Lee Groves

10: Best final acts

7. Dec. 21, 1991, Thaepsapin Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand – Khaosai Galaxy W 12 Armando Castro

Since crushing Eusebio Espinal in six rounds to win the WBA junior bantamweight belt (a title stripped from Jiro Watanabe for daring to fight WBC counterpart Payao Poontarat) Galaxy had become his division’s greatest fighter. The thickly muscled southpaw ruled his weight class with a wrecking ball left that produced 16 knockouts in 18 defenses, including eight consecutive KOs in title fights entering the Castro bout.

The Mexican sported a modest 35-12-2 (29) record but was riding a five-fight KO string when he challenged Galaxy. In fact, his last 14 victories were by knockout and he hoped to cash in on Galaxy’s somewhat vulnerable chin (he suffered flash knockdowns against Alberto Castro and Cobra Ari Blanca). Late in the second round Castro did just that as a looping hook dramatically buckled Galaxy’s legs and a right uppercut sent him to the floor. By the time referee Eddie Eckert finished the mandatory count Galaxy appeared to have fully recovered and the bell sounded shortly afterward.

The third saw them engage in a thrilling toe-to-toe war on the inside, persuading Castro to shift to a stick-and-move strategy early in the fourth. Galaxy took full advantage by firing short hard shots that consistently broke through the Mexican’s guard. In the fifth Galaxy started landing his trademark lefts, especially to the chin. The looping shots that had been so effective for Castro early found mostly air and Galaxy took advantage of his wildness with compact and precise blows. Galaxy even tried long-range boxing in the sixth and his efficient counters and flurries consistently caught Castro coming in.

A short right to the ribs stunned Castro early in the seventh and a follow-up flurry had him covering up in the corner. But Castro was tough and he kept coming in despite the withering body battering he absorbed. A late-round surge had Galaxy on the run, ensuring that the Thai would have to fully extend himself to gain victory.

The intense action continued in the eighth and ninth as Castro waded in with an almost maniacal intensity.  Castro paid the price by absorbing counters that swelled and bloodied his eyes. Castro showed signs of weariness in the 10th by slowing his advance and Galaxy responded by repeatedly spearing the challenger’s face with lead lefts that occasionally set up combinations. Midway through the 11th a sizzling left-right-left sent Castro crashing to the canvas. After the challenger rose at six Galaxy had Castro racing around the ring with a succession of lefts. The rugged Castro survived the onslaught but it now was clear the mathematical mountain would be too steep to climb.

With victory in sight, Galaxy kept his distance in the 12th and boxed his way to a comfortable 117-109 (twice) 117-111 decision win. He embraced twin brother Khaokor and was presented bouquets amid a pair of giant Thailand flags. With that, Galaxy’s magnificent seven-year 19-defense reign came to a close – and the countdown toward enshrinement in Canastota began.

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