Sunday, February 11, 2007


From left: Joel Casamayor and Diego Corrales are at it for the third time.

Plain and simple, Diego Corrales and Joel Casamayor just don’t like each other.

Let Diego tell you in his own words the feelings he has for Casamayor who he will fight for the third time on Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas: "When I'm done with him there won't be enough of him to send back to Cuba. I'm going to torture him. I will retire him."

These two 135 pound billy goats locked horns in 2003 and again in 2004. Casamayor won the first fight on a sixth round TKO and Corrales won the second fight only by the slimmest of split decisions. There’s a lot to fight for in this one. Not only is this is the fight that will settle all of the name calling - the victor will also be the undisputed world lightweight king.

Oh, and by the way, Joel Casamayor doesn’t like Corrales much either. Let Joel tell you in his own words the feelings he has for Corrales: "He talks a lot of garbage. He talks about me and says I’m not a good person and he doesn’t even know me. That’s why on October 7th I’m going to break his head. I’m going to put his mouthpiece through his face again like I did at Mandalay Bay the first time. He’s lost every October fight he’s ever fought - and he’s going to lose another one."

Of course the way all of this came about for the third time was because of angry words. At the time, another fight between Corrales and Casamayor wasn’t on anyone’s radar screen. It all started back on July 7th when Diego Corrales was the in studio special guest on ESPN Friday Night Fights. It just happened to be the same night that Casamayor fought Lamont Pearson on the network. After the fight was over each was asked to say a few words – and that’s when things got ugly again.

Asked to comment on Casamayor’s performance against Pearson, Corrales was blunt and to the point. "I tell you what Joel, let me tell you. I hope you didn’t think you looked good."

Casamayor responded harshly: "Why don’t you give me the opportunity? We were supposed to get the rematch after we beat you the second time too. We backed you up the last six rounds of that fight and had you down! And later we had a rematch clause and you didn’t want to fight us! We had to go fight Daniel Seda! You’re supposed to be such a bad man on the planet, why didn’t you make it happen? Make it happen brother! Let’s do it, we’re number one! The fans wanna’ see it! I knocked you out!"

The third fight was conceived at that moment and three months to the day since they exchanged heated words they’ll meet again in Vegas.

This third match has lots of intangibles that make it tough to pick a winner. Corrales is coming off a fourth-round knockout at the hands of Jose Luis Castillo. Casamayor, on the other hand, has appeared rusty and well off his best form against sub-par opposition.

Corrales has always struggled with his weight and again he’ll again have to push his body and soul to its very limits to hit 135 pounds. Corrales resembles a mix between a premature baby and a prisoner of war on the days he has to step on the scales for official weigh-ins. His gray skin is dry as chalk and his dark brown eyes look like small pebbles inside deep, hollow sockets. Whether the effort to make weight will sap his strength is a huge question mark every time Corrales fights.

An observer who saw him only a month ago made this observation and thinks Diego has many pounds to shed before he’s a 135-pounder again: "I saw Corrales at the California Boxing Hall of Fame dinner in Studio City. I was struck by his size. In street clothes it’s hard to believe that he’s a lightweight."

Casamayor is listed as 35 years-old, but his real age has always been of great speculation and he may be even older. Since accurate birth records are hard to come by in his home country of Cuba, Joel Casamayor may not know how old he really is. Whatever the case, Casamayor does not possess the same legs he once did. Gone are the graceful, nimble movements of his prime years. As he has aged, Casamayor has become a more stationary fighter and he glides in an out much less frequently which will make him an inviting target for Corrales’ damaging short punches.

Casamayor is perhaps one of the most skilled fighters ever in the manner in which he uses foul tactics. His shaved head is a wrecking ball that he uses to ram opponents in the face with. So subtle are his dirty moves that referees often don’t pick up on them but Casamayor’s head is his third fist.

It’s the questions of what each man has left that will really be answered on Saturday night. Boxing history tells us that when two fighters come together at times when they are a bit past their best – great fights can happen. Especially in this case where the stakes are so high and each man truly believes that he has a personal score to settle. Corrales, the champion, is the betting favorite at the Vegas sportsbooks.

For his part, Corrales is looking to get this Cuban albatross untangled from around his neck and move on with his life. "I think we have bad blood between us because we started off on the wrong foot and we stayed that way. We're like oil and water. We don't mix. I know he's going to bring an explosive performance because this means everything to him. But it means everything to me too. I'm looking to close this chapter in my career."

As for Casamayor, he’s looking forward to Saturday night and he views Corrales as damaged goods. "This fight is going to happen, and it is going to happen ugly. This is personal. Corrales got into it with me. He’s been in a lot of ring wars. He's burnt. I just need to touch him on the chin and he will go. Corrales can talk all the shit he wants, but we’ll settle it October 7th."

Sticks and stones might break their bones. But names will never hurt them.

October 2006

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