Remembering Chico

Diego Corrales was a populist fighter.  He gave the people what they wanted and left them entertained. And the biggest shame in all of this is that I have to say was.  That fateful crash in the Arizona desert robbed a son from his parents, a brother from his brothers, a husband from his wife, a father from his children and a legend from us all. Corrales never disappointed in the ring, from his trademark wiggle during introductions, to his crowd pleasing, power-punching style, to his highly-publicized clashes with Joel Casamayor and Jose Luis Castillo. Casting aside the weigh-in malfunctions in the Castillo fights, the 14 rounds they shared in the ring were some of the most memorable rounds of 2005, if not the decade so far. When Corrales said he would have to walk through hell to beat Castillo, it wasn’t just pre-fight jibe.  He fought his way through all seven of Dante’s levels and had enough gas to crush Castillo’s hopes with a monstrous left hook that sent him into queer street. The scene in the tenth round of their first bout was almost too magical to seem real.  After nine grueling rounds, less than two inches of air between the fighters at all times, rib-cracking left hooks painting their sides red, Castillo triumphed.  He put the man down. Corrales, on wobbly legs, headed back in to the fray only to find himself on the seat of his pants again, his mouthpiece lying on the ground next to him. As he waltzed to his corner for reinsertion, the flamboyantly dressed Joe Goossen uttered a few memorable, if not blunt words to incite his fighter.  “You better f***ing do something now.” Whether it was the words that did it or just fighter’s instinct, Corrales’ comeback knock out victory thrilled.  It thrilled everyone in the house, it thrilled Jim Lampley, it thrilled everyone at home and in the boxing media and it made me forever respect Chico as a fighter and a champion. Forget about the fact that his last three fights were losses, this guy still leaves the sport a king in my eyes. Who could forget a man that could smile beneath blackened eyes, busted lips and blood-soaked cheeks?