It is times like these, during the Jose Luis Castillo-Joel Casamayor
conference call to hype their matchup Saturday in Las Vegas, that I
seriously wish I were not uni-lingual. One of these days, I swear, I'll
learn enough Spanish to recognize phrases like "trained hard" and "going to
be a great fight."
Castillo (50-6, 45 knockouts), the former sparring partner for Julio Cesar
Chavez who is looking to reach the plateau shared by countrymen Marco
Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, will meet the super-slick Cuban, Joel
Casamayor (31-2, 19 knockouts), at Mandalay Bay on Saturday, with
Showtime televising the fight.
Castillo, who turns 31 on Dec. 12, holds the WBC lightweight title. He meets Casamayor, 33, the Cuban dancer, who comes
off a bout with Daniel Seda on July 3.
The theme of the call emerged as weight, Casamayor's bump north and
Castillo's propensity to drift toward super welter territory. The Mexican
is known as a man unafraid to eat and drink in portions unfit for a jockey,
and has been as high as 150 pounds (against Juan Macias in Jan. 2002) in his
14 years as a pro.
"I don't think it will be a factor," Castillo said through translation. "I'm
heavier in fights that I'm not really training for. (135) is a good weight
for me. I come ready to win. It's going to be a great fight."
Casamayor shrugged off that angle as well.
"I know my body better than anyone," he said through translation. "It's like the old days. There was no
junior lightweight; guys were 135 to 147 pounds."
Weighing five pounds more than he did against Diego Corrales in October 2003 and March of this year will
not slow him down, the Cuban said. "You've got to remember, speed kills, don't forget that."
Neither fighter wanted to go out on a limb to predict an outcome. Castillo
said he could see the bout going 12, and thinks he might have trouble with
the tricky Cuban mover for the "three or four rounds, then I'll be OK."
Casamayor said he would dictate the pace and flow of the bout, but would
take the KO if it came to him.
The controversial nature of Casamayor's two losses (Corrales in March,
Acelino Freitas Jan. '02) were referred to, and Castillo commented:
"Casamayor has said everyone is against him, but this fight (is promoted by
Top Rank) and he's with Top Rank and it's on Showtime and Casamayor is the
No trash talk ever erupted in the course of the call. Castillo had
opportunity to bust Casamayor's bubbles when asked to comment on Freitas'
assessment of the Cuban as a dirty fighter.
"I haven't seen him be dirty," Castillo said. "There was a headbutt versus Corrales, but that's normal when
a lefty fights a righty. I'll say after if he's dirty."
Casamayor lauded Castillo for taking this fight.
"At 130, no one wanted to fight. He's a warrior and won't turn down anyone. Corrales and Freitas are afraid.
Castillo's not. I admire him for that."
The award for lamest answer of the call goes to Casamayor, when asked about
his pedestrian performance against Seda.
"No excuses," he began, before launching into a litany of excuses. "It was short camp and I had a root
canal 10 days before the fight, but I didn't want to pull out. It's a
different ballgame here. Great fighters rise to the occasion."
And should Casamayor beat Castillo, the Mexican's mention that he is
"looking forward to the big one with Kostya Tszyu" will surely be cited in a
postmortem. Castillo also shot down a potential waltz with Erik Morales.
"If Morales goes to 135 we would not ever fight," he said. "We're both with Top
Rank and friends. When I move to 140 he can fight for my title."
My take: Styles will make for an interesting, viewer-friendly fight. I see
the Cuban in big-fight mode and giving the Mexican a lesson in technical
Prediction: Casamayor, UD 12.