THEIR FIRST fight was a revelation, a reminder of how good boxing can be. Their second? Not so much. Instead of building upon the heroics of Diego Corrales's remarkable victory five months ago, the rematch with fellow warrior José Luis Castillo revisited the typically sordid behavior of boxing. Crooked camps, name-calling, failure to live up to a contract. This, alas, is more like it.
Not that anybody dreamed, or even hoped, to see so brutal a war as their original. It would be unfair to expect such sustained ferocity from two men, especially now that they recognized the consequences of their heroism. Each was a fleshy ruin after his lightweight title fight, especially the rangy Corrales, who was decked twice in the 10th round before rallying, impossibly, to knock Castillo out. That kind of action was nearly too dangerous to enjoy. Certainly it was too risky to repeat.
Even if it featured some of the same toe-to-toe fighting of the first, last Saturday's rematch in Las Vegas was largely a disappointment. Castillo's fourth-round knockout of Corrales was satisfying in that it fairly evened their series and most definitely set the stage for a trilogy. The circumstances that attended it, though, drained almost all the excitement from the event and made one wary of yet another rematch.
Castillo could not make the 135-pound weight the day before the fight. This was maddening, of course, requiring more negotiating to even allow the fight to proceed. It was agreed that he would be fined, that he would have to weigh no more than 147 pounds the afternoon of the fight and that no belts would be at stake. But what kind of warrior would neglect this simplest of tasks, the one that ensures fairness? The kind whose cornerman would try to affect the scale with a toe, apparently. That outrage does not belong to the fighter alone (the cornerman was suspended), but it helped poison the event.
Had Corrales gone on to win the fight, the shenanigans might have been forgotten. But now it was necessary to calculate the effect of Corrales's sweating his weight off, compared with Castillo's not bothering. Did that amount to an unfair knockout? Who knows? The math won't be fully worked out until the inevitable third fight, although not everyone will be anticipating the solution this time.