Can there be any question that Diego Corrales is the best 130 lb. fighter in the world? While Floyd Mayweather, Jr. continues his self-imposed exile from the sport, Corrales has been notching one impressive win after the next. But none of the IBF champion's previous victories were as complete as his three round demolition of Angel Manfredy.

If Corrales was distracted by the felony battery charges awaiting him upon return to Sacramento, it didn't show in the ring. For eight minutes, he punished Manfredy at will, hurting the challenger with every punch. Bringing a one-half foot height advantage with him, Corrales looked like a welterweight fighting a tattooed featherweight. And while Corrales had previously entered the ring weighing as much as 148 (vs. Brown), this night Corrales weighed just 140 to Manfredy's fight night weight of 135.

Manfredy's formidable task was to get inside and bang away. Seconds into the fight, he stepped into range and fired a beautiful left hook-left uppercut combo that nailed Corrales 2 for 2. Corrales looked loose, and didn't seem bothered by the blows. He calmly stalked Manfredy and studied his movement. A few times Manfredy launched quick bursts of punches, and Corrales showed off his ability to block punches on his arms and even dip low. The first was shaping up to be a typical feel-out affair when the fireworks started.

Manfredy again charged into close range and fired a beautiful double left hook to the body. The first was picture perfect, thudding loudly against Corrales' liver. The second never made it to it's target. In between Manfredy's double left hook downstairs, Corrales swung his own left hook with the effortless motion that someone shuts a screen door. This unexpected, very short, and seemingly casual punch slammed Manfredy's head and sent him down to the canvas and on his back in the blink of an eye. The amazing thing about the hook was not that it was the first meaningful punch Corrales landed in the round, but that it generated so much power in such a short distance. Manfredy popped to his feet immediately and now Corrales let his hands go.

With nearly a full minute left in the round, Corrales battered Manfredy from one side of the ring to the other. Corrales landed his left hook first, and followed it with overhand rights thrown at full velocity. They landed cleanly, as did the uppercuts and rights to the body that followed. Corrales stopped to take a breath, then fired his right hand straight down the pike into Manfredy's face. Angel's head snapped back and he was wobbled into the ropes again. Finally, the bell sounded to stop the one-sided beating. Manfredy returned to his corner wide eyed and bewildered. Corrales sat in his corner looking as relaxed as any fighter has ever looked in the ring.

The second round was more closely contested, although Boxing Chronicle also tallied the round for Corrales. Manfredy continued his aggressive attacks inside, only to find that Corrales welcomed a fight at close range. Again Manfredy launched and landed the hook-uppercut combo, and Corrales nodded in recognition of it's effect. This combo, and a few other bursts from Manfredy, garnered a loud reaction from the crowd. Manfredy twisted his body with his digging shots and the overt dedication to his power punches was noticed by the crowd. But in between those attacks, Corrales was doing an unspectacular but effective number on the challenger. Corrales expertly cut off the ring and started working his jab, and when it landed it hurt Manfredy. Furthermore, Corrales' heavy right hand and counter hooks were thrown with such nonchalance that the live crowd did not react when they landed.

With two rounds in the books, Corrales now upped his attack. Manfredy charged out in the third with a smashing six punch combo. A left right to the head followed by a left-right to the body and an uppercut and straight right to finish it off. Corrales smiled, and then offered a most convincing rebuttal. First he launched a solo lead right hand that passed through Manfredy's defense and snapped his head back. The punch was more effective that Manfredy's previous six combined. Corrales then threw a wide right to the body that dipped Manfredy's knees and had Angel retreating across the ring on unsteady legs. Corrales gave chase, landing a flush left hook and some more body shots as Manfredy tried to hang on. Corrales launched another left hook, and this one caught Manfredy on the side of his forehead. He dipped his knees in place and touched a glove to the canvas for the second knockdown of the fight. Manfredy easily convinced the referee that the fight should continue, although his legs were not yet fully under him.

Corrales teed off on Manfredy, landing a dozen unanswered punches as the rubber legged challenger retreated from one side of the ring to the next. Finally a classic one-two drove Manfredy down again to his back. Looking dazed but willing, Manfredy again beat the count. Some guys are just too tough for their own good. The fight went on, and Corrales took target practice. Although Manfredy fired back an occasional punch, he landed none. Meanwhile, Corrales attacked. Boxing Chronicle counted 25 devastating, flush, head-snapping, unbelievably powerful punches to Manfredy's noggin. The man received a most heinous beating. Finally, after Manfredy's posture had turned entirely into a protective cocoon and he stopped throwing back, referee Jerry McKenzie stepped in and halted the carnage. It was a good thing. With Manfredy's granite chin, he might have been able to take 'em as long as Corrales was able to thrown 'em. That can be a recipe for a ring tragedy.

There was no protest from Manfredy at the stoppage. After the fight, he complained that he had felt "spacey" and "weird." Perhaps making 130 was too much of a strain after fighting at 135 for several years. Regardless of how he felt, he looked good when he threw, he just took too much incoming.

Can we now finally move Mayweather down to #2 on our lists? He's fought only once since beating Carlos Gerena this time last year. He's fired his father, the only trainer he's ever had. He has no fights scheduled. His last outing was a boring one-punch-at-a-time decision over used-up Goyo Vargas nearly six months ago. Clearly, Diego Corrales, with his ring activity, power punching, and versatility, can put Mayweather to the test if the fight is made soon. Mayweather's speed and unique defense can present problems, but he's no power puncher and the ring rust will be a major factor.

The only thing holding back Diego Corrales is himself. As cliche as that sounds, the champion faces serious legal problems outside the ring. He is accused of beating his wife, who was pregnant with their child. Her injuries have been reported as serious. Corrales may be looking at a long stint in the Big House, and we don't mean Madison Square Garden. The soft spoken Corrales (now 33-0/27) insists that he will be exonerated. If the charges against him prove to be false, or if he can hire attorneys to beat the rap, then Corrales presents the single greatest threat at both 130 and 135 pounds. A spot on a pound-for-pound list should be his for the taking.

.....Chris Bushnell























© 2001 Chris Bushnell. All rights reserved.

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