May 5, 2005. Jose Luis Castillo vs Diego Corrales. Lightweights. 12 rounds. WBC and WBO titles on the line. Lineal championship of the division. Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada.
There wasn't a $100 pay-per-view. The world hadn't waited five years to see it. They weren't the two most popular fighters in the world, nor considered the two best of a generation. Hollywood stars didn't outnumber diehard boxing fans at ringside. There wasn't endless hype. It was a big fight, but not a big fight.
The war between Castillo and Corrales still stands, in the minds of many, as the best fight of this century. There are arguments, of course, but Castillo-Corrales is a fight we go back to again and again. Mayweather-Pacquiao will not be revisited with such excitement and wonder.
Nine rounds of war. Both fighters bloodied, battered, and bruised. Exhausted from the brutality. Then came the 10th round. If there is an argument about the best fight of the century, there may not be much of one about the best round of the century.
Corrales entered the round leading 87-84, 86-85, and 84-87 on the scorecards, but Castillo was ready to make his move. With Corrales dipping down and looking for an opening, Castillo smashed him with a vicious left hook on the button, dropping his opponent and knocking his mouthpiece out. Corrales rose to his feet, still woozy. Referee Tony Weeks took him to his corner, where trainer Joe Goossen tactically bought just enough time to advise his charge, "Get inside on him!"
Corrales did not. Right away, Castillo clipped him with another left hook, and then another. Corrales' knees buckled, but he stayed up for another moment. Another pair of shots put him down once again -- this time, Corrales purposely took his mouthpiece out with his glove. He rose to his feet at the count of nine, and referee Tony Weeks rightly took a point for the removal of the mouthpiece.
Once again, Corrales went to his corner. Goossen, with an almost eerie calmness, looked at Corrales as though he were a vulgar zen master calmly but firmly correcting a pupil's mistakes: "You gotta fuckin' get inside on him now."
Castillo again threw a left hook right away, Corrales ducking this time. With 1:45 left in the round, Corrales suddenly ripped Castillo with a hard right hand that hurt the Mexican warrior. Corrales moved forward, firing away and hurting Castillo with a hook. Both fighters stood their ground and unleashed power shots. Castillo was missing. Corrales was connecting.
With a final flurry, Diego Corrales rocked Jose Luis Castillo's head around. Castillo appeared out on his feet. Tony Weeks jumped in to stop the fight. The crowd went wild.
"The fight is over!" Showtime's Steve Albert shouted. "Corrales with a remarkable, dramatic turnaround to win this fight! Unbelievable!"
Corrales' team mobbed him in the ring, holding him up as the victorious gladiator. A dejected Castillo could only wonder what just happened, and how it happened so quickly.
"These two should never fight each other again," Goossen said afterward. "You would have to be sadistic to want to see this again. It's too much."
The two did fight a rematch five months later at the Thomas & Mack Center, but Castillo missed weight by three and a half pounds. The fight went on anyway, and Castillo got tainted revenge with a fourth round knockout win. A rubber match was set for February 2006, but Corrales postponed with a rib injury. When they got together in June, Castillo once again missed weight, this time by four and a half pounds. This time, the fight was canceled.
Jose Luis Castillo still fights today. He is years removed from being a relevant contender, and at 41 sports a record of 66-13-1 (57 KO). His career, which includes the epic with Corrales and two very close fights with Floyd Mayweather, may unfortunately be remembered for his struggles to make weight, not just against Corrales but in other fights and scheduled fights that had to be scrapped. He was last seen in December 2014, traveling to Moscow for a predictable battering at the hands of Ruslan Provodnikov.
Diego Corrales fought two more times after the Castillo rematch, missing weight and losing to Joel Casamayor in 2006, and then moving up to welterweight for a loss to Joshua Clottey on April 7, 2007. Corrales died one month later. On May 7, 2007, two years to the day after winning the greatest fight of his generation, the fighter was killed in a motorcycle accident in Las Vegas. He was 29 years old.