Castillo punishes Lazcano for 12 rounds

Updated: June 8, 2004, 2:06 PM ET
By Thomas Gerbasi |

Jose Luis Castillo regained the lightweight title with a punishing 12-round unanimous decision over Juan Lazcano in the HBO pay-per-view opener for the Bernard Hopkins-Robert Allen and Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Sturm fights.

Scores were 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113 for Castillo, who regained the WBC lightweight title he had lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2002.

After a slow first round that saw both men trying to find their bearings, Castillo attempted to close the distance a bit more aggressively in the second, but Lazcano used an effective jab and movement to keep the Mexicali resident at bay

In the third, Lazcano did his best to pick up the pace, but a minute in, he caught a solid left hook from Castillo, who soon had "The Hispanic Causing Panic" bleeding from the nose. Lazcano didn't back off, though, bloodying Castillo's nose in return as the promised action finally heated up, only to dip back to a more measured pace in the fourth as both tried to impose their fight plans on the other.

At trainer Joe Goossen's urging, Lazcano started the fifth in aggressive fashion, but the harder-punching Castillo eagerly obliged with short hooks to the head and body that continued to rearrange Lazcano's features.

Most of the sixth was fought on the inside, and Lazcano scored his best shots of the fight, two successive left hooks that put Castillo on his heels momentarily. Yet by the end of the round, Castillo was firing back with his own hooks in what was slowly becoming a grueling battle.

Lazcano scored with the hook and straight right efficiently in the seventh as well, and even made sure to follow up after landing, unlike his work in the earlier rounds. And though he wasn't hurting Castillo, he was scoring, even though his foe was scoring and hurting him.

Some of the best sustained action of the fight took place in the eighth stanza, with each bloodied battler landing thudding shots, and Castillo holding a slight edge over the course of three minutes.

With little over a minute left in the ninth round, another round of brutal attrition, Lazcano popped Castillo with a straight left that sent the former world champion into the ropes and almost on the floor, but Castillo roared right back with his own attack to prove not only that he wasn't hurt but also that he was the superior lightweight.

Castillo's pressure carried the tenth round, and in the eleventh, his body attack finally appeared to have gotten to a weary Lazcano. And though the punishment kept coming, Lazcano gamely fought back, even though Castillo had left his face nearly unrecognizable, his eyes badly swollen and blood coming from his nose and mouth.

With three minutes left to pull out the fight, Lazcano tried hard in the closing moments to gain the victory, but without the firepower to hurt Castillo, the El Paso native was unable to pull off a miracle.

With the victory, Castillo ups his record to 50-6-1, with 45 KOs. Lazcano falls to 33-3-1 with 25 KOs.