The Controversial Fight Series: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Jose Luis Castillo I

by Paul Magno/zd

(The Controversial Fight Series will be a semi-regular feature on The Blue Corner where we re-examine some of the more controversial bouts in the sport’s history and hopefully come away with a better understanding of the truth behind the heated debates.)

April 20th, 2002

Jose Luis Castillo was coming into the fight the defending WBC Lightweight champ after having beaten castillo-may3reigning champ Stevie Johnston and former champ Cesar Bazan. Despite being the reigning champ, Castillo was the underdog and he definitely carried a chip on his shoulder while making the long walk to the ring. Backed by years of tutelage as a friend and sparring partnerof Julio Cesar Chavez, Castillo put forth an epic effort that, at least on paper, came up short in stopping the runaway train called Floyd Mayweather Jr….or did he come up short at all? Should he have gotten the nod in a bout where he dominatedthe punch stat numbers?

Floyd Mayweather was the WBC Super Featherweight champ with 8 successful defenses under his belt and a list of victims that included a dizzying array of quality fighters such as Diego Corrales, Genaro Hernandez, Goyo Vargas, Famoso Hernandez and, the fight before the Castillo bout, a TKO of the durable Jesus Chavez. There was no doubt that Mayweather came into the ring with a sense of entitlement. What he discovered was a champion who fought with the urgency of a contender and someone who made for a much tougher fight than anticipated. But Mayweather’s control of the first half of the bout and his slickness and skill earned him enough points to stay ahead of Castillo despite the Mexican’s push…or did it?

Paul, an unabashed Mayweather supporter and Zd, a dedicated Mayweather critic, will dissect the fight round by round in an effort to get at the truth and then…you can be the final judge.

Round 1

Zd: Mayweather dominated the round with his speed and accurate punching as he was the aggressor, Castillo was ineffective, looking lost at times, and getting counterd. Castillo was bleeding from his nose by the end of the round, Dominant round for Mayweather. (Round: Mayweather 10-9)

Paul: Mayweather controlled this round with his hand/foot speed He scored several solid potshots from the outside and controlled the pace nicely. Castillo had a few near misses, but no real, effective punches. (Round: Mayweather 10-9)

Round 2

castillo-may2Zd: Mayweather was the aggressor in the beginning of the round. Castillo tripped over his own feet while walking backwards and getting caught with a left hook from Mayweather with 2:38 on the clock, the ref didn’t rule it a knockdown, Mayweather continued to dominate with his quick feet, coming in and out, staying away from castillo’s punches. There was a clash of head in 1:58 in which Mayweather got a slight cut above his left eye, after that, Castillo’s aggression started to be a little more effective, catching Mayweather with some punches, but Mayweather took control of the round again to win it. (Round: Mayweather 10-9, Total: Mayweather 20-18)

Paul: Better round for Castillo. A cut-causing headbutt and Mayweather’s apparent shoulder problems may have distracted Mayweather. It was a close round, but Mayweather landed the cleaner shot and displayed more ring generalship. (Round: Mayweather, Total: Mayweather 20-18)

Round 3

Zd: Mayweather controlled the round by staying on the outside, and jabbing effectively to the head and body keeping Castillo at distance for most of the round, Castillo was able to get on the inside a couple of times using good head movement landing some good shots, Mayweather continued to effectively pot shot his way through the round landing some good shots of his own. (Round: Mayweather 10-9, Total: Mayweather 30-27)

Paul: The round boiled down to Castillo’s one effective scoring punch vs. 2:58 of sharp defense and solid jabs to the head and body by Mayweather…lots of near misses for Castillo. (Round: Mayweather 10-9, Total: Mayweather 30-27)

Round 4

Zd: Mayweather was the more active fighter, dominating from the outside with some good jabs and lead rights in the first half of the round, in the second half Mayweather was still the more active fighter, but couldn’t land anything, Castillo showed good defense as he moved forward making Mayweather miss. (Round: Mayweather 10-9, Total: Mayweather 40-36)

Paul: Larry Merchant starts with the…“I’m have the impression that this is much rougher going for Mayweather than he anticipated…” line.

Castillo gets sharper with his punches and seems to be cutting the distance He lands a handful of nice punches…Mayweather moves decently and lands just enough to win a very close round. (Round: Mayweather 10-9, Total: Mayweather 40-36)

Round 5

Zd: Mayweather was fighting from the outside using his jab, but Castillo used some good head movement, and defense to get inside and be more effective, Catching most of Mayweather’s punches with his gloves or slipping his head, and being able to land more punches , and be more effective than Mayweather. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Mayweather 49-46)

Paul: Most of the round followed a pattern of decent work by Castillo followed by better follow-up by Mayweather…Castillo had a nice last 20 seconds…Made it close, but not enough for the round. (Round: Mayweather 10-9, Total Mayweather 50-45)

Round 6

Zd: Castillo dominated the round by being the aggressor and showing excellent defense, by hardly letting any punches through going forward, out landing Mayweather, and landing the cleaner, harder punches. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Mayweather 58-56)

Paul: A Good, solid round for Castillo He scored some effective punches, and was effective at crowding Mayweather. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Mayweather 59-55)

Round 7

Zd: Castillo’s aggression was effective, using head movement to get in the inside and land some good shots, outlanding, and dominating Mayweather in the round. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Mayweather 67-66)

Paul: Great round for Castillo. Excellent body work and good crowding of the quicker Mayweather. Mayweather has a couple of good moments, but this is Castillo’s round…possibly the best round against Mayweather, ever. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Mayweather 68-65)

Round 8

Zd: Both fighters trading shots throughout the round, Castillo being more effective again by landing more and more meaningful shots, but gets a point deducted at the end of the round for hitting on the break. (Round: Even, Total: Mayweather 76-75)

Paul: Good comeback round for Mayweather. Castillo has some moments, but Maweather’r ring generalship wins a very close round. Ref deducts a point from Castillo for blatant hitting on the break. (Round: Mayweather 10-8, Total: Mayweather 78-73)

Round 9

Zd: The round was all Castillo, whose ring generalship and power won the round. At the end of the round, Mayweather hits Castillo after the bell, the referee looked as though he was going to take a point away from Mayweather, but didn’t. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Even 85-85)

Paul: Merchant takes aim at referee Vic Drakulich, obviously angered over the point deduction…Lampley adds a comment about a possible Vegas robbery since Mayweather is from Vegas…Good round for Castillo, nothing spectacular, but did enough to win. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Mayweather 87-83)

Round 10

Zd: Castillo won the round by pressing Mayweather with body shots and power, Mayweather took to using his elbow and was warned a few times and by the end of the round, had a point taken for it. (Round: Castillo 10-8, Total: Castillo 95-93)

Paul: Very nice Mayweather round negated by a questionable point deduction for pushing off with the elbow. Mayweather fought his round, but it ends up even…everybody at HBO seemed to think this was a Castillo round, it wasn’t (Round: Even, Total: Mayweather 96-92)


Zd: Roger Mayweather instructed Floyd to stand and punch, perhaps an indication that his trainer was concerned that Floyd may have been behind at that late point in the fight. Close round but Castillo dominated Mayweather by standing his ground and outlanding Mayweather with the harder shots. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Castillo 105-102)

Paul: Close round, but edge goes to Castillo, who managed to fight his fight at close quarters and land some effective shots, mostly to the body. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Mayweather 105-102)

Round 12

Zd: Castillo seemed full of energy and was out working Mayweather, scoring with the heavier handed shots. As the last bell rang, both fighters continued to brawl and had to be separated by the referee. (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Castillo 115-111)

Paul: Solid round for both fighters. HBO commentary presents the image of a dominant Castillo round, but most of Castillo’s shots are low or near misses up top. Still, a slight edge to Castillo. The HBO crew delivers Mayweather’s obituary towards the end of the round. An image that sums up the commentary throughout the fight: Castillo with his hands raised, Merchant: “The way its supposed to be!” (Round: Castillo 10-9, Total: Mayweather 114-112)

Zd’s Closing Statements:

After outlanding Castillo 48-27 in first 4 rounds (swept rounds on all cards), Mayweather was outlanded in every round after, including 26-11 in round 7, 35-20 in round 11. Castillo also had edge in power connects in every round, therefore Jose Luis Castillo won the fight against Mayweather with ring generalship, and command of the fight, being able to outland, score the harder cleaner shots, and dominate Mayweather with his defense while being the agressor utilizing superb head and body movement to make Mayweather miss, as well as using his gloves to block most of Mayweather’s shots.

Paul’s Closing Statements:

There’s nobody claiming that this wasn’t a close fight and there’s nobody denying that this was probably Mayweather’s toughest fight, but to say that Mayweather actually lost the fight? Well, that takes a little bit of questionable statistic manipulation and a whole lot of wishful thinking.

Mayweather controlled the first half of the fight, winning 5 of the first 6 rounds on my scorecard. Castillo came on strong in the second half, but to say that Castillo swept the last 6 rounds (which he needed to do to get the decision) is to deny the fact, along the way, Mayweather didn’t use his defense and ring generalship to win at least 2 of the final 6…and maybe more. The 8th and 10th rounds, especially, were examples of Castillo’s aggression resulting in a lot of near misses and non-scoring low blows while Mayweather maintained his head and did what he had to do to win. Yet, the momentum towards a Castillo upset was already at steam engine force and the HBO commentating crew, sniffing a story or perhaps harboring a grudge, gave everything possible to Castillo.

Merchant and Lampley gushed over every move that Castillo made and gave him credit for every punch, whether it actually landed or not. The end result of their cheerleading was to turn a very close fight into a one-sided beating of Mayweather. Their call affected the viewing public’s perception of the fight and the evidence was presented in the Mayweather/Castillo rematch where both fighters basically fought the same fight with a less hot-under-the-collar Merchant and Lampley presiding and, as a result, everyone in the public rightfully accepted the fight as a Mayweather win.

And as far as punch stats go- remember, a fight is judged on the merit of each individual round and not via accumulation of punches. The anti-Mayweather people point to Castillo’s edge in power punches over 12, but it should be pointed out that Mayweather, in this fight, was using a very sharp “attacking” jab, so, many of his most effective punches weren’t being registered as power shots despite the fact that they were being used as such. Mayweather’s jab, in this bout, outlanded Castillo’s at a rate of about 3 to 1.

Mayweather may have lost the statistical contest, but he won enough rounds to take a rightful victory.

(To judge this fight for yourself check it out on our BTBC YouTube page, in the “Favorites” section:


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