Boxing

Juan Diaz smacks down Michael Katsidis; Rocky Juarez cuts up Jorge Barrios in 11th Round TKO

By: Phil Santos – Overhandright.com - A win equals a quality victory, over a tough opponent, an alphabet strap (The Vacant IBO Lightweight Championship) and would be a huge step toward securing a spot among the elite at 135 pounds. A loss means a two fight winless streak and a major step back in a career that seemed full of promise. What’s intriguing is that these statements hold true for both fighters. It’s truly a beautiful thing for fight fans when the stars align and two young, fearless, combatants with so much at stake square off to set the score straight. This bout would pit the fast hands and relentless pressure of Juan Diaz against the power punching and warriors spirit of Michael Katsidis..

Both Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis suffered brutal, though possibly brief, setbacks to their sparkling young careers in their last fights. Diaz was taken apart by Nate Campbell in a split decision loss which cost him his undefeated record, the IBF, WBA and WBO World Titles and the distinction of being the best lightweight in the world. Two weeks later the only other man who had a right to lay claim to that title, Joel Casamayor, was busy scoring a dramatic TKO win over Michael Katsidis. And so the plot thickened. Two seasoned veterans emerged as the crème of the division’s crop leaving the best from the next generation to sort out their place in line.
Through 4 rounds Diaz-Katsidis closely resembled Diaz-Freitas with the heavier handed Katsidis unable to find any rhythm between the swarming Diaz nonstop punching. Katsidis early efforts to bull rush Diaz, and apply pressure by leaning and banging on the inside, were turned away by effective punches on the inside that drove Katsidis back. By the 5th round Katsidis was clearly more tentative giving Diaz, the superior boxer, more room to punch and greatly reducing his odds of victory to no more than a punches chance.

In the 8th round Katsidis found some success landing more effective punches and looked as if he found a second wind. The early work Diaz had put in was still apparent given Katsidis refusal to press the action. Instead it was Diaz who took the lead with Katsidis countering nicely. The 9th played out similarly with Katsidis narrowly winning the round on my card with volume punching despite eating some stiff shots.

Juan Diaz regained control of the fight in round 10. Katsidis never cracked and kept attempting to mount an attack but it was Diaz snapping off stiff shots and continuously pressing the fight. Diaz dominated the 11th battering Katsidis who at times did little more than lean on Diaz and absorb steady flurries. Again in the 12th Diaz snuffed out any offensive effort put forth by Katsidis by punishing him between punches and outclassing him during every exchange.

My scorecard read 117-111 in favor of Juan Diaz who thoroughly dominated the lesser skilled Michael Katsidis. The judges saw it 116-112, 115-113 for Diaz and 115-113 for Katsidis reaffirming my belief that it is mandatory for at least one judge to smoke crack before scoring the fight.

In undercard action Rocky Juarez battled back from an early deficit to stop Jorge Barrios in the 11th. The unorthodox Barrios controlled the early rounds, despite the judges baffling scoring, and outworked Juarez while landing effective, looping punches. After commanding nearly every round Barrios began to lose steam during round 10. Feeling that the fight maybe slipping through his fingers, after point deductions in rounds 3 and 10 for low blows, Barrios threw an endless stream of punches but had nothing behind them. Juarez rallied and found a home for stinging combinations between wild and increasing slower flurries from Barrios.

The 11th spelled the end for Barrios as Juarez continued where he left off in the 10th. Juarez proceeded to pick Barrios apart before finally gruesomely splitting his lip. Barrios immediately began spewing blood as a piece of mouth flapped in the breeze. The ringside physician took a look and waived off the action.

Rocky Juarez improves to 28-4 (20) with the win and more importantly remains a viable contender at Jr. Lightweight. Jorge Barrios showed improvement defensively and did a nice job out-boxing the supposedly superior technician for most of the fight. He was clearly gassed toward the end and Juarez exposed him dropping him to 47-4-1 (34) and relegating him to gatekeeper status. The judges’ scorecards read 95-93, 96-92 and 94-94. I saw the fight 95-92 for Barrios at the time of the stoppage.

Article posted on 07.09.2008



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