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Michelle Corrales-Lewis keeps memory of late husband alive

Updated April 10, 2020 - 9:22 am

Michelle Corrales-Lewis will be in front of the TV on Friday night when Showtime replays the epic title fight between her late husband, Diego Corrales, and Jose Luis Castillo.

She was ringside May 7, 2005, at Mandalay Bay Events Center when Corrales pulled himself up twice from the canvas in the 10th round and stopped Castillo moments later to unify the WBO and WBC lightweight titles.

Diego Corrales died May 7, 2007, at age 29 in a motorcycle accident in Las Vegas.

“I try to help keep his memory alive,” Corrales-Lewis said. “It was important to Diego to have a legacy, and it’s important to me to do everything I can to help his legacy stay alive.”

Corrales-Lewis continues to honor Diego Corrales through involvement with the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, for which she’s the CEO and president.

The 48-year-old Las Vegan was a casual boxing fan before meeting her future husband on New Year’s Eve 2000, but then developed a passion for the sport. They married exactly two years after they met.

“Boxers all love Michelle and keep in contact with her and will do things and will sacrifice for her,” said the museum’s founder, Rich Marotta, a veteran broadcaster who called Corrales’ win over Castillo. “She’s one of the strongest and most competent people I’ve ever had the privilege of working with”

Corrales beat Joel Casamayor via decision in 2004 to win the WBO super featherweight title and moved up to lightweight, beating Acelino Freitas later that year to win the WBO title and set the stage for his showdown with Castillo.

The fight, which will air at 7 p.m. Friday on Showtime, lives in boxing lore, with 10 rounds of unpredictable twists, turns and thrills that Corrales-Lewis vividly remembers.

“One of the knockdowns. … he looked right at me and he just kind of gave me a nod, kind of like, ‘I’m good.’ And that’s when he got up and knocked (Castillo) out,” she said. “Diego just had so much to prove with that fight, he was not willing to lose that fight. … He and Castillo both left a lot in the ring that night.”

Corrales died exactly two years after beating Castillo. Corrales-Lewis insists it was God’s will and that fate decided he die on the anniversary of his most significant victory. She distanced herself from boxing while she grieved and remarried in 2011, opting to hyphenate her last name as a tribute to Corrales and her two children with him.

“I think a part of me will stay married to Diego for life,” she said. “That’s why I keep the name — and proudly.”

Corrales was inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2013, rekindling Corrales-Lewis’ passion and connecting her with the museum. She accepted an award on his behalf and began fostering a working relationship with Marotta.

Marotta asked Corrales-Lewis to help plan the museum’s induction ceremony in 2014, and in 2015, she assumed a role on its board of directors. She was named its CEO and president in 2017 and has since used her extensive network of boxing contacts to help promote the Hall of Fame and former fighters.

All while remembering Corrales and the legacy he worked so hard to create.

“I’m passionate about it,” Corrales-Lewis said. “I really want to make a difference for all these guys, not just for Diego.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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