How losing to a top prospect helped Walter Castillo gain a following with his fan-friendly fireworks

Some things you don’t mind losing, like that beer gut, your virginity and the collected works of Seven Mary Three. Walter Castillo can add his April clash with highly regarded 140-pound prospect Amir Imam to the list.

Walter Castillo

Walter Castillo, right, found success attacking Amir Imam's body early in their April clash before losing a 10-round unanimous decision.

Yeah, Walter Castillo (26-3, 19 KOs) dropped a unanimous decision to Imam this past spring at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, but he’ll argue that he gained more than he lost, earning valuable exposure and most likely some new fans in the Nicaraguan fireball’s second U.S. bout.

His loss ended up being a win for his career, in several respects.

This is because Castillo acquitted himself well in defeat, getting right in the skilled, cagey Imam’s face, forcing his way inside on his lanky opponent and working the body like a chef attempting to tenderize a particular tough side of beef.

Castillo lost momentum in the second half of the fight, though, as Imam pulled away for the victory, kenneling a particularly feisty underdog.

“I felt good. I just wasn’t 100 percent prepared to fight,” Castillo says of his scrap with Imam, speaking through a translator. “I underestimated him a little bit.”

Still, Castillo’s crowd-friendly, human-cannonball-style approach was showcased to American audiences for the first time, and he proved himself to be the kind of fighter boxing fans seldom grow tired of seeing. He's both a glutton for and an administrator of punishment who’d seemingly rather stop breathing than stop coming forward.

After rebounding from the Imam loss against Ammeth Diaz in July, when he hammered the Panamanian into submission in a three-round TKO win, Castillo returns to TV against Japan’s Keita Obara (15-1, 14 KOs) on Saturday night (NBCSN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

Castillo says he’s still going to come at the other dude in the ring like a moth to a bonfire, but plans to do so a bit more tactically in the wake of the Imam loss.

“I gained a lot of experience from that fight,” Castillo says. “I’m coming into this fight with better preparation, a lot stronger. It’s going to be the same style in the ring, but now I’ve been able to advance my technical skills.”

Castillo’s been better able to hone said skills, he says, by relocating to Miami to train.

“Realistically speaking, everything is better here,” he notes on how the U.S. compares to his homeland for fight preparations. “The gyms are better, there’s more sophisticated training, more sophisticated trainers, stronger sparring partners, stronger opponents. Overall, you’re kind of obligated to become better here.”

Castillo says he’s taken this obligation seriously.

“I’ve become far superior to the fighter you guys have seen, especially the one in the Amir Imam fight,” he contends. “You guys will see that now with the new set of technical, tactical skills we’ve acquired. You’re going to see a different Walter Castillo.”

Well, one thing will remain unchanged.

“It’s going to be the same fireworks in the ring,” Castillo pledges. “As always.”

For full coverage of Castillo vs Obara, visit our fight page.

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