Castillo quietly motivated to turn it around
While Ricky Hatton is returning to the junior welterweight division, former two-time lightweight champ Jose Luis Castillo is officially moving up to junior welterweight on Saturday night's undercard at the Paris Las Vegas.
Hatton will face Juan Urango for a junior welterweight belt in the main event. Castillo of Mexico faces Herman Ngoudjo of Canada in a title elimination bout.
Although the Castillo-Ngoudjo winner becomes the mandatory challenger for titlist Junior Witter, if Castillo and Hatton each win, they have a contract in place to meet June 2 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on HBO.
Juan Urango-Ricky Hatton
Castillo, of course, will be fighting for the first time since he failed to make weight for a lightweight championship rubber match against rival Diego Corrales in June. Castillo weighed 139½ pounds at the weigh-in -- 4½ pounds over the limit -- and looked drained. The fight was ultimately canceled, and Castillo was fined $250,000 and suspended for the rest of the year by Nevada officials.
Now, he is back in a new weight class, and not doing much talking. He has been a non-entity in the promotion of the card, in part because he and his handlers are tired of talking about his weight.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, however, told ESPN.com that Castillo's weight was "pretty good."
Arum, who hired personal trainer Axel Murillo to be at Castillo's side, said Castillo arrived in Las Vegas on a private plane from Mexico on Tuesday night.
"He's not dehydrated or anything," Arum said. "Axel weighed him [Tuesday] night and he was 145 pounds. When he came to the workout [Wednesday] afternoon, he was down to 143. They're making him drink water, making him eat every meal, but cutting down on the food. It's a question of keeping the metabolism going so his body doesn't lock up like it did last time when he was cutting the last few pounds."
Arum said before the aborted Corrales fight that he was misled by some of Castillo's team about his weight. This time it's different, Arum said, because Murillo works for him and is being honest about Castillo's weight.
That's why Arum believes Castillo will make the 140-pound limit at Friday's weigh-in.
And if he doesn't?
"His career is over, and it should be over," Arum said. "There is not even an argument."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.