By Sergio Martinez
Photo © Chris Cozzone/FightWireImages.com
Life is said to be about experiences, and that one can only benefit from experiencing both the euphoria of triumph along with the melancholy of tragedy. It is hard to understand this concept if you are one that has never really taken a risk at any point in your life, but it is a truism which applies to all without exception.
Sometimes, although passing up wealth is not something most want to do, it is necessary to accept when there are limitations or liabilities that in the end will damage one more than the worth of money. Case in point: Jose Luis “El Temible” Castillo and his “weight incident.”
In May of 2005, Castillo, a veteran of fifty-nine fights, entered contest number sixty both an
unexplainably underrated and unappreciated lightweight champion. His prior accomplishments of slaying the likes of Stevie Johnston, Cesar Bazan, Juan Lazcano, Joel Casamayor, Julio Diaz, and making Floyd Mayweather, Jr. act like Mrs. Mayweather, Jr. in their rematch after Jose Luis was robbed in their first fight, appeared to go completely unnoticed.
Castillo’s opponent on that night was media darling Diego Corrales, who was seen as a fighter that had redeemed himself since losing horribly to Mayweather, Jr. and coming back from a stint in the joint for domestic abuse.
Corrales was saying all the right things and was heavily backed by most of the boxing media; his stature coming in to the fight was at an all-time high. We all know that what happened next has become a piece of boxing history.
After Castillo failed to make weight for the rubber-match, he was disciplined by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and relegated to inactivity for what is now more than eleven months.
At the time, Jose Luis’ inability to make the lightweight limit seemed to lead to his demise, as promoters, most of the boxing media, the fight community at large, Showtime, and even Diego Corrales himself vilified the brave Mexican, going as far as to call him a coward and a cheat.
Of course, such insolence and disdain was not exhibited a few months later when the media’s superhero, Corrales, failed to make the lightweight limit for the same reasons Castillo cited. Those “excuses” were now acceptable as the same fans and media who seemed determined to destroy “El Temible’s” reputation were now frantically attempting to justify their hero’s transgression.
Other than loyal Castillo fans, there was next to no one calling Corrales a liar, coward, or cheat. The double standard that has plagued Castillo his entire career remained intact.
This experience that “El Temible” received at the hands of the boxing community and media at large could only have reinforced one truth for the Empalme, Sonora, Mexico native: The only way for him to get the big money fights would be to continue to challenge and destroy top-tier opponents.
It is now January of 2007 and Jose Luis Castillo is preparing to make his official entrance to the 140-pound division, as on the twentieth of this month, “El Temible” faces undefeated Herman Ngoudjo in a twelve round WBC light welterweight title eliminator.
It is a dangerous fight in that Castillo has been inactive for almost one year, and prior to his suspension, he was involved in high-profile fights. A letdown, although highly unlikely, is a possibility.
Add in the fact that this fight is supposed to be a tune-up, as Jose Luis is slated to face the “Manchester Mexican” Ricky Hatton later this year, and looking past a young, inexperienced fighter is not out of the question.
Still, because of the experiences he faced this past year, I believe that Castillo understands where he is in the public’s eye and is looking to reestablish himself, meaning that Herman Ngoudjo will probably take a horrible beating that night.
Many, myself included, are wondering how “El Temible” looks after a camp in which the target weight is 140-pounds.
Will the signs of a fighter at the brink of fainting be present because of mass dehydrations, or is the light welterweight limit exactly what the doctor ordered?
Although stamina never seemed to be an issue with Castillo despite his struggles with weight (his former opponents state that Jose Luis gets stronger as the fight progresses), curiosity does strike at the prospect of how a healthier, presumably stronger version of “El Temible” will perform at his new weight class.
Still, the vast public and media continue to dismiss Jose Luis, and no matter what he does, one gets the feeling that Castillo will be a fighter that will be revered in years to come as opposed to for years to come.
Should everything go as planned this January 20, and both Castillo and Hatton, who fight on the same card, are able to get past their opponents, they will meet each other in battle. Considering the styles of both fighters, “El Temible” will, again, be involved in a fight for the ages and at least while it lasts, the public and media will speak of him with adoration.
Of course, as soon after it is over Jose Luis “El Temible” Castillo will again be forgotten. That is until his next bloodbath, as that seems to be the only way he is able to earn respect, even if it is only for a short while.
Such is the life of Jose Luis Castillo.
Contact Sergio Martinez at [email protected]