In order to be considered among the best boxers of all-time, you need to have won at least one title. Without that title, no matter how good you were, it will be hard for you to be in the conversation when people start naming the best boxers they can think of. That is the problem that faces former pugilist Ruben Castillo.
He spent 20 years in the professional boxing ranks and won the majority of his matches, but he was never able to claim a championship belt. And because of that you probably don’t know who Castillo is, so let’s go over his career.
Ruben Castillo’s boxing career
Castillo was one of the top athletes in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions in the late 1970s and ’80s. He debuted in 1975 and had established a 46-0 record by 1980, when he earned his first title shot.
Castillo would end up fighting until 1997 — with a couple of “retirements” before then. He finished his career with 82 fights, winning 70 of them — 38 by knockout. He lost 10 times and had two draws, but six of Castillo’s losses came in the twilight of his career, in his final 13 matches.
Ruben Castillo’s title fights
Castillo’s first title fight was for the super featherweight belt against WBC champion Alexis Arguello. Castillo was leading on one judge’s card when the fight was stopped in the 11th round after Arguello nailed a couple of debilitating body blows on his challenger.
Two fights later, Castillo faced off with WBC featherweight titleholder Salvador Sanchez, who won the 15-round bout in a close decision. Castillo fought for that same title three years later, losing to champion Juan Laporte. And two years after that, Castillo had his fourth and final chance at winning a belt when he challenged Julio Cesar Chavez for the WBC super featherweight title.
That match was stopped in the sixth round with Castillo again on the losing end of the battle. That means of his 10 career losses, four came in the only title matches he fought in his career, preventing him from ever getting a belt around his waist. His last title match came in 1985, a year before he announced his first retirement, and 12 years before he would hang up his gloves for good.
Couldn’t get over the hump
As you can see, Castillo got a few shots at gold but could never finish off any of the champs that he faced to earn the title of world champion. But he won 85% of his fights, and he only lost six matches that weren’t for belts — all late in his career — which means that he was a great boxer overall.
He just couldn’t manage to do what he needed to do in order to get to the top of the mountain in his weight class and take the belt away from any of the champions who he faced. That means that, although he’s not a household name outside of hardcore fans of the sport, Castillo is probably among the best boxers to never win a title.
He was a real force in the weight classes in which he competed, but the ultimate prize continued to elude him for two decades in both the featherweight and super featherweight divisions. And the lack of a title will, ultimately, be what Castillo is remembered for among boxing fans because championships are usually what helps to cement an athlete’s legacy, whether in an individual sport like boxing or a team game like football — Dan Marino would probably be more highly regarded as an all-time great than he is if he managed to lead the Dolphins to a Super Bowl title.