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Corrales evens score with Casamayor; Goosen vindicated & Too-Sharp Johnson's shock-and-awe victory
March 8, 2004: By Alex Pierpaoli (Photo © Brendon Pierpaoli)

Pay back never really seems to bring any sort of balance to those who seek it, at least in boxing it doesn’t. Most rematches that result in victory for the man who lost bout one serve as little more than a launching pad for controversy and a final, score-settling rubber match.

On Saturday night at Foxwoods Casino, Diego “Chico” Corrales redeemed himself after the technical knockout loss to Joel Casamayor last October, with a close split-decision victory that re-ignited Corrales’ career and added fuel to boxing’s latest explosive rivalry.
Judges Julie Lederman and Don O’Neill both scored the bout 115-112 for Corrales, while Judge Steve Weisfeld had it 114-113 for Casamayor. Despite rallying to score a knockdown in round ten, Casamayor was unable to recover from a slow start that saw him coasting and throwing far fewer punches than expected in the first half of the fight.

All Diego Corrales had wanted back in October was three more minutes and a final chance to separate Joel Casamayor from his senses before the wounds to his face, and most of all to the inside of Corrales’ mouth, forced Las Vegas’ ringside physician Dr. Margaret Goodman to recommend a halt to the bout. When a fighter hits as hard as Diego Corrales; one more round, one more minute, even one fraction of a second is enough to launch an opponent into unconsciousness with one well placed bomb. But Corrales’ flesh failed him on that important night, when his courage still hadn’t and his fists had yet to produce the desired effect on his opponent. The stream of blood flowing down his throat was too much for Dr. Goodman to permit to continue and so Diego Corrales was left with his second knockout loss in as many professional-super fights, his first of which was his devastating loss to Floyd Mayweather in January of 2001.

But opportunity comes in peculiar forms and when Team Casamayor split with longtime trainer Joe Goosen, Corrales’ people saw it as a chance to install the man who just orchestrated the plan to beat them as the new chief second for Diego Corrales. Would the switch in corners provide any sort of advantage for Corrales? Opinions were varied and widely disputed but only the fight would reveal the answer.

Corrales was first to the ring on Saturday night, and Goosen was talking into his ear along the way, feeding him last minute instructions, building his confidence and helping him to focus on their strategy. Casamayor entered soon after, dancing toward the ring to the pulsing frenzy of his ring walk music. The Cuban defector had been dancing here since Thursday, little pelvic thrusts and swaying hips; his confidence level supreme, at times bordering on arrogance.

Once inside the ring Casamayor danced in front of Goosen and Corrales, egging them on and trying to get under their skin as Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced the ringside officials.

When the bell sounded to start round one, Casamayor was up and moving on his bicycle; staying just out of range of Corrales and darting in behind crisp shots which stung the six foot, lanky slugger. Casamayor was far less willing to engage Corrales in this first round than he was in October and so far all it seemed McGirt had brought to Casamayor was movement.

In the second, it was already clear that Corrales was fighting at a more controlled and patient rate, working behind a jab and staying with the quick-footed Casamayor, preventing him from mounting the offensive bursts that stymied Corrales in fight one.

Round three saw Corrales with his right hand held high, something new to the oft-times face-first slugger, and an adjustment made by Joe Goosen which had already helped prevent Casamayor from landing those lead left-hand power-blasts which scored him two knockdowns over Chico in October. With Corrales’ guard up high, Casamayor goes low and digs into Corrales cup, perhaps hoping to bring Chico’s elbows down to expose his chin. Ref. Steve Smoger cautions Casamayor for low blows and Corrales continues working the jab, creating punching opportunities for himself.

In the fifth they bang in close for a few seconds and Corrales scores with a huge left hook that Casamayor shakes off showing his impressive chin. Corrales is pressing the action, landing jab after jab; some that are sharp and stinging and others that are pesky range-finding jabs which open Casamayor up to follow up punches with either hand, something Corrales was unable to land in fight one.

The difference in the fight is the jab. All of Corrales’ punching opportunities were coming behind the jab—even when it was not a powerful jab that started the action.

In round eight Casamayor comes right out and meets Corrales in center ring. There has been a shift and it is now Casamayor who is stalking Corrales, probably urged on by Buddy McGirt who must be concerned the fight is slipping from Team Casamayor’s grasp.

When Casamayor connects with a hard lead left in the tenth round Corrales goes down hard and for a moment it looks as though Goosen’s plan will slip away in a firefight. But Corrales stays focused, rises and nods to his corner, clearing his head before Ref. Smoger allows the fight to continue. Corrales fights the rest of the tenth in a retreat, with Casamayor pursuing him unable to capitalize on the knockdown.

When the decision is read Casamayor tries to leave the ring in disgust but is stopped by his handlers. Corrales is exuberant and emotional; careful boxing, a jab and loads and loads of patience have done the job.

This writer didn’t feel the fight was close until the later rounds when Casamayor started to settle down and fight rather than staying away on his bicycle. But it seemed as though Corrales was consistently busier and more effective. My scorecard read 115-112 for Chico Corrales, however there was at least two rounds that were exceptionally close, rounds six and nine.

At the post fight press conference later, Promoter Gary Shaw praised Joe Goosen for his work with Chico Corrales and described the locker room before the fight. Goosen didn’t work the mitts with Corrales or make him fire off endless combinations preparing for the real thing. Shaw described Goosen as treating the psychology of his charge, Corrales, talking him past any anxiety and keeping him focused on strategy.

&I was impressed by that,” Shaw told Goosen and the assembled. “I’ve got a lot of respect for you.”

When Goosen spoke he thanked Team Corrales for the chance to work with them and thanked Corrales for his 100% effort in camp.

&He put his trust in me and I really appreciated that,” Goosen said. 𠇍iego came to my gym and he worked hard.”

The hard work and focus paid off…for now at least. With talk of a third match between these two it is likely both camps will be back in the gym soon figuring out a strategy that will give them their second win in what is likely to become boxing’s latest trilogy of fights.

2-Sharp vs. Bolano

In the Showtime televised undercard, Mark Too-Sharp Johnson defended the WBO Junior Bantamweight title he won this past August, over number one contender, Luis Bolano of Columbia.

Bolano is first into the ring, and the championship belt he came here from so far away to win is carried into the ring by Johnson’s handlers a moment later. Johnson’s music for his ring entrance plays on long after both men reach the ring and Too-Sharp pumps up and down on his old knees, stabbing the air in front of him with short jabs and hooks.

When round one begins it is immediately apparent that Bolano is far more controlled in terms of style than this writer expected. Though both men are southpaws, it is Johnson who is able to get his fists through Bolano’s defense as well as make the Columbian miss when he tries to retaliate. By the end of the first—the only close round of Too-Sharp’s title defense—it is clear that Too-Sharp is a lot younger than he’s given credit for. Like Bernard Hopkins and James Toney, Johnson is masterful at using the clever defensive subtleties of the fight game; the roll of the shoulder, covering up with guard held high or sliding just barely out of range of his opponents punches before they can land.

By the middle of the third Johnson is putting on a boxing clinic. He slides his head out of the way of Bolano’s punches with ease and cracks the Columbian with quick-fists from awkward angles. As Bolano moves forward Johnson is able to catch him repeatedly with a quick right hook and by round’s end some swelling is visible under the left eye of Bolano.

In the fourth Johnson floors the previously unbeaten Bolano with a lightning right hook that he never saw coming. Bolano climbs to his feet with a sleight grin on his face, perhaps a blend of shame and surprise as the knockdown is reportedly his first ever as an amateur or pro. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. allows the bout to continue and Johnson comes in to finish his opponent.

Rushing forward, Johnson sees the chance to look sensational and he arcs a bolo-style right uppercut into the mid-section of Bolano, and seconds later another bolo punch to the heart of Bolano puts him down, gasping and obviously hurt, with the air knocked form his lungs. Referee Mercante halts the bout without finishing the count and Too-Sharp gets his first successful defense of the WBO title.

With the victory Mark Johnson may find himself once again on the P4P lists of many boxing writers, so dominate and impressive was this victory. Surely, a unification bout with co-champ Luis Perez can and should be made in order to determine who the very best is at 115 pounds.

Johnson’s victory over Bolano puts Perez on official notice that he is not the only one in the division who can claim supremacy.


Nigerian heavyweight, Samuel Peter, now fighting out of Las Vegas, started the night of fistic action with his clash with Jose DaSilva, also of Las Vegas. Both men exchanged heavy punches but it was the undefeated Peter who was getting the better of the exchanges and looked to be landing the heavier blows.

In round two, Peter crunched a left hook into the side of DaSilva who was clearly hurt. Sensing the opportunity for a knockout, Peter swarmed DaSilva who was rescued by Ref. Dan Chiavone at 2:20 of the second. Samuel Peter’s record climbs to 18-0 with 17 KO’s while Jose DaSilva falls to 25-6 with 19 kayos.

Heavyweights Ray Austin and Willie Williams put on a competitive and entertaining contest which ended abruptly in round five. Austin, who is an impressive 6 foot 6 and weighs 250 pounds, pressed the action behind a jab from the start of the fight. Lots of telegraphed punches were thrown by both big men but it was Austin scoring with more authority, especially with overhand rights that produced a swelling mass just over the left eye of Williams. By the end of the fourth both men are exchanging straight punches with Austin showing his love for rib meat with the occasional blast to Williams’ side.

In the fifth while rumbling near Williams’ corner, Austin connected with a monstrous overhand right while Ref. Chiavone was trying to separate the fighters. Williams went down hard and ringside physician, Dr. Anthony Allesi determined Williams was unfit to continue. At that point the referee must not have considered the foul committed by Austin enough grounds for disqualification and they went instead to the scorecards. Austin was declared the winner by technical decision with scores of 39-27 twice and 40-26 once. Ray Austin’s record is now 20-3-2 (14) while Willie Williams settles for 16-6 (11).

In the walk-out bout of the night bantamweights (118lbs) Jose Nieves and Luis Malave fought six busy rounds which garnered Nieves a unanimous decision. All three judges saw the fight a shut-out for Nieves who controlled Malave with quick combinations throughout. Nieves remains unbeaten at 9-0-2 with 7 kayos and Luis Malave drops to 8-5-1 with 6 kayos .

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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