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Corrales and Casamayor all smiles before their grudge match

March 6, 2004: By Alex Pierpaoli (Photo : Alex Pierpaoli)

On Thursday, Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, CT. hosted the final press conference before the highly anticipated rematch of the world’s top two fighters at 130 pounds. Power-puncher, Diego Corrales, lost the first encounter with, Cuban southpaw, Joel Casamayor, by 6th round TKO back in October when this duo of junior lightweights rumbled in one of the very best bouts of 2003. The pairing of a slick boxer versus a devastating puncher has traditionally made for some of the most thrilling and electrically charged match-ups in the sport and fireworks are all but guaranteed in Saturday night’s Championship sequel.

Promoter Cedric Kushner got Thursday’s press conference started and introduced the principals and trainers for the Showtime Card featuring “four strong undercard bouts and two world championships between great fighters.” Kushner went on to reference last week’s Morales-Chavez fight, for another portion of the 130 pound title on another cable network, and how that network’s commentators chattered on about Corrales and Casamayor, in obvious appreciation of both men and their position at the top of the division.

Joe Goosen, Diego Corrales’ chief second for the rematch, was the first to address the media once Kushner began introducing those involved with his Main Event. In a peculiar shift, Goosen, who had trained Casamayor in his career-defining victory over Corrales back in October, was abruptly replaced as trainer for the rematch by Team Casamayor.

“It was a very bizarre twist,” Goosen described. “But I hold no animosity for anyone…as fate would have it, I’m with Diego Corrales right now.”

When it was time for Casamayor’s trainer to speak, former junior welter, and welterweight champion, James “Buddy” McGirt strutted to the microphone in a pair of shades with an unlit cigar in hand.

“Are you ready for a bizarre ass story?” McGirt began.

He went on to describe the events which led up to his appearance here on this card working with Team Casamayor when it was Team Corrales that first approached him to work as Corrales’ trainer for the rematch. Contractual obligations and promotional ties prevented McGirt from working with Diego Corrales and when Casamayor’s promoter Luis DeCubas called McGirt the following day, the two met and discussed plans to work with Casamayor.

Both McGirt and Goosen minimized the impact the switch in trainers would cause on Saturday night and McGirt went on to say he was glad no name-calling or mud-slinging had resulted.

“There’s no bad blood…No bad things said—which is unheard of…” McGirt explained.

As a testament to McGirt’s observation both combatants smiled at each other and even embraced laughingly in a gesture of good sportsmanship. Later, this writer asked Diego Corrales if all the hugging and giggling goes out the window come Saturday night. Corrales smiled.

“He knows I am somebody to be reckoned with…he knows he has to respect me and he doesn’t want to get me mad and give me any incentive.” Corrales’ easy smile and friendly demeanor belie the bone-crunching power he carries in both hands, but all that power won’t matter if he can’t get Casamayor to settle down and bang with him.

“Confidence level is high…” Corrales said. “He’s gonna have to fight me.”

With Joe Goosen on his side, Corrales might now learn some of the tricks Casamayor used to beat him in the first fight, but Casamayor’s new trainer thinks otherwise.

“The key word is might,” McGirt smiled. “He (Corrales) may see something but it’s like a mirage, it’s there a second and gone.” McGirt is confident his charge can out fox Corrales in a bout that is far more strategy than slug-fest. “If Diego falls for something, we might not get him just then but we’ll get him the next time.”

Showtime’s undercard bout pits WBO super flyweight champion Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson against the undefeated Columbian prospect, Luis Bolano. In this 115 pound co-feature, Johnson faces the number one contender in the first defense of the title he won from Fernando Montiel in August just up the road from here at Mohegan Sun. Johnson and his trainer, father Ham Johnson, expect Saturday’s bout to be like most of the others in the father-son team’s career: difficult. But the Johnson’s are ready for any kind of hardship.

When it was his turn to speak, Luis Bolano thanked his promoter in absentia, Don King, and Foxwoods Casino for the opportunity to fight for a title. Though little is known about Bolano’s fighting style—he has rarely fought outside his native Columbia—his record is an exceptional one at 38-0 with 28 knockouts. If Bolano is anything like King’s recent Latin American discovery, Ricardo Mayorga, the aging Too-Sharp Johnson will have his hands full.

Alex Pierpaoli has been obsessed with the Sweet Science for the past 18 years and is both a fan and a writer. He has a degree in English from the University of Maine. Send comments or questions to:
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