Jose Luis Castillo Bloodies Popoca
By John G. Thompson: Jose Luis Castillo’s (64-11-1, 55 KO’s) trunks were covered in the blood of Ivan Popoca (15-2-1, 10 KO’s) by the fifth round this Friday the 13th evening. The match was televised on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights as part of a co-feature with the Glen Johnson vs. Andrzej Fonfara bout at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois.
Article posted on 14.07.2012
Thirty-eight year old Castillo who goes by the nickname “El Temible” (fearsome) has fought a who’s who list of fighters in his whopping 75 bout career. He’ll be best remembered as the man who came closest to beating the undefeated pound for pound great Floyd Mayweather Jr. back in 2002 at lightweight, and of course for his role in the 2005 match with Diego Corrales (RIP) which will be remembered as one of the most exciting fights of the last century. Castillo was stopped in the tenth round after having knocked Corrales down several times and seemed on the verge of victory. Castillo has won three of his last four bouts since retiring in the sixth round against Alfonso Gomez in 2010. All four of those bouts took place in Castillo’s native Mexico..
His opponent Popoca, veteran of about 150 amateur bouts, was born in Mexico but now fights out of Chicago where almost all of his professional bouts have taken place. His sole loss, an eighth round knockout at the hands of Ruslan Provodnikov occurred in his last bout in April of last year – Popoca now coming off over a year-long boxing layoff. Popoca has wins over the likes of Jose Luis Soto Karass and Hector Alatorre.
Castillo stalked Popoca around the ring in the first round. With a little over a minute left in the round Castillo caught him flush with a left hook and Popoca stumbled back to the ropes. Popoca looked hurt and Castillo let his hands go looking for the stoppage, following Popoca across the ropes into a corner. Castillo landed more flush shots to the chin as the two leaned in close and exchanged inside – Popoca trying to throw back instead of holding. I scored the round 10-8 for Castillo even without the knockdown. Castillo out-landed Popoca in the round 39 of 98 punches to Popoca’s 9 of 68.
Thirty seconds into the second round Castillo caught Popoca with a left hook and he went down, grabbing at a middle rope to try and stay up, but he landed on his ass in a corner. He got up quickly using the ropes. Castillo tried to finish it and Popoca bravely tried to fight back instead of holding. Later in the round Popoca turned southpaw and this seemed effective at keeping Castillo from landing his left hook – which had been his best weapon in the fight. Toward the end of the round Popoca actually got busier and backed Castillo to the ropes.
Popoca came out in the southpaw stance in the third. Ringside commentator Teddy Atlas said, “Both times when he’s come out orthodox in this fight – first round, second round – he’s been hurt… Till further notice we have a southpaw.” Popoca began bleeding badly from his left eye after a headbutt, nevertheless Popoca picked up the pace, letting his hands go, backing up Castillo who seemed content to look for counter hooks and uppercuts. The way they traded shots on the inside throughout the fight was vaguely reminiscent of Castillo vs. Diego Corrales (RIP).
Castillo landed a good right-left combo to start the fourth round and followed it up with a lead right to the jaw. Castillo also threw a looping left hook which Popoca ducked and then Popoca landed a good counter left of his own which backed Castillo to the ropes. Popoca stayed very busy throughout the round, though many of his shots missed
or were blocked or just glancing. If you wanted to give Popoca a round, this might have been it.
By the fifth round Castillo’s white trunks were almost as red as Popoca’s due to all the blood coming from Popoca’s face. A second cut had opened over his right eye, and it was unclear if it was due to a punch or a headbutt as there were many of both throughout the evening. By the end of the round Popoca’s face was also turning as red as his trunks.
In the sixth round Castillo looked like he hurt his left hand on Popoca’s head. He started moving and boxing, staying out of Popoca’s range and countering. With fifteen seconds left in the round Referee Pete Podgorski had Popoca’s cuts checked by the doctors and one of the doctors uttered one of the best boxing quotes I’ve ever heard, “He’s a bloody mess, but I think he’s fine.” The doctor meant of course that the wounds were “superficial” and not life or career threatening and the blood was not obscuring his vision too badly.
Referee Podgorski stopped the fight after the eighth round – the last two rounds having gone the same way as the majority of the fight, with Podgorski perhaps the busier fighter, but Castillo landing the only meaningful shots. Podgorski said to Popoca in the corner, “You gotta have a chance to win.” He meant that Popoca had probably lost the last seven or eight rounds, taking punishment in the process, and he showed no indication that he had the power to stop Castillo. Teddy Atlas commented, “The referee thought what we thought – no chance for Popoca to win, why allow him to continue… especially in the form he was in, looking at his face.”
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