Former lightweight world champion Jose Luis Castillo found the going very rough last night in Arlington, Texas, quitting after five rounds of one-sided action against welterweight fringe contender Alfonso Gomez.
After the fight, the 36-year-old "El Temible" announced his retirement from boxing, and offered an apology. From the Associated Press:
"I just found out tonight I don't have it anymore," Castillo said. "I want to apologize to the public and I am definitely announcing my retirement."
Castillo, who had basically been forced up in weight over the years to get to the welterweight division, looked old, slow, powerless and completely ineffective against Gomez, who has now coincidentally retired two major action stars of the era. Gomez also knocked out the late Arturo Gatti in Gatti's final bout, back in 2007.
It's been about three years since Castillo (60-10-1, 52 KO) won a meaningful fight, against Herman Ngoudjo in Las Vegas. That fight was meant to set up a battle between then-junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton, which it did, but the red flags went off in a big way. Castillo struggled mightily with the young, unsung Ngoudjo, barely escaping with a split decision victory.
The Ngoudjo fight came after Castillo failed to make weight for the second time when set to face Diego "Chico" Corrales, the greatest rival of his career. Castillo did fight Hatton in the summer of 2007, and was knocked out by a body shot in the fourth round.
It was as obvious in 2007 as it was last night that we weren't ever going to see the "real" Jose Luis Castillo again. Tons of miles, plenty of damage, a lot of ring wars, and maybe even some psychological effects had taken their toll. It was cemented for everyone when he couldn't make 140 pounds to fight Timothy Bradley, moving up to 147 and facing Sebastian Lujan on a July 2008 edition of ESPN2's Friday Night Fights. Lujan, a fringe contender like Gomez, dominated the veteran ex-champion.
It was thought then that Castillo would retire, but for many reasons, he fought on. He built up a comeback last year, winning four fights against sub-par competition, and was then given a chance to get back in the game against Gomez.
No dice. On the big stage at Cowboys Stadium, Castillo looked every bit like a 200% shot fighter. As the HBO commentary team remarked during the fight, it was one of those times where you could see a fighter's gears turn. Castillo seemed to notice the openings that Gomez gave him, seemed like he wanted to pull the trigger offensively, and then just could not. Gomez didn't give out the beating to Castillo that he did to Gatti, but Castillo was really never in the fight, physically or mentally.
I hope Castillo is in a place financially where this retirement can stick, because it's obvious that he's just worn out. His late-career struggles will never erase his first fight with Corrales, which was the greatest fight of the last decade and one of the very best of all time, nor will it damage what he did when he was in his prime. Castillo fought them all -- Corrales, Joel Casamayor, and Stevie Johnston, to name just three. And let's not forget that Castillo is the only man, really, for whom anyone will argue a deserved win over Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Best of luck to Jose Luis Castillo, and may the old boxing sins be forgiven, and we remember him for what he was when he was his best: one hell of a good fighter.