Photos by Sumio Yamada
DIEGO CORRALES vs JOEL CASAMAYOR
Unbelievable. After castigating Jose Luis Castillo for twice failing to make weight in successive matches against him one of which was aborted and accusing his rival of disrespecting the sport, Diego Chicoâ€? Corrales on Friday scaled 140 pounds for what would have been a WBC lightweight title defence against Joel Casamayor and then was able to shed only a pound in the allotted two hours.
The bout goes ahead on Showtime over the 12-round championship distance, but Corrales lost the title on the scales. If Corrales wins, the title becomes vacant. Should Casamayor win, the Cuban, who weighed in right on the 135-pound limit, becomes champion.
Casamayor will receive compensation initially $120,000 of the $240,000 fine that the Nevada commission has levied on Corrales. There is also an agreement with Corraless promoter, Gary Shaw, in which Casamayor will receive an undisclosed sum.
What Corrales has gained, though, could be worth more than money. With the usual 30-odd hours in which to rehydrate and replenish his system it seems logical to assume he will be the bigger and stronger man. As it is, we have essentially a junior welterweight against a lightweight.
Corrales admits he is in the wrong and deserves to be punished in the form of fines. Yet the brutal truth is that this time it is Corrales who has hurt the sport.
Goodness knows boxing is an easy enough target without something like this happening again.
Yet I have to believe Corrales when he says he sacrificed and went through agonies to get his weight down even to junior welter. His trainer, Joe Goossen, always a professional, will have worked with the fighter every step of the way to try to get the final, stubborn pounds off.
It just seems that Corrales, as was the case with Castillo, tried to stay in the lightweight division too long.
Now we have to see what effect Corrales's extra weight will have when the two boxers begin the fight.
When Castillo was knocked out by the bigger, stronger Castillo in their catchweights rematch, two things were immediately noticeable: Corraless punches did not seem to be hurting Castillo as much as they had done in the first fight, while Castillos blows appeared to be having more of an effect and much sooner than in their initial meeting.
If we have the same scenario in Saturdays fight, then Casamayor is in big trouble.
The gamble for Casamayor and his people is that the 5ft 11ins Corrales, who has lately struggled to make 135 pounds, might have seriously depleted himself even making the junior welter limit.
Its worth noting that a boxer who comes in over the limit does not always win the fight. Only last month Joan Guzman was a winner despite giving away 2 1/2 pounds when Jorge Barrios failed to make weight for their junior lightweight title bout. I was ringside in Las Vegas eight years ago when Rosendo Alvarez came in over the 105-pound for his title bout with Ricardo Lopez and enjoyed a 4 3/4-pound advantage, a huge amount for such small men yet the marvellous Lopez won the fight.
So there are encouraging precedents for Casamayor.
Additionally, it could help Casamayor that the boxers will have a second weigh-in at noon with a 147-pound limit although a similar second, fight-day weigh-in didnt help Corrales when the over-the-weight Castillo knocked him out.
The weight factor complicates the issue of trying to pick a winner.
My first thought, when the fight was announced, was a unanimous decision win for Corrales. Then, hearing reports of how seriously Casamayor was taking the fight, plus some whispers about all not being well with Corrales, I started to be swayed a little towards an upset.
Now, I do not know what to think.
Nor, clearly, do the players because the lines on the fight have hardly moved.
My original thinking was that Corrales would box a similar fight to the one he did in his rematch with Casamayor in March 2004, using his height and reach to outbox his four-inch shorter opponent from the outside.
With the weight advantage, though, he might feel that he can go in and overpower Casamayor.
Casamayor, of course, dropped Corrales three times in their previous two meetings while going down once himself. But will the left hands from Casamayors southpaw stance have as much effect now that he is facing a junior welterweight instead of the junior lightweight of the boxers first two fights?
There was already a high degree of intrigue even without Fridays weighty matters, with insiders wondering how much each man has left.
Casamayor, 35, is the older fighter by six years and has spent many years in the ring: a long amateur career included an Olympic gold medal in 1992.
Yet Corrales, 29, has had some career-shortening wars, including being knocked down six times in his last six fights. In terms of actual wear and tear on the fighters, there might not be much in it.
Casamayor was unimpressive when stopping Lamont Pearson in his last fight, although as his trainer, Roger Bloodworth, pointed out to me, the survival-minded Pearson can make anyone look bad. But Corrales was knocked out in his last fight and has been inactive for a year.
I get the sense that Corrales will not be looking for a long fight tonight that, perhaps unsure about his late-rounds staying power or simply because he is the bigger man, he will try to hurt Casamayor early.
With all the simmering bad feeling (which I am assured is genuine) and now the craziness of the weigh-in, it just seems to me that this fight will be more like the first one the one that Casamayor won rather than the set piece boxing match of the encore.
If Casamayor can hit Corrales with the left and hurt him, he can win. If he can hit him but cant hurt him, its all over for the Cuban.
I think we will probably know very early how this one is going to go but until the fight starts, how can anyone be sure?
Logic tells me that Corraless weight advantage is probably be going to be too much for Casamayor but it is an opinion offered tentatively because only Corrales and those closest to him can know the true effect that weight-making has had on him.