.

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