RELATED: Corrales' boxing career
LAS VEGAS – Diego Corrales, a former world champion boxer who scored one of the most memorable knockouts in boxing history, died Monday in a three-vehicle accident near his Las Vegas home.
Corrales was driving a 2007 Suzuki 1000 motorcycle, traveling northbound on Fort Apache Road in the southwest part of the city, when it inexplicably struck the back of a 1997 Honda Accord, Las Vegas police spokesman Sgt. Tracy McDonald said.
McDonald said the motorcycle careened into the southbound lane and, at some point, he was tossed off the bike.
A 2004 Mercedes-Benz traveling in the southbound lane was unable to brake in time. McDonald said the driver, who was not identified, "was unable to avoid striking the motorcycle and possibly the operator of the motorcycle also."
"Diego Corrales lived an 'X Games lifestyle,' " his promoter, Gary Shaw said. "He was a true warrior. He did everything hard and fast. He loved anything to the extreme. He was the kind of guy in the ring you never had to worry about quitting. I don't know how many times he would say, 'They'll have to kill me first.' "
Corrales' wife, Michelle, who is seven months pregnant, was on the scene and identified the body shortly after 11 p.m. PT. The accident occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m. McDonald said there was no outward evidence of drugs or alcohol involved.
He could not say how fast the motorcycle was traveling.
"There is still a lot of evidence to go through," McDonald said.
Corrales, who was 40-5 and held world championships in both the junior lightweight and lightweight divisions, was the victor in one of the most storied bouts in the sport's history.
On May 7, 2005, he and Jose Luis Castillo engaged in a toe-to-toe slugfest for nine rounds at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Twice Castillo knocked down Corrales in the 10th round and appeared on the verge of knocking him out.
But Corrales arose after the second knockout and fought back with a fury, and he wound up stopping Castillo in what would become the 2005 Fight of the Year. It also would be his last victory.
"No one who ever saw that fight will ever forget it," Shaw said. "There weren't that many people in the arena that night, but I know there are hundreds of thousands of people who now say they were there because that was one of those nights. He belongs in the Hall of Fame based on that fight alone."
In a June 2, 2006, story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Corrales spoke of his love of extreme sports. He told a story of jumping from a plane at 14,000 feet, snowboarding on rocky terrain and scuba diving with a school of sharks.
He said he liked the rush he got from those types of sports.
"I'm only young once, and unless someone hasn't told me something yet, I only get to live once," Corrales told the Review-Journal. "If I couldn't do this stuff now, stuff I always wanted to do, I would never get a chance to do it."
The father of five children, Corrales struggled through the last part of his life. He had financial difficulties and used part of a signing bonus he had received from Golden Boy Promotions to pay back taxes he owed.
However, Golden Boy was seeking the money back because it turned out he was not free to sign with the company and still was under contract to Shaw. As Yahoo! Sports reported last week, Corrales had signed a legal document promising to repay the money.
The knockout win over Castillo turned out to be the last of his career. He was knocked out in the fourth round of the Oct. 8, 2005, rematch with Castillo, a bout marked by a controversy when Castillo failed to make the lightweight division limit of 135 pounds.
Corrales agreed to fight at 147 pounds so as not to disappoint fans who had purchased tickets. But Castillo then failed to make weight for a planned June 3, 2006, rubber match, and that bout was canceled.
Corrales then didn't make weight for an Oct. 7, 2006, bout with Joel Casamayor and wound up losing his title on a split decision. In his last bout, on April 7, he was soundly beaten in a welterweight match by Joshua Clottey.
"He gave every ounce of himself every time he was in there," his manager, James Prince, said. "He was a fearless guy, and I'll always remember how hard he fought no matter what the circumstances."
- Diego Corrales