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17 NOVEMBER 2018


Fight of the Year: Corrales w rsf 10 Castillo

Just awesome (pic Casino/Showtime)
Just awesome (pic Casino/Showtime)

By Elliot Worsell: Seven months on from arguably one of the greatest ring battles in living memory, and it's hard to provide such an encounter with fresh superlatives. They've all been used up. Brutal. Astonishing. Punishing. Horrific. The greatest.

Attempting to describe or reminisce about the SecondsOut Fight of the Year winner for 2005 is near impossible. Far easier to simply re-watch a tape, in silence, and rejoice in watching 10 of the greatest rounds ever fought between two, evenly matched, gloved-up modern day gladiators.

On the night of May 7, 2005, Mexican Jose Luis Castillo and Sacramento's Diego 'Chico' Corrales entered a WBC/WBO lightweight title affair with widespread expectancy and anticipation - and left the arena that night with their names forever etched in boxing folklore.

Not only did the free-swinging pair extend the line of classic lightweight wars of the modern era, they exceeded anything that came before it. Their 10 round epic - which saw Corrales mount an incredible 10th round turnaround to clinch victory - rewrote the rulebook on classic tear-ups and provided the manual for all future dramatic comeback rounds.

The now legendary 10th round is simply without peers. Any rivals it may have are beaten down with all the vicious force of a chopping Corrales left-right combination. It's head motionless, lifeless and in awe like Castillo's beaten noggin over the top rope.

Following nine breakneck preceding rounds, the 10th punctuated and extended what was already one of the greatest ring battles ever fought.

Starting fast, Castillo somehow sucked up the punishment received in an equally brutal ninth round, to come out churning left-hooks at the upright WBO champion Corrales. Busted up, fatigued, and with swelling squinting the eyes, Corrales failed to see Castillo's trademark punch, and was decked in fight-ending fashion inside the first 30 seconds of the 10th.

Ever the battler, Corrales rose to his feet, readjusted himself, and retreated to his corner where trainer Joe Goosen reattached the mouthpiece he spat out. A near-beaten 'Chico' bought all the seconds he could muster - but most felt he was on borrowed time anyway. Castillo - as well as being one of the most incessant and precise inside fighters on the planet - was also a merciless finisher.

As expected, a groggy Corrales was quickly met by a fusillade of pulverising left-hooks and right-uppercuts from Castillo as the pair reacquainted. It wasn't long before Jose Luis started mincing Corrales puffy face once more - sending the gutsy former super-featherweight champion to the floor for the second time.

Once again Corrales summoned the strength to pull himself upright - and was once again without a mouthpiece. His second trip to Goosen to add piece to mouth grabbed priceless seconds and cost him a point.

Nevertheless, Corrales could have had two days off from the warfare, and still nobody could have foreseen the come-from-behind salvo Diego was about to launch.

Under heavy fire, legs weakened, body gasping for a time out, Corrales somehow managed to time Castillo's ferocious attacks and catch the Mexican hero with a perfect yet wild right-hook directly on the button. With all the momentum flowing his way, Castillo was taken aback by 'Chico's weary but still potent artillery, and was momentarily stopped directly in his tracks.

The crowd let out a stunned gasp. James Toney and Ronald 'Winky' Wright leapt up from their ringside seats. Hagler, Hearns, Morales, Barrera, Ali and Frazier all readied themselves for a new chapter.

Sensing the time was now to capitalise on Castillo's failed attempt to score a knockout, Corrales jumped on the WBC titlist and traded violently for 40 seconds - getting the better of most exchanges.

Corrales culminated the switch in fortune with a hammering left-hook exclamation mark, that left Castillo vulnerable, motionless, and in need of saving. Referee Tony Weeks rushed in to aid Castillo, and underline the conclusion of one of boxing history's greatest slugfests.

Yet, that description merely accounts for the final two-minute segment of an epic narrative. If the 10th round was the greatest boxing round ever fought, the preceding nine rounds argued a good case for coming in at numbers 10 to 2. Featuring back-and-forth, ebb-and-flow action that was initiated from the tolling of the first bell, Corrales and Castillo traded punches furiously and traded rounds intriguingly.

As poised as it was punishing, Corrales and Castillo provided fight fans with the Holy Grail. The fight you show to non-boxing fans that seek the definition of 'boxing'. The fight you feel proud to show boxing naysayers. The fight that defines all that is so special about your favourite sport.

Upon hearing he'd won the SecondsOut gong for his terrifying tear-up with Castillo in May, a delighted Corrales said it was all for the fans.

"It's great to win the SecondsOut award," beamed Corrales, whilst preparing for his third meeting with Castillo on February 4, 2006.

"It was an awesome fight and I'm just glad the fans got everything they wanted from the fight. They all expected a great fight beforehand, and I'm just glad I managed to deliver for them. That's what I get in the ring for. I just love seeing the fans, the media and other fighters be as happy as they can be watching me fight.

"Being given this award means so much to me because it was voted for by the fans, and it's those guys that I'm trying to entertain when I'm in there."

Seven months removed from his first date with Castillo, Corrales admits the magnitude of what he did that May night will forever stick with him.

"Once the fight was over and I was walking away from the arena, that was when I realised it was one hell of a fight," Diego admitted. "I didn't realise just how great it was during the fight, or in the aftermath. You never realise how big a deal it will become at the time.

"Since the fight, though, I've only watched it back a couple of times. After a battle like that you don't want to watch it lots of times. You get too many headaches! There's not a video recorder in the world that can match or translate what we were feeling in that ring.

"I know I'm now going to spend the rest of my career being mentioned alongside Jose Luis Castillo. They will never mention his name without mentioning mine, and they will never mention mine without bringing up Castillo. Our names will be forever synonymous, and I better get used to it."

Pipped to the gong by the epic Corrales-Castillo was WBO junior-welterweight champion Miguel Cotto's seven-round struggle with dynamite Columbian puncher Ricardo Torres. The South American pair traded furiously throughout - Cotto down once, Torres down four times - before the Puerto Rican Cotto prevailed in the seventh round. Torres - an unknown and unbeaten puncher at the time - even in defeat came of age with a sterling effort.

Also beaten to the top honour was the March double salvo - Erik Morales' 12 round points win over Filipino favourite Manny Pacquaio at super-featherweight, and Mexican Jorge Arce's 10th round breakdown of game Australian Hussein Hussein, in a humdinger of a WBC flyweight title eliminator. Both back-and-forth battles took place on the same Las Vegas bill, and both were quickly earmarked as leading candidates for Fight of the Year.

Also in the running, yet ultimately overshadowed, was WBO heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster's ninth round knockout of the skilful and determined German Luan Krasniqi, in Germany. The marauding American packed his bags, fled home, and tackled one of the most well-schooled heavyweights on the globe - eventually grinding down Krasniqi in the ninth round, in front of a deflated home crowd. Void of any overseas television coverage, the most exciting heavyweight fight of the year rumbled along amid much silence.

Previous winners of SecondsOut's Fight of the Year honour:
2004: Barrera v Morales III
2003: Lewis v Klitschko
2002: Ward v Gatti I
2001: Gonzalez v Letterlough
2000: Morales v Barrera I

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