LAS VEGAS – Jose Luis Castillo will walk to the ring on Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center on UNLV's campus for his super lightweight fight with Ricky Hatton with the word "LOCO," which is Spanish for crazy, emblazoned across the waistband of his trunks.
It is a tribute to the memory of his younger brother, Cesar, who was nicknamed "Loco."
Loco won't make Saturday's HBO-televised event, though. He died at 30 earlier this year of a brain aneurysm.
Cesar Castillo, one of Jose Luis' nine brothers and sisters, also was one of the family members supported by the earnings of the former lightweight champion.
Cesar Castillo was especially proud of his brother and carried his championship belt into the ring before fights, holding it aloft for the crowd to see.
Jose Luis Castillo has plenty of motivation to beat Hatton, but honoring the memory of an unexpectedly lost sibling has jetted to the top of the list.
"It hurts," Castillo said softly. "A day doesn't go by where I don't think of him. I'm dedicating this fight to him."
Much of Castillo's professional life has been dedicated to his family. The Castillo clan comes from the small Mexican town of Empalme, in the state of Sonora. Money always was tight, and it wasn't until Jose Luis became something of a star in boxing that the family was able to improve its circumstances.
Jose Luis employs his parents and most of his surviving siblings – one sister also died earlier – in his various businesses. He owns a convenience store and a boxing promotional company, and his family holds down most of the jobs.
Jose Luis Castillo also built homes for most of them.
But when on Aug. 24 Castillo was fined $250,000 and suspended for the remainder of the year by the Nevada Athletic Commission for his failure to make weight for a planned June 3, 2006, bout against the late Diego Corrales, it had a ripple effect long beyond just the fighter.
"It made life very difficult," Castillo said.
Corrales was injured and forced to postpone a planned Feb. 4, 2006, rubber match between them. Castillo instead fought Rolando Reyes for much less money than he would have made against Corrales.
Then he failed for the second time to make weight for a Corrales fight, missing the 135-pound lightweight limit by 4½ pounds at a June 2, 2006, weigh-in. Unlike the previous October, when Castillo failed to make weight but Corrales fought anyway, this time Corrales declined to fight.
The result was that Castillo was not paid, though he still incurred all his normal pre-fight expenses. Then he was fined $250,000 by the commission and banned from fighting in the United States for the rest of 2006.
"It's cost me almost $500,000," in fines and attorney fees, Castillo said – not to mention the missed purses.
On top of that, he was sued by Corrales and Corrales' promoter, Gary Shaw. Corrales died in a motorcycle accident on May 7, two years to the day after he stopped Castillo in one of the great bouts in modern boxing history. Judd Burstein, a lawyer representing Corrales' estate, is attempting to have Castillo's purse on Saturday placed in escrow pending the resolution of the lawsuit.
Castillo returned from the suspension in January and met Herman Ngoudjo on a doubleheader with Hatton. He earned $200,000 for the match, but Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada commission, said he took home no more than $4,000.
He paid $150,000 of the $250,000 commission fine out of the purse from the Ngoudjo fight. Then, after taxes and paying his corner people, he walked home with about $4,000 for a fight that turned out to be much more difficult than he thought. He nearly lost, which would have cost him the Hatton fight.
"This isn't like a guy who took drugs or who misbehaved in the ring," Castillo promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank said. "The poor bastard tried his damnedest to get down to the weight, but his body didn't allow it.
"To impose a $250,000 fine when he had no income and to suspend him for the rest of the year, was draconian."
Arum then went on to blast the commission, all five members of whom were appointed by former Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, a Republican.
Arum said the five – chairman Dr. Tony Alamo, John Bailey, Skip Avansino, Joe W. Brown and T.J. Day – showed a lack of compassion.
He said the penalty Castillo paid was excessive, although Kizer said he suspects it would have been less severe had Castillo alerted someone to his problem several days earlier when the fight could have been salvaged.
"Had he said something the week before, we could have alerted everyone and not put Diego through a couple of days in the sauna and still saved the event at a (different weight)," Kizer said.
Arum, though, doesn't buy that and said the penalty was disproportionate.
"That was unconscionable not to take pity on that kid for what happened," Arum said. "The kid wanted to make the weight. He almost killed himself trying to do it – do you think he would have looked like he did if he hadn't? – and then because his body shut down and wouldn't allow him to make it, when he thought he could still do it, to penalize him the way they did just shows what is wrong with the lack of compassion in this country."
HBO is paying Castillo's side $1.5 million for the fight, though Arum will get a third and Fernando Beltran, his Mexican promoter, will get the other third.
Castillo already paid the remaining $100,000 owed on the fine – it was fronted by Top Rank last week and will be deducted from his Saturday purse – so that will take him down to $400,000 before taxes and expenses.
The commission approved a $125,000 purse advance, Kizer said, because it had been so long between significant paydays for Castillo.
"We understand that these fighters are human and that they have debts and obligations and families," Kizer said. "Of that ($1.5 million), I wish Mr. Castillo was getting most of it."
Arum, though, didn't apologize for it, though he conceded it looks bad on the surface to blast someone else for a lack of compassion and then to take a third of a boxer's pay.
He said "there were plenty of things done," an insinuation he had fronted the fighter money previously. Arum said Beltran helped fund the construction of the homes Castillo built for his family.
Castillo said he's clearly wearying of talking of his weight and his pay and said he's thrilled to be heading once again into a significant fight.
The Castillo-Hatton match has Fight of the Year potential, and Castillo, who is about a 2-1 underdog, vowed to fight like he's never fought before.
"I'm going to go out and do it for my brother," Castillo said. "We're all thinking of him. This will be the best way to honor him, by (winning) the fight."
- Jose Luis Castillo
- Ricky Hatton