Yes, there were some cards this past weekend on Showtime and DAZN that we'll touch upon later. But there was this particular tweet that I saw on Friday that spotlighted Jose Luis Castillo that captured my attention.
I had been wanting to pay tribute to Castillo for awhile, and in my view he deserves a permanent place in Canastota as a member of the International Boxing Hall-of-Fame. This isn't to besmirch anybody else, or question their status, but Castillo's resume' is superior to more than a few that have permanent residence in those hallowed halls.
Regardless, if I still had a vote, Castillo would be getting a check mark next to his name on my ballot, without question.
Best known early on for being a sparring partner of the great Julio Cesar Chavez, and after losing twice to Javier Jauregui (both by 10th round KO) and Cesar Soto (KO2), he went in against the highly regarded Stevie Johnston for his WBC lightweight title in June of 2000. In what was the Ring Magazine 'upset of the year' he lifted that crown in a tight battle.
Three months later he defended that belt in Johnston's hometown in Denver, Colorado, and fought to a draw. Castillo then dispatched the respected Cesar Bazan in six. But the consensus was that he was just keeping this belt warm for Floyd Mayweather, who would soon be moving up to 135.
When they met in April of 2002 in Las Vegas, what was thought to be a relatively easy victory for the then 'Pretty Boy', instead became a hotly contested decision that saw Mayweather win a disputed unanimous verdict. More than a few observers (such as HBO's Harold Lederman) had Castillo winning. This is bout is considered among the toughest of Mayweather's career.
Their rematch in December of that year was a much more clear cut win for Mayweather. But the run of Castillo was just beginning.
After two tune-up bouts, he faced the streaking Juan Lazcano for the vacant WBC 135-pound title and hammered home a convincing victory. Castillo then rallied late to defeat the crafty, Joel Casamayor, over 12 rounds, and then wore down Julio Diaz (who had been the IBF titlist) in 10 rounds. All of this in a nine month span.
Then in May of 2005, Castillo participated in what is just merely the greatest fight I have ever witnessed from press row. I don't have to recount this epic affair all that much, but it says here that Castillo got the shaft as 'Chico' spat out his mouthpiece, and bought himself some valuable time in that memorable 10th round:
Neither boxer was ever quite the same after this grinding battle. Five months later, they rematched with Castillo winning a tainted fight in four rounds, as he failed to make the lightweight limit. There was a noticeable decline in his performances from that point, and his knockout loss to Ricky Hatton in 2007 signaled that his run as an elite, world-class performer had come to an end.
Castillo played out the string for years with a series of bouts that weren't nearly as meaningful as the ones he had been apart of. He eventually retired after getting stopped by Ruslan Provodnikov in five rounds in Russia in 2014 with a career mark of 66-13-1(57 KOs).
At his best, Castillo was a skilled in-fighter, who didn't necessarily have great speed or any particular speed, but he understood how to break down opponents with both hands in surgical fashion. He was an honest worker. There was a lot of 'JC Superstar' to his game. He took a measured approach to his fights, and had an underrated craft to his arsenal.
I personally enjoyed my numerous interviews with him that were conducted with the late Ricardo Jimenez (God rest his soul, the best interpreter I've ever had), he was to me, a real fighter, who gave honest and thoughtful answers to whatever came his way.
Unfortunately for 'el Temible', he was largely overshadowed by his Mexican compatriots like 'el Terrible' Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez. Despite his impressive run, even at his apex he was never truly a box-office star, even within the Mexican fan base. Castillo was a guy that garnered respect and admiration from hard-core fans, but was relatively unknown to the general public. Those type of individuals tend to get overlooked when it comes to these kind of things.
And it seems as though fate has worked against him. What if he gets the decision in the first bout with Mayweather? Or if Corrales doesn't use stall tactics to help him turn the fight around in their initial match-up? If just one of these things go his way, who knows just how he would be perceived by the pundits. His late career troubles at the scales most likely don't help his cause.
But his overall body of work, and his contribution to the game, in my view merit his induction into the Hall.
The fear is that he may end up being boxing's version of Joe Carter.
Lightweight hopeful, Frank Martin had a difficult time with Artem Harutunyan, but came on strong down the stretch to win a close unanimous decision on the Showtime main event from the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas....It looks like it's the end of the road for Viktor Postol, who was stopped in seven by Elvis Rodriguez....Meanwhile at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Alycia Baungardner looked impressive in retaining her junior lightweight titles over Christina Linardatou over 10.... Andy Cruz made a successful professional debut on this card...For those of you who don't know who Joe Carter is, he was a guy who had 396 home rounds, 1445 RBI's, and will always be known for this World Series walk-off home run as a Toronto Blue Jay in 1993....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.....