Corrales dismisses notion of too many hits taking a toll

LAS VEGAS -- Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo have inflicted much violence upon each other since their intense rivalry began 13 months ago.

They hammered on each other for 10 blistering and bloody rounds in May 2005 in what not only was the unanimous fight of the year, but one of the great fights in boxing history.

On that memorable night, Corrales unified lightweight titles by making an improbable comeback from two hard 10th-round knockdowns to stop Castillo moments later.

Five months later, they did it again.

In the October rematch, Castillo (54-7-1, 47 KOs) dominated before knocking Corrales (40-3, 33 KOs) out with a clean left hook to the chin in the fourth round of another vicious and high-contact fight, but one marred because Castillo controversially missed the 135-pound weight limit by 3½ pounds, rendering it a non-title fight.

Now they are set to do battle again in "The War to Settle the Score" Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT) at the Thomas & Mack Center, and few expect anything less than another brutal fight.

But how much is too much for these warriors? While the first two fights took a physical toll on both men, Corrales, despite the first-fight victory, seemed to absorb much more overall punishment than Castillo.

And that was only in the fights, to say nothing of more aches and pains he suffered in training camp, including a rib injury that forced the fight to be postponed from Feb. 4 to Saturday night.

Castillo went on to defeat late substitute Rolando Reyes on a lopsided decision in February, while Corrales allowed his ribs to heal and helped as wife Michelle gave birth to a daughter, Daylia, in March.

Some have suggested that Corrales has taken too much punishment in the two fights with Castillo, and that Corrales should not fight him again, especially for a third time in such a short time frame.

Corrales laughed the suggestion off.

"I feel fine," Corrales said. "If I felt like I was losing a step or two, I would be gone.

"Is Diego getting a little old for the game? I do not know. I have taken a lot of punches over the years. I think time tells. Right now, I am still young and I have been out there with the best of them and I have shown that time and time again," Corrales said.

Corrales did, however, acknowledge that the fights and training camps have taken their toll.

"Having three fights back-to-back against Castillo, I have to say, they were the most grueling camps," he said. "I never trained so hard. I know we will probably beat the crap out of each other in this fight as well."

Castillo promoter Bob Arum, who also promoted Corrales for several years, said he is confident that Corrales is fine to fight.

"Well, I have to rely on his trainer, Joe Goossen," Arum said. "I know Joe very, very well and I know how Joe acted with the Ruelas brothers when it was time for them to hang up the gloves. And I think that if Joe believes that there was any serious danger to Diego, he would not allow him to fight, or at any rate, would not be part of training him for a fight. Joe is an honorable guy and that is what I really base my assessment on."

Goossen, known as a caring and attentive trainer, said he believes the additional time off has helped Corrales.

"Diego got the rest, I believe, that was necessary to go into this third fight against this great fighter,'' Goossen said. "He's well rested, and that is going to make the difference. The attitude in the gym for this third fight is a quantum leap from the attitude going into the second fight. It was hard to get motivated physically and spiritually. Mentally, right now he is very into this fight. He is performing the way I want him to.''

When the fight in February was postponed, the conspiracy theorists -- of which there are many in boxing -- thought it might have been a ploy by Corrales to get extra time to recover from the second fight.

"I do not know if he was really hurt or not hurt. I know injuries happen during training camp," said Castillo, whose own rib inujry before the rematch was the reason he cited for being unable to make weight. "I am very well aware that anyone can get injured when they are getting ready for a fight. Whether he was or not really has no bearing on me. All I know is that [no matter] if he can fight me this week or next week, I was going to wait until I have to fight him, even if I had to wait a year."

Corrales vociferously rejected the notion that he faked his injury to have more time to rest.

"When has anybody ever seen me pull out of a fight? I think my track record speaks for itself," Corrales said. "I do not care what people say or think. Anyone who would say something like that is just a jerk."

Then without being prompted, Corrales again wanted to have his say about the people who think he might have manufactured his rib inury.

"Let me make one thing very, very clear," Corrales said. "Did Diego try to buy time with a rib injury? No. So anybody thinking that is just wrong."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.