The longshot bid of Mexico’s Robinson Castellanos to become a world champion with 12 losses proved a dramatic but ultimately frustrating pursuit Saturday night at the Forum.
Castellanos, after earning a World Boxing Assn. super-featherweight title shot at Panama’s Jezreel Corrales by upsetting Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa in May, scored two fourth-round knockdowns of Corrales to inspire himself and his supporters.
The relentless Castellanos (24-13) was outboxed through the next few rounds, however, and then his aggressiveness cost him when he was knocked down by a Corrales punch in the eighth.
The action fight extended into the 10th, when Corrales (22-1) accidentally head-butted Castellanos under the right eye, where Castellanos was suffering from swelling.
“That head butt should have disqualified him. It could have been fatal,” Castellanos said after a cut burst open under his eye and a ringside physician advised the referee to stop the bout, sending the outcome to the judges, with the 10th round counting because it had lasted 31 seconds.
By majority decision, Corrales won by scores of 94-94, 94-93, 96-92, successfully defending his belt for the second time.
“I am honestly so sad,” Castellanos said.
A relieved Corrales said, “This is probably the best fight that I’ve had in my career so far.”
The bout preceded the night’s main event, the first World Boxing Council super-featherweight title defense by Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt against former champion Takashi Miura of Japan.
Corrales said he was eyeing the winner, as was Mexico’s Olando Salido, who said he was promised by WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman that he would get that bout. Salido, after a hand injury, said he’ll be ready to fight again in September.
Earlier, light-heavyweight Sullivan Barrera absorbed one first-round punch that taught him about the rugged power of highly rated contender Joe Smith Jr.
But then Barrera recovered from that knockdown and spent the rest of the fight enlightening Smith about boxing’s finer points, repeatedly avoiding Smith’s best punches while clocking the New Yorker with his own en route to a unanimous-decision victory by scores of 96-93, 97-92, 97-92.
Miami’s Barrera (20-1), who lost only to unbeaten three-belt light-heavyweight champion Andre Ward, systematically found openings in Smith’s suspect defense and at times wobbled the fighter best known for retiring Bernard Hopkins in December by knocking him out through the ropes at the Forum.
Barrera, at 35, showed far more skill and power than Hopkins and pounded WBC and WBA top-five-rated Smith (23-2) with creative offerings like uppercuts, two heavy punches to the head in the sixth and alternate hands connected to the body and head in the seventh.