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2010-05-07
PAIN FOR LOVE: A TRIBUTE TO DIEGO

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

-TheodoreRoosevelt

The above quote by former President Roosevelt could easily have been inspired by many of the great bouts Diego "Chico" Corrales participated in. The death of one of my favorite pugilist saddens me deeply and I feel that we should all celebrate the life of this throwback fighter.



Chico's early rise in the sweet science included solid wins over then undefeated IBF 130lb titlist Roberto Garcia, Derrick"Smoke"Gainer, Justin Jukko, and an impressive knockout of the capable Angel Manfredy. Corrales steamrolled over his opposition until he met the undefeated WBC 130lb champion, "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The bout with Mayweather was the first time that the boxing world caught a glimpse of the immense heart Corrales carried inside his 130lb frame. Round after round Corrales stalked Mayweather looking for his opportunity to land his punishing right hand or devastating left hook, but Mayweather beat Diego to the punch time and again. Mayweather seemed to land at will with leaping left hooks, jabs and crisp right hands to the body and head of Chico. In the seventh round Corrales was dropped three times, each time rising before the ten-count to tell referee Richard Steele he was ready to continue. In between rounds he was asked by Dr. Margaret Goodman, "How are you doin' Diego? Are you all right?" To which he replied without a moment's hesitation, "I'm fine. I'M FINE. HE SAID!!!" To his corner's credit they also asked their fighter, "Are you gonna fight or should I stop the fight?" Unwavering in his self-belief, Diego said, "I'll fight!" Not many men can honestly say they would respond in similar fashion.



In the eighth round Diego was true to his word, he came and did what he said he would do, fight! He had success landing left hooks to the head of Mayweather that prompted HBO fight commentator Larry Merchant to say, "This counts as a hell of a round by Corrales coming of that last round." Jim Lampley agreed, "You can't question his heart that's for sure." No truer words were ever spoken.

In between rounds nine and ten, as Corrales' corner was trying to encourage him, he replied, "I'm giving you guys everything I got." Anyone who has seen that fight could not ever think otherwise. In the tenth frame Diego would be dropped twice more, after rising from the second knockdown he saw his father approaching the ring apron to throw in the towel and being the warrior he is Diego pleaded, "NO,NO,NO,NO,NO!" Referee Richard Steele properly acknowledged the wishes of his corner and waved off the bout. Diego ran over to his corner furiously asking, "What are you doing? What the f*** is wrong with you?"

That night, Diego Corrales lost the 0 on his record but won the respect of the boxing world and a place in my heart for the inhuman amount of courage he displayed.



Corrales next memorable fight would be his inaugural encounter with Joel "El Cepillo" Casamayor. For the first two rounds both men boxed well, but it was the superior footwork and counterpunching that earned Casamayor the edge. In the third round Casamayor landed a looping left hand which dropped Diego. In the fourth round, Joel sat down on his punches and fired off a crisp straight left that landed cleanly on the chin leaving Chico floored and hurt. El Cepillo was painting a masterpiece. Corrales rose to his feet determined to extract revenge on his crafty Cuban foe. Casamayor attacked Corrales and tried to finish him off but Diego would not go down without a fight, and landed one of his trademark left hooks that sent Casamayor to the canvas.

Casamayor showed grit and determination beating the count. In the fifth round both men traded heavy shots but neither would budge. Round six was a tactical jabbing contest until Casamayor landed a clean left hand on the mouth of Diego Corrales which sent his mouthpiece through his lip. Corrales began bleeding profusely. Perhaps fearing the fight would be stopped Diego attacked ferociously and wobbled Casamayor shortly before the bell rang. In between rounds Dr. Margaret Goodman came to inspect the damage to Diego's mouth. Unlike the Mayweather fight, nothing Diego could say could persuade her to let him fight. She apologetically informed Corrales that the cut was to severe for him to continue. "One more round please! Just one more round", he said. Looking out for his best interest, those cries fell on deaf ears and Diego Corrales was again defeated.



Corrales boxed beautifully in a return bout with Casamayor winning a split decision. That victory paved the way for a showdown with undefeated, power punching, WBO lightweight champion, Acelino "Popo" Frietas.

For the first seven rounds the champion from Brazil used constant lateral movement and his herky-jerky style to jump in and out landing big punches to the head of Corrales. Diego continued to stalk knowing it would be hard for Popo to keep up his frantic pace. In the eighth round the moment that Chico had been waiting for had arrived. Corrales stunned Frietas with a right hand, Chico seized the opportunity and floored the champ with another brutal right. Round nine started off where eight had ended with Diego decking Popo with another crushing right. In the tenth round Corrales battered the weary champ into submission with a devastating right-left power punch combo. When asked if he wanted to continue by referee Mike Ortega, Frietas responded in a very non-Diego manner and shook his head no. Corrales moved up in weight to dethrone an undefeated champion; one would imagine Chico felt a great sense of vindication after the Mayweather efforts.

On May 7th 2005, WBO 135lb champion, Diego "Chico" Corrales met WBC 135lb champion, "El Terrible" Jose Luis Castillio in a bout that the boxing world had been clamoring for. Given the straightforward no guts, no glory style of both men, this fight had FOTY written all over it. What took place that evening was a brutal masterpiece that would leave both mans' names linked forever like Ali/ Frazier and Zale/Graziano.

In the opening stanza both men dispensed with the feeling out process and elected to fight on the inside ripping uppercuts and digging hooks to the body. After the first round it was clear that this fight would live up to it's pre-fight hype. Jose Luis Castillo controlled the first half of round two, landing fluidly with a combination of uppercuts and hooks to the body and head of Corrales. Not one to be outdone, Corrales fought back and wobbled Castillo on two occasions using his patented left hook. Both men refused to box and create distance, opting to stand head to shoulder and partake in an inside slugfest. This would be the pattern all night long. Lucky us! In the third round both men scored well but its JLC who appeard to have found his groove finishing the round strongly. In the first half of the fourth round, Diego jabbed effectively which created distance and he was able score well with strong hooks and right hands. For reasons only Chico knows he stopped jabbing and again traded big shots inside with El Terrible. The fifth round was another exhibition of fistic trench warfare. Picking a winner of these rounds would rival Sophie's choice. In the sixth round Diego had his best round of the fight landing crisp, heavy combos on his rugged Mexican counterpart. With approximately 14 seconds remaining JLC landed a left uppercut followed by a right hand which stunned Chico. Before the bells sounds Corrales is staggered once more by a right-left combo. As the seventh round began Diego sported a dark mouse underneath his right eye which was a testament to the solid right hands of El Terrible.

The bout continues it its fan friendly manner with both men unwilling to budge an inch and trade heavy blows. Steve Albert, Showtime's boxing commentator, praised both men saying, "These two guys are taking the term boxing warrior to another level." With five seconds remaining Corrales unleashed a left hook that buckled the knees of Castillo, which in itself was a huge feat because the WBC champ had never met the canvas in his entire career. As the eighth round began the mouse under Corrales eye had transformed into a rat.Diego sensed his opponent was still hurt Diego rushed Castillo and rocked him with a double left hook. The first 2 minutes of the round belonged to Chico who used his superior hand speed and proper distance to score often. JLC swung the momentum in his favor by landing a right uppercut followed by a right hand to the temple that sent Corrales reeling. Castillo continued his attack, intent on finishing Corrales off, and landed a left uppercut that sent Diego's mouthpiece to the canvas. It comes as no surprise that there was not an immediate lull in the action for Referee Tony Weeks to replace his mouth guard. Corrales was visibly hurt and he had to do something to keep Castillo off him, he found that "something" in the form of another devastating left hook, which landed squarely on Castillo wobbling him shortly before the sounding of the bell.

As the ninth round began Corrales made the sign of the cross in his corner. As Diego came forward he attempted to touch gloves with his opponent. Castillo was in the midst of throwing a jab to the body, but realized Chico's show of sportsmanship he pulled his punch, and nodded to his fellow warrior to acknowledge each other's courage and determination. This was a great show of class by both men. For the first time that night, both fighters appeared to be taking a round off as the pace had slowed. Castillo was in danger of losing a point in the ninth as he was warned twice for low blows. The action picked up in the final minute when Corrales raked Jose with a left hook. Castillo fired right back and landed a crunching right hand just before the bell.

As the 10th round began the desire of how badly each man wants to win is mirrored in the face of his opponent. Corrales had swelling under both eyes and Castillo had a deep cut above his left eye and facial swelling, exacerbated by his high cheekbones. Chico was floored 30 seconds into the round.

Castillo bent to his left and feinted a left hook to the body but craftily aimed for the chin of Corrales; his ploy worked beautifully and Corrales crashed to the canvas hard. Chico beat the count. When asked by Referee Tony Weeks if he wanted to continue Corrales said what else? YES!



A timeout was called as a result of Diego losing his mouthpiece; it was rinsed and replaced by trainer Dan Goosen who sent his fighter back into war. Corrales was visibly hurt he held his gloves high but didn't offer much in the way of offense and was floored promptly by a left, right, left combo. Diego again beat the count rising at 9; he removed his mouthpiece and was deducted a point by Weeks. The fight was no longer close; it was now a 10-6 round for Castillo. Corrales had to knockout his opponent to win, an event that would seem rather improbable. JLC pressured Diego to the ropes and tried to close the show. Corrales back was now against the ropes literally and figuratively, Chico landed a crunching overhand right that hurt Jose and stops him in his tracks. Not letting this opportunity pass him by, Corrales landed a hard left hook that causes Castillo to stagger into the ropes. Showing a large heart of his own Castillo fired a jab- right hand combo to the chin of Corrales but his punches didn't carry the same weight.



Corrales landed yet another left hook, this time JLC body stiffens and he falls back against the ropes. The improbable feat seemed within his grasp .Corrales landed two chopping right hands, followed by a volley of hooks and right hands; after one particularly devastating hook Castillo's body went limp, his hands at his side defenseless. Referee Tony Weeks had no choice but to stop this epic battle. Diego "Chico" Corrales was now the proud owner of Castillo's WBC lightweight championship and of one most dramatic comebacks in the history of the sport. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, for the heart and courage they displayed; and Referee Tony Weeks for allowing these combatants to put on an exhibition on the lost art of infighting. The mere thought of this fight gives me goose bumps

Sadly, Diego "Chico" Corrales was killed Monday night 3 years ago in a motorcycle accident in Las Vegas. He lived the life many of us have only dreamed about, he heard the words "The winner and NEW !" Forever Chico will always be known as "Champ". He had a tattoo which read, "Pain for love" how fitting. Diego suffered through much pain for the love of his fans and the love of our sport. It is us who feel the pain for love. Thank you for pouring your heart and soul out in the ring. We will miss you dearly. God bless you and your family. R.I.P.

Diego "Chico" Corrales August 25th, 1977- May 7th 2007

Pain for love

 
Article By: G.H. HUBER