If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
That seems to be the attitude of Jose Luis Castillo as he enters his highly-anticipated rematch with Diego Corrales this Saturday night (Showtime PPV 9 ET) at UNLV's Thomas and Mack Center. And should we really be surprised that after 15 years in the game, the Mexicali mauler is going to come straight at "Chico" once the bell rings?
"Well, as far as I'm concerned, that's all you're going to see out of me," said Castillo during a media teleconference last week.
"That's the way I fight. That's the way I'm going to go at him all the time. If he does something else then we'll figure it out there, but I hope he fights like he did last time. I think everyone will enjoy it and maybe we'll have an even better fight than we did last time."
Like many notable Mexican fighters, Castillo seems to fight for something beyond the money. He seems determined to give the fans great fights and putting on a great show.
It makes you think of those old "Boxeo" telecasts on Saturday nights in the 1980's, when a good performance in the darkened Mexican ring wasn't greeted with just cheers, but with money tossed into the ring. That's the way Castillo (52-7-1, 46 KOs) fights, as if his paycheck is riding on the outcome.
And in a way, it is this Saturday night. With a victory, Castillo will have regained his lightweight championship and perhaps set up an even bigger rubber match with Corrales (depending on the outcome of the sequel). With a victory, Castillo also might have prepared himself for a run at 140 pounds, where old nemesis Floyd Mayweather Jr. awaits.
"I think if I win the fight, I'll surely like to make one or two defenses of that title, and then, move up to 140 and look to fight (Miguel) Cotto, (Ricky) Hatton or Mayweather," said Castillo, who at 31, seems to be getting even better with age.
It's odd to say that about a fighter coming off a loss, but the Corrales fight was truly one in which there were no losers.
Sure, it's a Hallmark card sentiment, but did anyone's opinion of Castillo drop after that May 7 bout at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas? Remember, seconds before his 10th round TKO loss, the Mexicali resident had Corrales (40-2, 33 KOs) on the deck twice?
Yet despite the copious amounts of praise given to Castillo in defeat, to him, it's still just a loss.
"I certainly don't feel that I'm the champion," Castillo said. "I mean, he got the belts, he's the world champion right now and all I'm thinking about is getting them back. The fight was won, but for me it got away. I'm just looking forward to fighting him again and regaining my title."
To win this weekend, most believe Castillo will just have to do what he's always done: Keep the pressure on, dig in with his hooks to the body and head, and keep his defense tight enough as to not get caught by Corrales' heavy hits.
The plan worked well enough the first time, but then came the 10th round. Then, Castillo sent a bruised and battered Corrales down to the canvas twice, seemingly ensuring a decision victory, and with the right amount of patience, possibly a TKO or KO.
That's when Castillo deviated from the script that had made him one of Mexico's unsung fistic heroes, the man who gave Mayweather the "Pretty Boy's" roughest moments as a professional, the man who had beaten world-class foes Juan Lazcano, Joel Casamayor, and Julio Diaz in a nine-month span.
For the first time in recent memory, Castillo got reckless. Forget all the talk about mouthpiece-gate; the usual creeping death approach of Castillo the finisher would have probably put Corrales down a third time and prompted a stoppage or perhaps even a knockout.
In the worst-case scenario, Castillo would have brought an insurmountable lead into the final two rounds and the subsequent desperation by Corrales would have left "Chico" reckless and wide open for Castillo's short hooks. In other words, Castillo had the fight in his hands.
And then he gave it away.
Senor Paciente fought as if he was the one on the verge of being knocked out, and suddenly, with the opportunity to finish the most exhilarating -- and at the same time, most grueling -- night of his career, he left his chin exposed to Corrales' thunder.
With a scrappy, desperate fighter in front of him, that's all it took.
Moments later, referee Tony Weeks stepped between the fighters and halted the bout in Corrales' favor. It was one of the sport's most amazing comebacks, but with every amazing comeback, you must have an amazing collapse.
"When he went down twice, I just felt like I had to fight," Castillo said. "The fight was won. I felt like it was done. Even when he got up I knew one more shot would put him down for good. That's all I kept thinking.
"Maybe I got over confident. He caught me and the referee stepped aside and it was over, very quickly. So, I just felt very sad and frustrated at allowing myself to get caught at a time when I had the fight won."
So what does a man do after a fight like that?
He dusts himself off, goes up to the mountains of Mexico, and gets ready to do it again. No tune-ups here.
"I personally don't think I could have waited that long," said Castillo. "You know, I want to get this; I thought I had the fight won last time and I could not wait too long to get the chance at him again. I want to take that, I want to get this over with and I think I'm looking really forward to having it now, rather than way later."
Maybe not seeing the first bout in its entirety adds to his eagerness to get some "get back" from Corrales. Who in their right mind would want to walk through fire like that once, let alone twice?
"You know, when you're inside the ring, you're just trying to win, you're trying to do the best you can and it's really hard to capture it. I haven'teven seen the whole fight yet. So I don't know how great it was."
But regardless, he's prepared for another slugfest, as a nice break followed by six weeks of high-altitude training have Castillo entering the rematch of the new century with no ill effects from the brutal first contest.
"I didn't do anything for three months," he said. "I didn't get back to training for three months and I feel like new. I feel like I didn't get hit as much as he did. I think my body will respond perfectly on October 8th."
That's always a dicey proposition for a fighter, and in this case, both fighters, considering the mental and physical wear and tear they put themselves through in May. Castillo admits that he's going to try to block a few more shots with his gloves and not his head, but other than that, he insists that his gameplan will remain unchanged.
"We talked about being more careful, not taking so many shots," he said.
"And we're going to see if we can block some of those shots, and be a little more defensive-minded some of the time, but you won't see many more changes out of me. I'm going forward and looking for the knockout."
Corrales-Castillo II? This is a fight. Simple, direct, and without question.
The only thing missing will be the money flying into the ring.