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Just ask Joe Goossen — that Corrales-Castillo bout is still a stunner

Just ask Joe Goossen — that Corrales-Castillo bout is still a stunner
Jose Luis Castillo, left, lands a knockdown punch against Diego Corrales during their lightweight title bout in 2005. (Eric Jamison / Associated Press)

The roller coaster of life took Joe Goossen on quite a ride the last few weeks.

Goossen is a world-class boxing trainer. He has been in the corner of several world champions, and he is still at it.

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A week ago Monday, his older brother died.

Dan Goossen, 64, was the main man in Goossen Promotions, a bigger-than-life figure who was among the bigger and better boxing promoters in the country. Among his fighters was Andre Ward, whom many consider to be close behind Floyd Mayweather Jr., as the sport's pound-for-pound best.

Goossen's death was a shock to the boxing world. He had liver cancer. He found out in early September, about the time Joe was turning 61, and lived less than a month. His condition was kept quiet.

As recently as May 10, Dan had put on the Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola heavyweight title fight at USC's Galen Center. He shared the promotion with Don King. That alone takes the perseverance and energy of a healthy man, exactly what Goossen appeared to be.

So there was no reason to inquire of Joe about Dan during an interview about one of the greatest boxing matches ever. That was Diego (Chico) Corrales versus Jose Luis Castillo at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, May 7, 2005.

Recent TV replays of the lightweight title fight had prompted the interview. The thought was that boxing fans might also like to read more about it. Joe Goossen sounded subdued (now we know why), but his enthusiasm for the subject grew as the conversation went on.

"It was the most stunning performance in boxing history," Goossen said.

"Bert Sugar [the late boxing historian] told me once, 'It wasn't one of the greatest fights. It was the greatest.'"

Memories flooded back, therapeutic ones, as we learned later.

Joe Goossen had been in Corrales' corner. Castillo was an incredibly hard-punching lightweight and welterweight. Many still think he won his first fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., or at least came closer than anyone else has. Mayweather remains unbeaten today.

Castillo fought one way. Inside. His body punches were devastating. Mayweather survived because, as Goossen said, "He has the greatest legs in the world and could run."

Corrales couldn't do that, but the pre-fight theory was that Corrales, the taller fighter, could stay away and hurt Castillo with his reach.

"I let everybody think that," Goossen said. "I told Diego to go ahead and fight him inside. I thought he could beat him that way. When he did that, Castillo's corner didn't know what to do. You could see the looks on their faces in early rounds."

As Corrales later characterized it, "We were like two magnets."

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The first nine rounds were brutal, with punishing shots connecting repeatedly.

In the 10th, likely the greatest action round in modern history, Castillo knocked Corrales down twice. Both were devastating shots. Both times, Corrales somehow got up. Twice, he bought some time by losing his mouthpiece and having his corner wash and replace it.

But, for all intents, he was done. When referee Tony Weeks let it continue, Castillo twice went hunting for the final finish, as any boxer would.

But in the midst of his second attempt at that, Castillo took a hard counter shot from Corrales, and suddenly, the hunter became the hunted. In one of the most astounding turnarounds in all of sports, Corrales now had Castillo against the ropes, blasting away. In the instant before Weeks jumped in and stopped it, Castillo's eyes rolled back in his head and his hands fell to his side.

"In that moment," Goossen said, "Tony Weeks became the referee of the century."

There had been a boxing dinner in town that weekend. At ringside were more than a dozen of the best boxers in the world. They were going crazy. None had ever seen anything like this.

Corrales had a huge mouse under one eye, Castillo was glassy-eyed and bleeding. Spectators were delirious.

Both boxers were taken to different hospitals.

"The beating Diego got from Castillo's body punches was unbelievable," Goossen said. "They took a urine sample and it looked like a bottle of tomato juice."

Corrales told Goossen he was sore for months. One report said that Castillo stayed in a dark room at home in Mexico for weeks afterward.

"It was like nothing I have ever seen," Goossen said. "It was 30 fights rolled into one night. People said later that that fight had to take a lot out of both guys."

On May 7, 2007, two years to the day after the fight, Corrales crashed his motorcycle at high speed and died. The accident was not far from Mandalay Bay, where the fight had been. His blood-alcohol level was later revealed to be considerably higher than the legal limit. He would have turned 37 on Aug. 25.

In March 2010, on a Manny Pacquiao card in the Dallas Cowboys' stadium, Castillo— basically given one last payday by promoter Bob Arum — retired in his corner before the sixth round of a fight with Alfonso Gomez. Castillo said afterward he was finished, that he didn't have it anymore.

Since then, Castillo has fought eight more times, including a victory in Sonora, Mexico, on May 30. He is 40.

Joe Goossen is still working corners.

The day he did the interview on Castillo-Corrales — three days before his brother died — he talked about his junior middleweight, Vanes Martirosyan, who fought Saturday at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

Martirosyan dedicated the fight to his promoter. When he won, it made the victory that much sweeter for the promoter's brother.

Still, for Joe Goossen, the highs of recounting memories of one fight and winning another one, fell well short of compensating for a lost brother.

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