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Friday, March 12, 2010

Fight-central notebook from Pacquiao-Clottey

The end of a boxer's road can be a sad and lonely place, even if 45,000 people are in your close company.

Mexico's Jose Luis Castillo, the former world lightweight champion, will fight for the 71st time when he meets former "The Contender" cast member Alfonso Gomez in a welterweight bout on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao's welterweight title defense against Joshua Clottey on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The undercard will also feature a world lightweight title fight pitting Chicago's David Diaz vs. Mexico's Humberto Soto, and a middleweight bout starring Ireland's John Duddy.

Castillo's appearance could very well be the final chapter in a career that featured incredible peaks: his 2000 upset of Stevie Johnston to claim the lightweight belt, the narrow unanimous-decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2002 that many believe was the closest Mayweather has come to losing, and his classic 2005 slugfest with Diego Corrales that The Times voted fight of the decade.

But there have been sad lows, as well, including his inability to make weight twice in a rematch with Corrales and a third fight that was canceled. He proceeded to lose to Ricky Hatton, missed weight by seven pounds and squandered a bout against Timothy Bradley, and has suffered the heartbreaking deaths of his brother and sister during the last six years that required psychological counseling, he revealed Thursday.

Promoter Bob Arum has seen this act play out before in his long involvement in the sport.

"I know he's having money problems, I'd rather he didn't fight," Arum said.

Castillo, 36, has fought 377 rounds, and hasn't been in the ring since September. He served as a sparring partner to Pacquiao before the Filipino star's November bout against Miguel Cotto.

Yet, Arum's promotional partner in Mexico, Fernando Beltran, has vouched for Castillo's stability.

"It doesn't thrill me," Arum said minutes before giving Castillo a stirring introduction at a news conference: "As long as boxing exists, that fight [with Corrales] will go down in lore. And he still lookds in great shape."

Castillo, of course, touted his skills and spoke of how he wants "to come back and be a world champion," even at 140 pounds, where he so badly missed weight against Bradley.

"I know I can do this," Castillo said through an interpreter. "I abused myself. I didn't treat myself correctly. But now I'm going to quiet a lot of people in Mexico. I feel great. I feel like I was when I was 28."

Beltran vowed that Castillo will perform well against Gomez.

"He's going to be fine," Beltran said. "It was easy convincing Bob. Bob appreciates his great fights."

--Arum said he budgeted for Pacquiao-Clottey to generate between 500,000 and 700,000 pay-per-view buys, and now believes the number will be between 700,000 and 900,000, while HBO dreams of 1 million buys.

Pacquiao's bout in November against Cotto had 1.25 million buys.

The draw of Pacquiao and the intrigue of seeing a fight inside the mammoth stadium will fuel this show -- HBO is promising the use of special cameras to allow the viewer to experience the feel of next year's Super Bowl site.

"We're going to lose 110,000 buys from the island of Puerto Rico, though," Arum said. "How we can make those up remains to be seen."

--Tecate is offering a $20 rebate coupon for the pay-per-view purchase inside special cases of 12-packs and larger, the beer company announced.

--Fight publicist Ed Keenan staged a moment of redemption for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Tuesday, when he had Pacquiao present Jones with a bottle of XXX wine during Pacquiao's media workout session.

At the NFL combine last month, New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton swiped a bottle of wine, expensive 2007 Caymus Special Selection cabernet sauvignon, from an Indianapolis steakhouse table that was meant for Jones. Payton wrote on the empty bottle, WHO DAT!, and instructed a waiter to leave it for Jones.

Pacquiao took a new bottle into the ring Tuesday and handed it to Jones, signing it as a token of appreciation.

--Lance Pugmire


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