There are two schools of thought on the rematch Saturday (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo.
One theory is that Corrales proved in the first fight that he possesses the punching power to knock out Castillo (52-7-1, 46 KOs) and will do so earlier the second time
around. The other is that Corrales (40-2, 33 KOs) absorbed more punishment than Castillo in their epic first encounter and will have less in the tank, physically, to
hold off the relentless Mexican in the rematch.
The majority of the boxing media seems to be going with the first theory, which is interesting because had you done a poll of who would win a rematch immediately after the first fight, my guess is that at least 75 percent of the folks among press row would have picked Castillo, based on that second theory.
In fact, I would have been among that 75 percent. They say, however, that time heals all wounds. Although I'm sure that both Corrales and Castillo still feel certain internal injuries from their brutal slugfest of five months ago, I've seen my man "Chico" without his face bruised and eyes swollen shut at various fight cards (signing autographs and happily posing for pictures with fans). That has made me forget about the punishment he absorbed the night of May 7.
I've become one of those "know-it-alls" who thinks Corrales will find a way to stop Castillo again.
Corrales hasn't forgotten about the pain and punishment he received five months ago, but he's put it behind him and his sole focus for the past 12 weeks has been the rematch.
No sex, no booze, no night life, no fatty foods; only hardcore training.
"Solitary confinement" is what Corrales calls it. "Two months of staring at the four walls of my hotel room."
The only form of entertainment Corrales occasionally allows himself during camp are video games.
He says he's going to stop Castillo earlier this time around, and judging by the intensity of his sparring sessions I believe that's his goal, but if he wins Saturday, then it probably won't come easy. It's never easy for Corrales.
He's a nearly 6-foot cat who likes to fight as though he is 5-foot-4. Ricardo Juarez (who's 5-5) is more apt to fight on the outside than Corrales.
Two weeks ago, I watched Corrales work the hell out of a heavy bag at Joe Goossen's gym in Van Nuys, Calif.
For much of the 10 rounds, he wailed away with both hands while leaning into the bag. I guess when you have knockout power in both hands, especially the kind of pop that gets results even when the punch travels about six inches, you like to say close to your target.
However, for about three rounds, Corrales backed away from the swinging bag and snapped a hard, fast jab from the outside before taking a step forward and letting loose with quick three-and-four-punch combinations. Then he would step back out, pop another jab, step around the bag and shoot another hard jab before dropping another combination.
Just when I began to think that Corrales was working on utilizing an outside game plan for this rematch, he went right back inside, touching
either his forehead or shoulder to the bag while cranking out heavy body shots with both hands.
Recent history tells us that the rematches to great fights seldom live up to the original (though Ali-Frazier, Carbajal-Gonzalez, Barrera-Morales and
Gatti-Ward are a few examples of tremendous sequels) but I think this return match will be one of the exceptions.
Castillo doesn't hit as hard as Corrales but he's more experienced, physically stronger and is a better counterpuncher and inside technician. The most important factor is that he has the same iron will and warrior mentality that Corrales possesses.
Neither man will shy away from tough fighters, tough fights or tough rematches.
Castillo, who's engaged in 60 pro bouts since turning pro at the age of 16 a little more than 15 years ago, fought rugged veteran Javier Jauregui twice,
when he was 20 and 22 years old, losing both fights by 10-round stoppage (on cuts).
Five years ago, he fought Steve Johnston in an immediate rematch -- just three months after lifting the WBC lightweight title from the classy and underrated former title holder -- defending his belt via majority draw.
And let's not forget that Castillo fought Floyd Mayweather twice in 2002, giving the claimant to the pound-for-pound throne the toughest 24 rounds of
Castillo reminds me of old-timers like Carmen Basilio, the former welterweight and middleweight champ who engaged in 10 rematches or three-fight series in his Hall of Fame career, most notably with Billy Graham, Tony DeMarco, Johnny Saxton, Sugar Ray Robinson and Gene Fullmer.
Basilio's fights with DeMarco (which he won), Saxton and Robinson (which he split) and Fullmer (which he lost) won Fight of the Year honors.
Both fights with DeMarco were FOY-worthy. Both fights with Fullmer, who engaged in seven rematches or multi-fight series in his HOF career, were also FOY-worthy.
Although Corrales only has engaged in three rematches during his 9½-year career, his most recent two-fight series was against a quality fighter. Corrales took on Joel Casamayor five months after it appeared that the crafty Cuban southpaw had his number, dropping him twice in their entertaining first fight.
"I only stayed at 130 pounds to get back at Casamayor," said Corrales, who outpointed Casamayor in their rematch, despite suffering a flash knockdown late in the fight.
Corrales has been dropped 10 times in his fights with Mayweather, Casamayor and Castillo, but he claims he was never seriously hurt or out of it in any of those trips to the canvas versus those elite fighters.
"The only time I was out of it in my pro career was after being clipped in the first round by a slow journeyman named Isagani Pumar early in my career," Corrales said.
"I never went down in that fight but I didn't know where I was until I got back to my corner. I was good as can be in all those knockdowns with Mayweather, Casamayor and Castillo. I recover very fast.
"Most of those knockdowns were from making 130 pounds. Once I moved up to 135, I walked through the punches of Acelino Freitas, who was supposed to be
one of the strongest fighters at lightweight. As strong as Castillo is, it took him 10 rounds to put me down."
And Corrales had enough fire in his belly to do what he did after those knockdowns. Oh yeah, this is going to be another classic. Here we go again,
If Corrales wins this rematch, he'll probably have to get up off the canvas again. If Castillo gains revenge, he'll probably have to go through nine or
10 rounds of hell again to wear his nemesis down.
Honestly, even though I'm picking Chico to pull it off again, I believe this is a true pick'em fight and I don't care who wins. My only hope is that
both men walk away from the prize fight without any serious injuries.
I had the honor of meeting both Basilio and Fullmer six years ago at a mixer the day before the World Boxing Hall of Fame's annual banquet. Both men retired to enjoy healthy and productive careers and lives after boxing and both men remain in good health to this day. Although I'm looking forward to another great fight this Saturday, this is ultimately what I wish for both Corrales and Castillo.