Former junior-lightweight champ Joel "El Cepillo" Casamayor will return to the ring tonight against Lamont Pearson on ESPN's Friday Night Fights. Whether you remember Casamayor from his gold medal run at the 92 Olympics, from his two wars with Diego Corrales, or from his controversial losses to Jose Luis Castillo and Acelino Freitas, the fact is that the man has made a mark in the sport, and he's been a force to be reckoned with even before he ever made his pro debut.
El Cepillo has a terrific professional record of 32-3-1, and all three of those losses were against elite-level oppostion (Corrales, Castillo and Freitas). Not only that, all three of the losses were debatable. Nonetheless, after the split-decision loss to Castillo and a draw with up-and-coming prospect Kid Diamond, many people began to write Casamayor off, and many boxing writers dropped him from their Pound-for-Pound rankings. Although we haven't heard much from him since, Casamayor is coming off a KO win and is poised to make another run at a 135-pound title.
Meanwhile, none other than Diego Corrales will be the in-studio guest analyst for the FNF telecast. Because Corrales and Casamayor still have some unfinished business to take care of, I can't help but think that if El Cepillo looks impressive in this fight, a Corrales-Casamayor rubbermatch might come soon thereafter. The fact is, over a month has passed since the JL Castillo debacle, and Corrales is yet to solidify and opponent for his next fight. With Juan Diaz set to fight in the Vargas-Mosley undercard, the two biggest fights for Corrales right now would be either Acelino Freitas (to whom Diego gave his only loss, in what was a close fight) or a third fight with Casamayor.
The question is: at 34 years of age, and after a rather successful career, how much does Casamayor have left in the tank? Though he won't be facing a Freitas or a Corrales tonight, Pearson is a pretty slick boxer who could prove to be a challenge. For the sake of boxing, I hope Casamayor wins impressively, showing sparks of his old self, so that we can be treated to a rubbermatch with Corrales.