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Articles of 2005

Corrales-Castillo II Fight Predictions

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After last week’s shenanigans, it looks like we’ve got the real deal coming our way this Saturday. From Las Vegas, broadcast via Showtime pay-per-view, Diego “Chico” Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo fight a rematch of their May lightweight classic. Expectations are high for this bout, perhaps higher than should be expected, but for good reason: These guys, quite simply, come to fight. This is how The Sweet Science writers see the Corrales-Castillo rematch.

All I can say is that this fight won't be boring. Usually, when a fighter has been knocked out in the first fight, they are somewhat damaged the second time, but with Corrales tasting the canvas twice in that incredible tenth round, who can say that Corrales isn't a broken fighter entering the rematch? I know Corrales won that fight, but consider all the wars Corrales has been through. I guess the same can be said of Castillo, which is why I think something strange will happen Saturday, with one of the fighters getting stopped early. Despite my feeling that Corrales should be reticent because of all the punishment he has taken, I have a sneaking suspicion that Corrales is not human, so I'm leaning toward Corrales dispatching Castillo before the sixth round.
Mitch Abramson

While Corrales may have won the first classic, the battle may have exacted more of a toll on “Chico's” long, lean body. Months after the fight, Corrales was still bruised and battered around the eyes, while Castillo seemed relatively well-recovered. This may mean something, it may not. But the hunch is that Castillo is the fresher fighter. Also, he is a smart fighter – smarter than most give him credit for. And while his game plan of moving forward, punishing the body and out-willing Corrales won't change, his defense will have improved. He won't get hit with the sort of solid punches that staggered him the first time, like the sweeping left hook that caught him in the eighth round of their first fight. Finally, when he gets Corrales hurt, he won't be careless. He'll take his time and pick his shots. As a result, he'll take a split decision in a fight that is only slightly less exciting than the first.
Matt Aguilar

Castillo will win by knockout in the 10th round. He's the best inside fighter in boxing and I think he'll wear Corrales down. Corrales may try to outbox him this time, but I think he'll be sucked into another brawl. And this time, whoever the referee is, will not allow him to spit out his mouthpiece.
“Irish” Bobby Cassidy

I think Castillo wins by decision. I think he'll continue to put the pressure on and I think he's more motivated to win this fight because he feels like he was slighted in the last fight.
Robert Cassidy Jr.

Corrales won't need to repeat his mouthpiece caper. He has to have the edge just because he won their first fight in such spectacular fashion. “I hurt him once, I can hurt him again,” is how he remembers that fight. Castillo, meanwhile, still thinks the title is rightfully his. Look for another drama-filled fight, with Corrales – maybe sporting a new mouthpiece – winning again by knockout late in the fight.
Rick Folstad

Corrales, TKO 10. Corrales can make this fight as easy as he wants. He proved as much in the too few moments he kept his distance and thoroughly outboxed Castillo. Of course, Corrales will even the odds if he can't help himself from slugging it out at close quarters. If Joe Goossen has ingrained into Corrales the concept of how dangerous a toe-to-toe brawl would be (or if simple human nature prevents Corrales from walking through that hell again), then Corrales will cruise.
Tim Graham

When the two met in May, Diego “Chico” Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo were both seen as wily veterans capable of producing fireworks and a good dose of toughness. When they meet this time it will be as legendary rivals attempting to top what was one of the most exciting fights in decades. Chico, despite winning with a spectacular comeback stoppage, took a severe beating and hit the deck hard twice before gutting it out for the win. Likewise, Castillo took his share and was stopped while on his feet. The fighter who has most left in the tank will likely be the winner Saturday. They both say they expect a war again, but I don't. Both will have vivid memories of the pain from the first fight and we should expect more jabs than bombs. Corrales actually has skills that he can exploit to a clear advantage. He claims that he can only fight one way – all out – but look for him to impose a broader range of talent to gain a substantial advantage over the rugged and willing ex-champ. If the fight is even half as good as the first it is still worth the price of admission – and then some. Corrales by decision.
JE Grant

We can only guess, but I would tend to believe that it will be Corrales showing signs of attrition as the rematch unfolds, given he suffered more punishment in the first fight. And though bravery defined Corrales until he was able to reverse what appeared to be a knockout loss, to score a stoppage win himself, this time I look for Castillo to break Corrales down to the body in a more concerted manner. I still see Castillo as the better “catcher” and this time, I'd wager, he'll stop Corrales. Castillo KO9 Corrales.
Patrick Kehoe

I think how this fight goes, in terms of the style of fight it is, depends entirely on Diego Corrales. Chico is much more capable of playing the role of “boxer” who typically beats the “puncher.” In the first fight Corrales had it in his head that he was going to “hook with the hooker” and “punch with the puncher” that Castillo is. That doesn't always work out but it did the first time when these two met as Chico earned a legitimate stoppage victory with a pretty nasty hook of his own. This time around I think trainer Goossen will be all over Corrales to make sure he doesn't fight the same fight and that he boxes more from a distance working behind his jab. If he does it will be a less exciting fight but an easier victory for Diego, if he decides to brawl again, it's anyone's fight. I think Corrales proved what he wanted to in the first bout – showing everyone how tough he really is – and will win the intelligent way the second time around to prove what a complete fighter he really is.
Joey Knish

I'm going with Corrales for a few reasons reasons: He's got that eraser, and he has the option to box from the outside if he so chooses; I have a sneaking suspicion he may do a little bit more of that this time.  I also believe that it's not just lip service when he and Joe Goossen say he's sharper in this camp. I think that will translate to a tighter defense.
Corrales stops Castillo in the mid to late rounds.
Zachary Levin

The entire boxing world is hoping for a replay of their first fight. I think both fighters will try to oblige from the opening bell. While Chico has a heart as big as anyone who has ever stepped in the ring, his chin can't match it. Look for Castillo to catch Chico early with some big bombs early, shocking Corrales and the boxing world en route to a 4th round KO. It will be great while it lasts, but it won't last long this time.
Marc Lichtenfeld

Instead of decreasing Corrales' shelf life, I think the first fight only invigorated him more. He still has the enthusiasm of an upstart. This will be a good fight, but probably not nearly as competitive. Corrales KO 8.
Bob Mladinich

You can throw away the book on this one. The loser will be the last guy to get hit on the chin; now all you have to figure out which one that will be: Diego Corrales, who won last time with an 11th hour, 10th round knockout after first taking a savage beating; or Jose Luis Castillo, who reached for all those lightweight belts a few moments too soon and wound up in the protective arms of referee Tony Weeks, sadder surely, wiser perhaps. Corrales’ key to victory was his mouthpiece, which he spit out twice, gaining him a one-point slap on the wrist and a basketful of extra time—some say more than a minute—to fully recover from Castillo’s heavy-handed assault on his chin. If Castillo can keep his head in the fight and not on the end of a Corrales right hand-hook combination while he rehearses his victory speech, he should turn around last May’s ending. Now, wasn't that easy?
Pat Putnam

There’s not been a moment since the announcement of Corrales and Castillo going-at-it again that I haven’t tried to speed-up the clock. Christmas is two months early – what a present! It’s inconceivable that they could do what they did before. Tanks weren’t meant to take that punishment, let alone humans. Castillo will up his work-rate from attack to warp speed.  He’s a seek-and-destroy guy. All he can do is amp-up the pressure. Corrales is more versatile and will try to be more disciplined, stabbing from the outside, picking his shots. But with his pride and Castillo’s pressure, they should be nose-to-nose by round three, and everybody in the arena and at home holding their breath. The cringe factor may be pivotal here. There last go was so brutal – and the Chavez-Johnson fight fresh in everyone’s mind – it may be impressed upon the ref how alert he has to be at the first sign of danger. So, this time, it may be stopped sooner than later. Diego may not get the chance to do the impossible. If he’s dropped a few times – entirely likely – and wobbling – the ref may step in, protesting or not. I think it will go down that way, and exciting enough for a third time on PPV.
Joe Rein

I cannot see how either man will not be affected by the beating they took in the first fight and become more cautious. If this is the case, Corrales should be able to use his height to advantage and win a decision.
Ed Schuyler

Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo’s rematch will have plenty of exciting moments, but it will lack anything resembling the already legendary 10th round. This time, Corrales will put together a smarter, more disciplined attack. The results will be a healthier “Chico” and a less memorable fight than its predecessor. Corrales by KO
Aaron Tallent

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More

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A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06

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Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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