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Casamayor had a great run

I spend time every week, usually on Sunday night or Monday morning, updating ESPN.com's weekly divisional rankings.

There were quite a few updates to make this week -- especially taking into account the results from Golden Boy's big Saturday card that was headlined by Juan Manuel Marquez's lopsided decision against Juan Diaz in their lightweight championship rematch at Mandalay Bay (where, as Don King likes to say, the flying fishes play) in Las Vegas.

I dropped Diaz from fourth out of the rankings because he's now 2-4 in his last six fights (and should be 1-5, but got a gift in his first fight against Paulie Malignaggi at junior welterweight). Although the one legit win during the poor stretch came against current No. 2 Michael Katsidis, it's clear that Diaz has slowed considerably and is not the fighter he was even two years ago.

I also dropped Joel Casamayor, who had been ranked sixth. But after he fought for the second time in a row outside the 135-pound weight class and looked bad losing a lopsided decision to Robert Guerrero -- Casamayor's second defeat in three fights -- I had no choice but to drop him.

Then it dawned on me: After compiling divisional boxing rankings since April 2000 -- first on a monthly basis for five years for USA Today, and now weekly for ESPN.com -- this was the first time in more than a decade that I had compiled a set of rankings in which Casamayor did not appear.

It made me think about his career, which has been a great one. We should all appreciate what he has done. He won a 1992 Olympic gold medal (and probably would have won another in 1996 had he not defected from Cuba) and world titles at junior lightweight and lightweight. At lightweight, he was also the lineal champion.

But Casamayor is 39 now. His legs are gone, his reflexes are not what they were and he did not handle fighting at heavier weights in his last two fights (welterweight and junior welterweight) very well. In a welterweight bout last fall, he looked shaky in an eight-round decision against journeyman Jason Davis. He looked way worse against Guerrero.

Casamayor still has his guile, experience and the nasty chip on his shoulder that made him the best of all the Cuban defectors of the modern era. But it wasn't enough against a young and hungry Guerrero.

Age catches up to all fighters, especially a guy like Casamayor, who had around 400 amateur fights. When Guerrero rocked him at one point late in the fight, and it was clear that he was going to lose badly, I wondered to myself, How many times do you suppose Casamayor has been hit in the face in his life?

It's got to be thousands upon thousands. That catches up to you.

With the loss to Guerrero, who is 12 years younger, Casamayor (37-5-1, 22 KOs) is finished as a top fighter. But he probably won't retire. He's a fighter -- that's what he does. Besides, he has tax problems and child-support issues, which is, unfortunately, par for the course for too many fighters.

But whatever Casamayor does next should not reflect negatively on what he already has accomplished. He was a master technician, knew every trick in the book and faced a high level of competition throughout his pro career, which began in late 1996.

Although he lost debatable decisions to prime Acelino "Popo" Freitas in a 130-pound unification fight and a split decision to Jose Luis Castillo in a 135-pound championship fight, Casamayor beat such foes as Roberto Garcia, a prime Nate Campbell and Katsidis -- a knockout in 2008 for his last big win. Facing Marquez in late 2008, Casamayor was highly competitive before being stopped in the 11th round and losing the lightweight championship.

But Casamayor will always be best known for his trilogy with the late Diego "Chico" Corrales. He won the series 2-1, including a sixth-round TKO in their epic first battle in 2004. Casamayor dropped a split decision in the 2004 rematch and won a split nod in the third fight in 2006.

When I think of Casamayor, I won't think of the old man with diminished skills who faced Guerrero (and still scored a knockdown in the final 90 seconds of the fight in what amounted to a last hurrah) the other night.

No, I'll think of the prime Casamayor who was on the pound-for-pound list and near the top of the sport for a decade.

And then I'll think about how I'll be happy to cast my ballot for him when he becomes eligible for the International Boxing Hall of Fame.