Promoter needlessly risking Jose Luis Castillo's long-term health

Promoter needlessly risking Jose Luis Castillo's long-term health

TAPEI -- Boxing promoters are notorious for undermatching their top fighters until it's time to cash in on them.

But what promoter Arthur Pellulo of Banner Promotions is doing for Ruslan Provodnikov's fight on Saturday is risking Jose Luis Castillo's long-term health at even greater risk by giving the Mexican a fight he is fully unqualified to take.

Pellulo was looking for an easy victory for Provodnikov, aka "The Siberian Rocky," who is trying to rebound after a June defeat to Chris Algieri in the New York borough of Brooklyn. He is paying Castillo, the former lightweight champion, $250,000 in order to take a beating from Provodnikov on Saturday in Moscow.

It's the boxing equivalent of college football's so-called "body bag games," where poor and/or smaller programs get paid to take a beating from the Division I powerhouses.

But boxing is a vastly different sport, and Pellulo is putting Castillo in serious jeopardy by pairing him with the power-punching Provodnikov. Castillo is 40 years old and beyond shot, and is only fighting because he loves the sport and needs the money.

When confronted about the match by Yahoo Sports, Pellulo justified it by saying no one else would take the fight. But HBO Sports offered Pellulo a fight for Provodnikov against Mauricio Herrera, but Pellulo declined it. He first tried to get Zab Judah to go to Russia to fight Provodnikov, but when Judah declined, he turned to Castillo, who is best known for his epic 2005 bout with Diego Corrales, a back-and-forth slugfest that might be the best match of the 21st century.

Castillo hasn't been a quality fighter for years and could be seriously injured in the bout with Provodnikov, a former world champion who is not only in his prime but is also one of the harder punchers in the sport.

Pellulo said he would not allow Castillo to be hurt, but it's no longer within his control. Castillo no longer has the reflexes or the skills to keep Provodnikov off of him. It's almost a given that he'll be beaten; hopefully for his sake, it won't be any more than that and he'll come out of the match with whatever is left of his health.

These are the kinds of bouts that give boxing a bad name. It's difficult to fathom a credible athletic commission in the U.S. would ever sanction a Provodnikov-Castillo match.

Pairing a shot fighter like Castillo against a quality opponent in his prime is a recipe for disaster. If something bad happens to Castillo, it's something Pellulo will have to live with for the rest of his life.