Former boxing champ Corrales dies in crash

Associated Press • May 8, 2007 at 11:21 AM

LAS VEGAS - To his closest friends and boxing associates, Diego "Chico" Corrales' death in a high-speed motorcycle crash came as no surprise.

"I think anyone who knew him well knew he was a real thrill- seeker," said Joe Goossen, Corrales' estranged former trainer. Goossen recalled begging the boxer who threw big punches and took big chances not to ride the motorcycles he brought to training camp.

"We had a great three-year run," Goossen said Tuesday of a relationship that ended when the two parted in October 2006. "We won three world titles in three straight fights in two different weights."

Corrales' promoter, Gary Shaw, said Corrales, whose career faltered the past two years, recently bought the racing motorcycle he was riding when he was killed.

"He fought recklessly and he lived recklessly," Shaw said. "That was his style."

Police said Corrales' 2007 Suzuki hit the back of a car Monday evening while trying to pass at high speed on a busy residential street about 7 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip and not far from his home.

Corrales, who was wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 7:22 p.m. crash. He was 29.

Las Vegas police blamed speed and rider inexperience. The state Department of Motor Vehicles said Corrales' vehicle and motorcycle licenses had been revoked in July 2006 for a drunken driving conviction on an October 2005 arrest.

Las Vegas police Sgt. Tracy McDonald said investigators found an April 21 bill of sale for the motorcycle and were trying to calculate the speed, which he said appeared "well above" the posted 35 mph.

The Clark County coroner's office was awaiting results of blood drug and alcohol tests before ruling on a cause of Corrales' death, a spokeswoman said. McDonald said the toxicology tests could take about two weeks.

Corrales had a history of drunken driving and faced arrest stemming from a failure to appear in January in a Las Vegas court on a separate DUI charge on March 1, 2006, said Kathy Karstedt, a spokeswoman for the Clark County district attorney. Charges also included speeding and evading a police officer.

In 1999, Corrales also pleaded guilty in Henderson Justice Court to misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol, was fined and agreed to attend traffic school, Karstedt said. Corrales' lawyer, Marc Risman, said the 2006 DUI case was "being resolved." Risman said Corrales was in training camp at the time he was supposed to have appeared in court. "It would be a shame if his memory was tarnished at this point by past incidents that may have nothing to do with what happened yesterday," Risman said.

"Diego lived life to the fullest," said Pat Lamparelli, 51, a family friend who used to go on father- son outings with his son, Corrales, and Corrales' son. "He lived it as if every day was his last day."

Lamparelli spent Tuesday at the home of Michelle Corrales, Diego's pregnant wife. The couple had three children, with a son due in July, and were trying to reconcile after separating earlier this year.

Michelle Corrales was not making public statements, Lamparelli said. "It wasn't like he was down on his boxing career," Lamparelli said of Diego Corrales. "He was trying to get his personal life in order." Corrales, who fought most of his career at 130 pounds, was best known for getting up after two 10th-round knockdowns to stop Jose Luis Castillo on May 7, 2005, in what the Boxing Writers Association of America and numerous boxing publications called the fight of the year.

Corrales was knocked out by Castillo in the rematch and then had three straight fights undermined at the weigh-in.

"We had two amazing fights and our names will be linked forever," Castillo said in a statement. "For me it was a privilege of knowing Chico and being part of such great fights."

Castillo couldn't make weight twice against Corrales, and the second time Corrales refused to fight him at the higher weight, costing himself a $1.3 million payday. Corrales then couldn't make the weight limit for his WBC 135-pound title defense against Joel Casamayor, and eventually lost the fight. Corrales was born in Sacramento, Calif., and lived in Las Vegas in recent years. He won his first 33 fights and held a piece of the 130-pound title before he was stopped by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a unification fight in January 2001.

Corrales went to jail on a domestic abuse charge after that fight, and didn't fight again for two years. He came back to fight a trilogy against Casamayor, losing two of the three fights, and split a pair of fights with Castillo. Corrales lost his last three fights, including his final one April 7 against Joshua Clottey in Springfield, Mo. He had moved up two weight divisions to welterweight for that bout. Top Rank chief Bob Arum, who promoted a Corrales-Castillo fight with Shaw, said all of boxing was stunned and saddened by Corrales' death. "Diego was a class person who we were very fond of," Arum said in a statement. "Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife, Michelle, and the rest of his family." A memorial service is scheduled Thursday in Las Vegas.

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