'Zorro' looks to leave his mark
Juarez kayo artist Javier Castro lands spot on ‘Tijuana Thunder’ card
Story & photos by Chris Cozzone
When Javier Castro was a kid, he loved Zorro movies so much, he’d wear a mask to bed.
Having left an impression on Castro as a nickname, “Zorro,” in a pugilistic incarnation, seeks to leave his mark upon the boxing world—and opponent—Saturday night.
This weekend, Castro (19-1, 17 KOs) will take on his toughest opponent to date, former world title challenger Antonio Diaz (45-5-1, 29 KOs), on the “Latin Fury 8: Tijuana Thunder” card across the border at the Plaza de Toros.
Born and raised in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Castro has been boxing since the age of nine. After 70 bouts as an amateur, and a local championship, Castro turned pro in 2004 under Promociones del Pueblo.
“I didn’t like to go to tournaments,” says Castro. “I just wanted to turn pro.”
Fighting exclusively in Juarez for the first two years, Castro’s top two wins included a split decision over former world champ Cesar Soto (when Castro was but 4-0) and ten-round unanimous decision over former contender Hector Marquez, in 2006.
For the last three years, though, Castro has been featured on cards in Chihuahua, though he’s fought twice in the States. Back home, in Juarez, boxing has, virtually, been shut down due to the soaring crime rate.
“Drug people are killing each other,” says Castro. “But if you don’t have anything to do with drugs, you’re safe.”
But for a place to headline locally, Castro says the stranglehold on border boxing has not effected his career.
“My wife is a U.S. resident, so I decided to turn resident, too,” says Castro, who packed up and moved across the river to El Paso. “It’s very different . . . the atmosphere, the culture, and the language, but I feel very good about the move.
“I also thought I needed a different trainer, so I went to Louis Aguilar—I felt very comfortable with him.”
Since the move to El Paso, Castro’s biggest win has been a fourth round TKO of former contender Efren Hinojosa, and he has landed two spots on two Telefutura-televised cards.
Castro has one blemish on his record—a loss by disqualification in the first round to Jorge Reyna. After flooring his foe, a follow-through punch landed while Reyna was on his knees. The downed opponent was awarded the win.
“I know I beat this guy, so he is not better than me,” says Castro. “He never wanted the rematch because he knew I knocked him out.”
Castro has nearly knocked everyone out. His two distances fights are to aforementioned Soto and Marquez.
The Marquez fight is a highlight for Castro.
“Marquez was a tough fight,” he says. “I learned that some opponents could last the distance, so I make sure I prepare myself for that. I have to be ready for the distance.
“I’ve never felt tired in my fights and I’m ready to go 12 rounds, if necessary.”
Saturday night’s fight will be a 10-rounder, against his toughest opposition to date.
Though a former IBA titlist, Diaz came up short in his two attempts at a top shelf title, losing to Shane Mosley in 2000 and to Antonio Margarito in 2002. Diaz retired in 2005, but came back last year to win three straight bouts.
Castro’s match with Diaz was taken on short notice, after a fight last weekend in Chihuahua was unexpectedly scratched.
“I was disappointed by fighting in Chihuahua,” admits Castro, who’s felt for some time that he’s ready to break into the big time in the U.S. “I’ve wanted and desired an opportunity like this one—like Pay-Per-View—and against a great opponent like Diaz.
“I was 100 percent ready for the Chihuahua fight. Now, with one more week of training, I’m 110 percent ready. I hope everything goes well, win or lose, and I will do my best to put up a great fight. I know it will be exciting and I can’t wait to be in the ring.”
With a victory over Diaz, Castro’s team feels he’ll be a bonafide jr. welter contender with a world title shot within view.
“First I’m concentrating on Diaz,” says Castro, who is dedicating the fight to his newborn daughter, Melody. “ “My promoters will let me know when I’m ready—when they put a contract on the table.
“It will be great for me to be world champ, great for my family and for Juarez.”