Photos by Sumio Yamada
JOEL DIAZ, GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX, DANIEL PONCE De LEON KO winners
New faces Joel Diaz and Guy Robb provided the most exciting fight of the weekend in the U.S., a sizzling junior lightweight contest that swayed first one way, then the other, before Diaz’s superior punching power prevailed in a seventh-round stoppage victory.
Diaz is what the boxing trade calls a “fun” fighter. His bouts are highly entertaining and his hit-or-be-hit style has been compared to that of John Molina, the lightweight contender who has produced some big-punching performances. I can see the similarity.
A criticism of Molina is that he will accept punishment for the chance to land his bombs. Diaz, too, can be hit a bit too easily for comfort, but his exciting style makes him an extremely TV-friendly fighter. Diaz is only 19, so there is time for technical improvements.
Sometimes, boxing observers want it both ways. A classy but careful boxer is appreciated for his scientific approach but criticised for caution; a slugger type is hailed for giving his all but reproved for being excessively reckless. Fighters must sometimes wonder what they have to do to keep the critics happy.
Diaz relies on his hitting power getting the job done. Robb was game and capable but Diaz hit too hard. I liked Diaz’s fighting instincts. Dropped by a right hand in the second round, he just came slamming back to have Robb down twice in the third. Referee Vic Drakulich made a perfectly timed intervention. Robb, nose bloody, marked under the eyes, was starting to wilt and Diaz was coming on strongly.
Guillermo Rigondeaux’s sixth-round win over Rico Ramos in the ShoBox junior featherweight championship main event saw the Cuban fighter close the show suddenly just when a long, rather dull fight seemed likely. I believe a clash of heads might have disorientated Ramos, and almost immediately after we had the incident in which Rigondeaux pulled down on Ramos’s head and threw a punch, bringing a caution from referee Joe Cortez. Although given time to recover, Ramos was quickly overwhelmed — Rigondeaux is very good at closing in and finishing a fight when he knows an opponent is in trouble.
Rigondeaux was so obviously the superior fighter that there was no controversy despite the holding-and-hitting episode. Ramos never got into the fight after Rigondeaux dropped him in the first round. Rigondeaux strikes hard and fast with the left hand from his southpaw stance and he is adept at making an opponent miss and countering sharply. Ramos was understandably anxious not to make a mistake, but his hesitancy allowed Rigondeaux to box at his own pace and to dictate the course of the contest. Rigondeaux’s left-hand barrage in the sixth was impressive, especially, of course, the finishing shot to the body, and he is going to be difficult to beat.
Daniel Ponce De Leon’s punch-output was far too much for comparative novice Omar Estrella in their all-Mexican featherweight bout. I didn’t think that Estrella’s promoter Erik Morales or trainer Raul “Jibaro” Perez — both world champions — would have put their man into this fight unless they were confident that he stood a good chance of pulling off the upset. Either they overestimated Estrella’s ability or the fighter simply didn’t perform up to their expectations.
Estrella takes a good punch and he can hit with the right hand, but he was a disturbingly easy target for the southpaw De Leon’s left hands through the middle. It was as if De Leon couldn’t miss with the left, while the veteran was also banging to the body and throwing bursts of punches down and up. Estrella had his one, shining moment in the second round when he dropped De Leon with a right hand, but otherwise the fight was a rout. Estrella seemed to me to be trying to time De Leon for the right hand, but he was in the ring with a threshing machine and he just couldn’t keep taking punch after punch indefinitely. De Leon looked as good as I have ever seen him, absolutely relentless.