06 06 10 - Darchinyan retained his title and remained unbeaten
|By Steve Springer, Times Staff Writer
June 4, 2006
LAS VEGAS — As the two preliminary fighters circled each other in the ring at Thomas & Mack Center, Diego Corrales watched from a tunnel, his infant daughter, Daylia, in his arms, agony in his eyes.
"It's tough watching people throw punches," Corrales said, "knowing I can't hit anybody because of him."
By "him," Corrales was referring to Jose Luis Castillo, who was back home in Mexico on Saturday night instead of in the ring battling Corrales for the World Boxing Council lightweight title. The fight was canceled Friday afternoon when Castillo weighed in at 139 1/2 pounds, 4 1/2 pounds over the lightweight limit. Corrales came in at exactly 135.
"Why didn't he call me up and tell me, 'I can't make the weight?' " Corrales said. "This fight could have been salvaged. I would have done [an agreed-upon] weight of 137 pounds, 136 pounds if we had known earlier. This is heartbreaking, being here and not being able to fight."
Instead, the scheduled semi-main event between International Boxing Federation flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan, an Armenian living in Australia, and Luis Maldonado of Mexico became the main event on a card that included six other fights.
But the public wasn't buying. Certainly not, for the most part, at full price.
Arena officials would not release a crowd figure, but there appeared to be between 2,000 and 2,500 people scattered among the great expanse of empty red seats and that might be a generous estimate. Gary Shaw, Corrales' promoter, estimated the crowd would have been between 10,000 and 12,000 had Castillo and Corrales fought.
With the hotels dropping their price to one quarter of face value, Shaw estimated the live gate at $30,000. Shaw, who is suing Castillo, figures both he and Bob Arum, Castillo's promoter, will lose about $250,000 each.
And that's not counting a $175,000 penalty due the Showtime cable network, according to one source.
A reporter seeking fans who'd laid out actual money for tickets went through two sections before finding two paying customers from Arkadelphia, Ark.
"We had never seen a live fight," said Fred Owens.
"We were here in town anyway. And some is better than none," said Randy Wade.
Coincidentally, among those in the crowd was Eddie Mustafa, who failed to make weight for his 1981 fight against Michael Spinks. That was the only other instance longtime boxing observers could remember when a fight failed to materialize because of a weight issue.
Mustafa, who weighed in at 177 in Washington, D.C., for the 175-pound match, continued to maintain Saturday night, a quarter of a century later, that, unlike Castillo, he was the victim of a rigged scale.
The crowd finally made its presence felt during the Darchinyan-Maldonado fight with Australian, Armenian and Mexican flags battling for supremacy in the stands.
Darchinyan retained his title and remained unbeaten (26-0, 21 knockouts) by handing Maldonado (33-1-1, 25) his first loss. The fight was stopped at 1:38 of the eighth round by referee Joe Cortez after Darchinyan had previously knocked Maldonado down in the sixth.
Most fans may not have paid full price, but some were still willing to buy Corrales-Castillo shirts, said David Goldfarb, whose company produces them.
"They think they could be collectors' items," Goldfarb said.
Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, reiterated Saturday that penalties against Castillo could be announced this week, which would be followed by an appeals process. Castillo could be fined and/or have his license suspended or revoked. A revocation would mean Castillo could not reapply for a license for a year.
That would be fine with Shaw.
"Something like this breaks down the fabric of the sport," Shaw said. "This is a flagrant violation. The public has been defrauded."
A Pounding at the Box Office
Sparse crowd attends card a day after title bout was canceled because of Castillo's failure to make weight. Promoters will take a financial bath.