Diego Corrales has been gone for five years, but his fighting spirit won’t soon be forgotten

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

May 7 is a significant day in boxing history, for good and bad reasons.

On May 7, 2005, one of the greatest fights in the sport's history occurred at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, when Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo put on an epic match in a battle for the lightweight title.

They went at each other with a fury for nine fast-paced rounds. Castillo, though, seemed on the verge of an historic victory in the 10th when he knocked Corrales down twice. Corrales' eyes were swollen almost completely shut and he was on unsteady legs when he arose after the second knockdown.

When the action resumed, Corrales landed a huge straight right that badly hurt Castillo. Always a great finisher, Corrales jumped on him and landed a series of savage blows that forced referee Tony Weeks to jump in and save Castillo. Neither man was ever nearly close to the same fighter again.

Tragically, two years to the day later, Corrales died in a motorcyle accident in the shadow of Mandalay Bay. The 2007 Suzuki 100 motorcycle he was driving at a high rate of speed crashed into the back of a Honda Accord. Corrales was thrown from the bike and was pronounced dead on the scene.

Corrales had personal demons he fought, but he was beloved in the boxing community, particularly in Las Vegas, for his cheerful, friendly nature, his willingness to help anyone and his fearlessness in the ring.

His funeral attracted a huge throng of a who's who in boxing.

Those who saw that match with Castillo will never forget it. A few days before the bout, I was walking with Corrales down a hallway in the bowels of Mandalay Bay. We were headed to an open workout, and I was taking the chance to ask him a few questions.

He was talking about the significance of the match and said "I'd walk through the fires of hell," to win the match. A couple of days later, he pretty much did exactly that.

He left a large family, but also a legacy as one of the most entertaining fighters and most engaging athletes in history.

He's gone, but never will be forgotten.

What to Read Next