LAS VEGAS — Saturday night's eagerly awaited lightweight fight between Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales turned out to be a spectacle. So did just about everything that led up to it.
Any description of this fight, and of all that surrounded it, required no skill in fiction writing. You can't make this stuff up. Only in boxing ...
By the time Castillo had connected with a devastating left hook to put Corrales down and out 47 seconds into the fourth round, before a wild crowd that came close to filling all 17,000 seats in the Thomas & Mack Center, there were more angles than a Frank Lloyd Wright building.
There had been:
* The weigh-in, on the street right in front of Caesars Palace on Friday, where one of Castillo's handlers, fearful that his boxer would not make the required 135 pounds for this to be an official title fight, slid his foot under the scale.
* The banishment of the scale slime-ball by Nevada boxing officials. Eventually, Castillo didn't make weight despite two more chances, where he weighed more each time, meaning the much-hyped rematch of the May 7 classic had to be downgraded from title fight to plain-old-ordinary fight.
* The Saturday night rumor that had an agreement being reached among promoters, TV types and the fighters' camps in which half of the titles would be at stake. Corrales held both the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization titles as a result of his incredible 10th-round comeback in their battle five months ago. The rumor, which made its way onto various Internet sites, was exactly that. A rumor. Corrales lost the fight, but kept his titles.
* The controversial undercard fight, in which Bobby Pacquiao beat Carlos Hernandez in a split decision of a 10-round super featherweight match. Nearly every writer on press row had Hernandez winning easily, some nine rounds to one, and Pacquiao's trainer, Freddy Roach, told the press afterward, "Hernandez won the fight. He outhustled us."
* The overwhelmed rookie, Jeremy Stiers, who bounced to the middle of the ring to start his undercard fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and quickly had to call timeout because he had forgotten his mouthpiece.
* The strange title defense, where flyweight boxer Jorge Arce beat Hussein Hussein in the semi-main 12-rounder and, by winning, retained his title of \o7interim\f7 WBC champion. There is a real champion, healthy and active in that division, but the WBC seems to need two.
* Finally, the post-weigh-in weigh-in. Castillo and Corrales, fighting for the 135-pound title, were re-weighed Saturday afternoon. Corrales, who had weighed 135 Friday, weighed 149. Castillo, who had been about two or three pounds above the required 135 on his three tries Friday, weighed 147. So, in truth, since this is fairly normal in boxing, the 135-pound titles are really 145 and the 145 titles are really 156, and so on.
Only in boxing ...
Close observation seems to indicate that they are making it up as they go along.
This is, after all, the sport that has, as one of its elder statesmen, a man who appears to have his hair styled daily by a live electrical socket. Several years ago, Don King visited a group of sports writers and editors for lunch at The Times, and, when asked about a phony-looking ruckus at one of his news conferences, smiled and said, "It's all BS. You guys know that."
Yes, it is, Don, but it really doesn't matter. What happened here this weekend did not affect world peace, unless that is now tied to the economy of Las Vegas. There is no expectation of wholesome, build-some-character and teach-sportsmanship values. It is boxing, where Don King can thrive and crow to anybody who will listen: "Isn't America great?"
Castillo caught Corrales with a huge hook, the crowd loved it, the people at Showtime cable network got a great show for their audience, and somewhere, in some back room near the Strip, promoters Gary Shaw (Corrales) and Bob Arum (Castillo) will soon be figuring out how they can do it again.
There will be another spectacle, at another flashy Las Vegas site, and many millions of dollars will change hands. There will be pre-fight controversy, and more twists and turns than a gymnastics routine. People will be conned by the hype, overcharged for the tickets, caught up in all the noise and bright lights. They will love every minute of it.
And somewhere, even if he isn't directly involved, Don King will be smiling.
Only in boxing ...