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Movin' On Up: Corrales takes a crack at welterweight against Clottey

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.
After years of wars, Corrales moves to welterweight to further his career.
When was the last time Diego Corrales fought a lackluster opponent? That would be June 20, 2003, when Chico took on Detroit-based fighter Damian Fuller in what would turn out to be Fuller's last significant fight, a third-round Corrales knockout that that finished up a four-fight raging comeback of battered opponents following Corrales' overwhelmingly lopsided loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., in 2001.

Since then, how about this for a schedule: Joel Casamayor, Casamayor again, Popo Freitas, Jose Luis Castillo, Castillo again, and, finally, a third fight with Casamayor last October, a fight for which Corrales failed to make the 135-pound weight limit, the same thing that had aborted his scheduled third showdown with Castillo months prior -- only that time, it was Castillo that showed up heavy. Again.

The Corrales/Castillo rivalry will really be best remembered for what it wasn't. The first fight was an instant classic, a barnburner that demanded a rematch following Corrales' 10th round TKO of his opponent. Castillo showed up three-and-a-half pounds overweight for the second affair, which he won by fourth round knockout. The third fight didn't even happen.

Corrales/Casamayor is the real rivalry of Corrales' career. The two pounded each other in October of 2003, the fight ended after six rounds due to cuts inside Chico's mouth. Casamayor had been down once, and Corrales twice. Corrales took the rematch via split decision. Two-and-a-half years later, Casamayor comes back to beat an out of shape Corrales, another split decision.

After his second straight defeat, Corrales found himself a 29-year old former champion that could no longer force his body to make weight at 135. He has said that before the Casamayor fight, he was basically starving himself for two weeks and failing to get below 142 pounds, weighing in officially at 139. He paid for it with an instant vacancy of his WBC title, which Casamayor went ahead and took from him, anyway.

Where was he to go? He pondered a step up to 140 (where he could have joined Castillo), but doctors advised him to go heavier. This Saturday, we see the debut of Chico Corrales as a welterweight, hopefully fit and ready to fight at 147 pounds.

It adds a wrinkle not only to Corrales' legacy and his career, but to the welterweight division should Corrales be successful in the move up. This is, after all, the division of Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Zab Judah, Kermit Cintron, Paul Williams, Carlos Baldomir, Carlos Quintana, Arturo Gatti (the possibility of Corrales/Gatti has been unfortunately shot down), boxing's most ferocious and exciting prospect in Andre Berto, and countless other quality fighters, many of whom could make for a seriously fun matchup with the action-hungry Corrales.

Make no mistake, though: Corrales is a fighter who has lost his last two fights, who has been in wars that probably make him older than 29, this is a big career move, and the difference between 135 and 147 is pretty substantial. Plus, Chico being Chico, he didn't pick a bum for his debut in his new division. He took Joshua Clottey, a 30-2 fighter that gave Antonio Margarito a battle in December with an injured hand, and before that hadn't lost in seven years, when he lost controversially to Baldomir, then nothing more than a rugged veteran.

Clottey is not a pretty fighter. He's a scrapper, and he can get a little dirty inside. For a guy nicknamed "The Hitter," his power isn't what you'd expect -- his last three fights have all gone the distance (Margarito, Richard Gutierrez, Marcos Primera). And despite the fact that he turned pro in 1995 and has 30 wins, he's still lacking the big one that can really put him on the map. Many thought Margarito might have wound up being Clottey's final shot at a major fight, but he's been blessed with a chance at beating Diego Corrales in a main event on Showtime.

The welterweight division is packed. For Corrales, a third straight loss could be devastating to his career, and could end his bid for welterweight gold before it ever really starts. For Clottey, this could be it -- this could be the last chance he gets to make his name. Neither guy has the most time left to recover from a loss.

Frankly, neither man can afford to leave Springfield, MO, sporting another notch in the L column. This is must-win, for both Corrales and Clottey.

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