53-7-1 (47). The 27 year old native of Oxnard, California was chosen to replace Diego Corrales as Castillo's opponent when "Chico" went down with a severe rib injury while training. So this Saturday, another pugilist from manager Cameron Dunkin’s stable has a fighting chance of scoring a major upset if he can pull out a “W” in the hostile environment that is El Paso, Texas. Is it possible that Rolando Reyes could join his stable mate Zahir Raheem as a "career speed bump" down the road for another Mexican legend? Lets look at the intangiblesâ€¦
Much to the dismay of the boxing public, fight fans were anticipating the rubber match between “Chico” Corrales and “El Temible” Castillo. However, now that fight has been postponed to a later date, Reyes will tell you that it is water under the bridge and that he's tired of being called a replacement opponent for Castillo. Reyes, who has won his last five fights in a row, struggled in his previous bout against Ivan Cabrera (WSD10), which was ironically on the undercard of Corrales-Castillo II. Isn't it amazing how life comes to a complete circle?
When addressing the media, Reyes stated, "When I was presented with the opportunity to face Castillo, I took it right away. I was not going to pass up this opportunity to fight for a world title." The Oxnard man was scheduled to fight on January 20th in Temecula, CA, however, that bout fell through so Reyes was in training for another fight before he got the call to fight Castillo. Its kind of hard not questioning what constituted a fight with Castillo, but be it as it may, Reyes will be in the toughest fight of his young career and ultimately, the toughest fight of his life.
The contest will be taking place at a contractual weight of a 137 pounds. Castillo, who tipped the scales at an eye-popping 138.5 pounds in the rematch with Corrales, is apparently having difficulty making the 135 pound limit again. So from 138.5 to now fighting at 137 pounds, the difference of losing that pound and a half is tremendous. The non-athlete can lose a pound in a half from merely perspiring or by doing some type of manual labor. However, the physical frame of a boxer is a lot smaller, so losing that pound and a half is a lot of work. That's a lot of jumping rope, sauna and dehydrating oneself for a span of three hours or more if necessary. The issue of weight became a critical component vital to the outcome of the second fight with Diego and one that so many overlooked. The consensus among boxers seems to agree that you are not a happy camper before making weight or while trying to do so.
Putting the weight issue to the side, lets' see what each fighter brings to the table.
The edge in experience goes to Castillo. He has fought in sixty one professional fights and most importantly, he has fought the better opposition. Although Reyes has never been knocked out, it remains to be seen if his chin is up to the task, because on paper it doesn't seem likely. Reyes’ biggest win came against Courtney Burton. A Courtney Burton that was coming off of a knockout loss to Ebo Elder. On the other hand, it could be said that Castillo arguably beat Floyd Mayweather the first time they fought. And in therematch, the Mexican left hook artist gave "Pretty Boy" a run for his money.
The question that has to be asked and answered this Saturday will be can Castillo, at the age of thirty two and after so many tough fights against top tier opposition, still be the same Castillo of the past? How much wear and tear is on his body? When Reyes was asked about Castillo's pedigree he remarked, “I know he is a good fighter, a great champion. I have a lot of confidence in myself. I trained hard for this fight and I feel that I have had great preparation for this fight."
Rolando can box and punch, a game plan that most ringside observers feel is the right strategy to defeat Jose Luis and I would say there is some validity to what they are saying. Castillo does have seven losses, but he can box as well. We are not talking about a one dimensional fighter; everyone forgets how he boxed Juan Lazcano to a pulp.
Analyzing Castillo's seven losses, four of them were the results of very bad cuts to the face and around the eye. So those four “L’s” go out the window. We are now down to three and two of those were to Mayweather and other was to Corrales. In both the Mayweather fights, “Pretty Boy” Floyd implemented a stick and move regimen combined with a lot of defense. Floyd was successful in exposing Castillo, and he showed the world that Castillo has problems with quick handed boxers who can counter punch. The only loophole in his plan was that there was no way to neutralize Castillo's strength nor was there a way to nullify his chin.
The fact that Castillo has a granite chin makes it impossible to hurt him, not to mention he gets stronger as the fight progresses into the later rounds. Which is why you can make a valid argument stating he beat Floyd the first time around. In the case of “Chico” Corrales, he shortened the distance between Castillo and himself, forcing Castillo into a shootout, ultimately resulting in having a higher offensive output than normal. As Corrales smothered him, on top of Castillo fading out from the haymakers being thrown, (as the mouth piece incident) Corrales was able to stop him in the tenth round, ironically, when there was space between the two gladiators. But make no mistake about it, in the position that Castillo (knocking down Corrales twice in the tenth) was in during the time of the stoppage he shouldn't have been knocked out, but he was. Maybe Reyes can get lucky or Castillo can come in too confident. Who knows?
The only guy that comes to mind, that had the right idea of beating Jose Luis Castillo but came just a tad bit short was Joel Casamayor. The Cuban southpaw was sticking and moving early on and got the better of Castillo on the inside, simply because Casamayor possessed the quicker hands on the inside and was shorter than Jose Luis. Also, Castillo has great difficulty fighting lefties, as we saw with Stevie Johnston a few years ago. However, as the fight progressed into the later rounds Casamayor got tired and Castillo, as usual, got stronger. So with no other alternative, Casamayor was on his bicycle, holding and clinching every chance he could. The fight was a lot closer than how the judges scored it but one can only surmise that running and clinching didn't sit well with those scoring the fight. Especially a championship fight.
So the blueprint to beat Jose Luis Castillo has been established. You have to stick and move and in the process have very good defense or in the very least a good defense along with a very sturdy chin. Its imperative to smother him on the inside thus forcing him to expend much needed energy early in the fight so he doesn't have it in his "tank" later on.
The task that Rolando Reyes is being asked to fulfill is simply too much for him to do. The experience and the pedigree of Jose Luis Castillo is not easy to overcome. Reyes is being asked to do what Floyd, “Chico” and Casamayor did, when he has never been on that level of grandstand before. It's a lot to ask for from a rather "unseasoned" 27 year old, but then again this is boxing and boxing is the theater of the unexpected. So anything is possible and stranger things have happened but on paper this bout appears to be a mismatch. Both physically and stylistically, Reyes does not have the tools nor the technique to pull off the improbable upset that people may be hoping for.
I am picking Jose Luis Castillo to win via a vicious fifth round knockout. Hopefully Reyes will be okay and makes a lot of money. This is his biggest payday; lets see what he does with the opportunity. But give credit where credit is due, there aren't too many fighters that would be willing to step into the ring with someone like Castillo, let alone a young guy like Rolando. But is now the right time? Castillo has an eye on the grand prize. He wants to beat Corrales once more, then move to 140 and fight Miguel Cotto and then possibly either Ricky Hatton or Arturo Gatti. There are too many defining fights that lie ahead for Jose Luis Castillo. Its very hard not seeing Castillo as victorious this coming Saturday and with what lies ahead, the chance of him taking Reyes lightly are between zero and zilch.