The Greatest, Most Shocking Round In Boxing History Fought 15 Years Ago Today
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The 10th round of Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo may be the most stunning, dramatic, controversial and action-packed round in boxing's storied history.
Violent exchanges filled the lightweight unification fight from the start, but its climax in Las Vegas was one no gambler would've bet a dollar on.
Mexico's Castillo broke through first, hammering his opponent to the canvas with a left hook, then following it up with a second knockdown. Corrales, his left eye swollen shut, spat out his gumshield twice in final acts of desperation.
Then came a turnaround so unbelievable Sylvester Stallone would cut it from a Rocky film.
As Castillo went in for the finish, Corrales fired back with a right-hand bomb. The pair swapped blows as the crowd stood and roared but Castillo had exhausted himself and - staggeringly - Corrales now held the momentum, despite looking like a beaten man seconds earlier.
Castillo was soon on the ropes and - as he wilted under a vicious barrage of Corrales power punches - referee Tony Weeks leapt in for a stoppage that had seemed impossible.
"Diego Corrales said he would go through hell before losing this fight! He may have," cried commentator Steve Albert on Showtime.
"Sadistic," was the post-fight verdict of Corrales's victorious trainer Joe Goossen when asked about the clamour for a rematch.
"You could go 20 fights and not get hit as much as each of those guys got hit in one fight," Goossen later explained to BoxingScene.com. "That one fight was like having a dozen fights in one year. It was that brutal of a fight."
The hotly-anticipated 2005 bout between two heavy-handed champions had indeed gone beyond expectations even before the ending. The 10th round took it from 'fight of the year' and into the discussion for greatest fight ever.
Analyst Al Bernstein's instant take on commentary - "The single most extraordinary comeback within a round to win a fight" - has stood the test of time.
But, boxing being boxing, there was a healthy side order of controversy.
Castillo's camp were understandably upset that Corrales twice spitting out his mouthpiece had earned 'Chico' valuable recovery time. Referee Weeks handled the situation well - taking a point from Corrales after he transgressed on the second knockdown.
However, as the Californian only just made it to his feet at the count of nine on that occasion, clearly every second was vital.
Washing and replacing the gumshield also gave Goossen, sporting his trademark loud shirt and slickback hair, time to deliver a quick message to his fighter. His raised eyebrow and: "You gotta f**king get inside on him now" became one of the contest's memorable moments.
Still, even with those crucial extra seconds and Corrales's vaunted punch power, the stoppage seemed beyond unlikely. Castillo - who'd pushed Floyd Mayweather to the limit in two 12-round fights - had a reputation for his rock-solid chin.
But he'd unloaded all his ammunition gunning Corrales to the canvas twice and, when the Mexican's legs dipped on that big right hand, suddenly the momentum was only going one way.
Despite the misgivings of Goosen and others over how much punishment both men had taken, a rematch was made only five months after the first contest, in October 2005.
This time, controversy came before the fight rather than during it. Castillo failed to make the 135lb weight limit beforehand, rendering it a non-title bout.
The pair picked up where they left off, trading spectacularly for three rounds before Castillo knocked Corrales down in the fourth with another hard left hook. This time 'Chico' couldn't quite beat the 10 count.
A deciding third fight was scheduled in 2006 but, when Castillo once again failed to make weight, Corrales and his team decided not to go through with the contest this time around.
The pair's remarkable first fight would in fact prove to be the last win of Corrales's career.
The boxer, who had a troubled personal life, was killed in a motorcycle accident in Las Vegas at 29 years old on 7 May 2007. It was exactly two years to the day since the greatest triumph of his career.
Castillo boxed on, losing to Ricky Hatton in July 2007. But he was clearly never quite the same fighter as he was before that first fight against Corrales, when nine savage rounds were followed by two unforgettable minutes as the lightweight duo produced a heavyweight contender for the most amazing finish in boxing history.
All imagery: Showtime