When Diego Corrales stepped into the ring against Jose Luis Castillo on May 7th 2005 little did he know it was a fated day. He had already won the IBA, IBF and WBO super featherweight titles and was now almost a year removed from a successful move to lightweight defeating Brazilian Acelino Freitas in the 10th round for the WBO title.
However, on this night Corrales would become legendary against the three-time defending WBC, The Ring, lineal lightweight titlist and both were hungry for the WBO title. What ensued was a phone booth styled brawl that left severe facial damage to both fighters and is deemed a classic bout for the ages.
In round five, Castillo was cut in the left eyebrow and by round seven Corrales showed bad puffs under each eye. Corrales was knocked down twice in round 10th and spit his mouthpiece out after each knockdown, causing controversy because of the extra recovery time he received as his corner rinsed out the mouthpiece. Corrales had a point deducted after the second infraction.
After his second knockdown, Corrales bled below the right eye and Castillo sported a puff under his right eye. As Castillo moved in to finish off Corrales, the always-dangerous Corrales landed a huge left hook that staggered Castillo. Corrales quickly followed up with a flurry of hard punches causing referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight. Both fighters took a tremendous amount of punishment in the unforgettable war.
Before that fight, Corrales went 33-0 knocking out future trainer Robert Garcia and Angel Manfredy during his super featherweight tenure. It wasn't until he met the unbeatable “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in 2001 that Corrales tasted his first defeat and first knockout of his career. In the bout, Mayweather knocked down Corrales five times (three times in the seventh round and twice in the tenth). After the fifth knockdown, Corrales' corner stopped the fight, despite Corrales' protests.
A Dream Cut Short
When you think about the greatness that Mayweather would eventually embody, it is tragic to know that in six short years after their matchup Corrales would be gone.
Born in Columbia, South Carolina but raised in Sacramento, California, Corrales joined the gang life at the age of 13 and started a violent streak that could have ended his life early on. Instead, after witnessing his best friend’s death via a drive-by shooting he went to culinary school and began boxing at a Police Athletic League Boxing Gym.
Corrales began having major issues towards the end of a decorated amateur and professional run. Shortly after the Mayweather fight, Corrales served 14 months in prison after opting for a plea bargain on charges he faced for domestic violence. He lost his last three fights including a rematch with Jose Luis Castillo where he was knocked out in the fourth round. After his last bout against Joshua Clottey on April 7th 2007, the next month Corrales was riding a motorcycle and attempted to pass another vehicle at high speed, striking the back of the car. He was thrown more than 100 feet into oncoming traffic and struck by another vehicle. When he arrived at a Las Vegas hospital he was pronounced deceased upon arrival.
With so much focus on the lighter weight classes in boxing and the legacies created by those he fought, we must all remember that Diego Corrales was a titan in boxing that will be forever missed and left the ring of life too soon.