- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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You could watch boxing for another 50 years and never see a round as extraordinary as the 10th frame of the now-legendary first fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo.
Before the round had even started, the lightweight unification match on May 7 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas was etching a place on the list of all-time great fights.
The 10th round, with two knockdowns and Corrales' stunning comeback, put the fight into the stratosphere of legendary fights.
Corrales and Castillo had already spent nine rounds slugging it out in a violent toe-to-toe collision. Each man was bleeding. Each man had been hurt. Each man was obviously exhausted.
Then came the 10th, the obvious choice for ESPN.com round of the year. It might just be one of the top 10 rounds of all-time.
Thirty seconds in, Castillo landed a tremendous left hook that stopped Corrales dead in his tracks and sent him to the canvas as his mouthpiece flew out. He rolled over on all fours and was in obvious distress, but shakily rose at the count of eight.
Referee Tony Weeks called timeout and replaced the mouthpiece. When the action resumed a few seconds later, Corrales again went down under heavy fire. While struggling to right himself, he pulled out his mouthpiece to aid him in catching his breath, as he said afterward.
It didn't seem like it would matter because the fight appeared to be over. Corrales was in a haze and he barely beat Weeks' count.
To hear Corrales' version, he had Castillo right where he wanted him. "I had all the heart and the desire and the knowledge I was going to win the fight," he said a few days later. "I had to stay in it."
Weeks called timeout again, deducted a point from Corrales for excessively spitting his mouthpiece, and had Corrales trainer Joe Goossen replace it.
Corrales was happy to trade the point for the roughly 30 seconds of recovery time he received while the bit was replaced. Refreshed as he could be at that stage of the fight, Corrales went back on the attack and, as they were trading, he finally hurt Castillo with a left hook.
"Unbelievable ebb and flow," exclaimed Showtime broadcaster Steve Albert.
For the next minute, they threw everything they had at each other, and Corrales somehow found the energy to get off a seven-punch flurry. He connected with several of them, leaving a vulnerable Castillo out on his feet against the ropes with his hands dangling at his side, forcing Weeks to stop the fight and give Corrales one of the most incredible comebacks you will ever see in any sport.
"The fight is over! Corrales with a remarkable, dramatic turnaround to win this fight," Albert bellowed. "Unbelievable!"
Also coming this week: Awards for knockout, prospect and fighter of the year
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo fought every round hard in May. But the 10th was the best of the year.