Diaz Steps Over Irwin To Invite A New Guy To Party On April 23rd

23.01.05 - By Wray Edwards: WBA World Champion Lightweight Juan Carlos Diaz, 21 (27-0, 13 KO's) defeated Canada's Billy Irwin, 36 (43-6, 30 KO's, WBA #10) at the Reliant Center in Houston Texas. ROUND ONE consisted mostly of Juan wailing away on Irwin's head and shoulders as it appeared that Billy was trying to rope-a-dope Diaz into exhaustion at which point he would come off the ropes to assume command. That was plan "A."

ROUND TWO was not much along (2:20) before Diaz swept a left at Irwin's brain pan which caused him to stagger to his right and take a knee. Referee Earl Morton looked him over and returned Billy to the contest. Plan "A" looks shaky.

Chico Corrales was the guest of honor back in the studio and gave a good account of himself as a commentator. He is also becoming very comfortable in front of the cameras and is easier to watch each time he appears in his friendly manner. He obviously has his eye on 140 and
surprised some by giving Joel Casamayor the nod as his most interesting opponent.

Through the next six rounds “Baby Bull” Diaz battered “The Kid” Irwin around the ring. Irwin looked as if he was attempting to qualify for this year's “Chuvalo Award” which is given to the Canadian who best demonstrates an ability to be beaten nearly to death while staying on his
feet. Roger Clemens was there to root for his fellow Houstonian.

ROUND NINE turned out to be the nail in the coffin of Irwin's boxing career. He had stated that “win or lose” he would retire after this fight. Every now-and-then during the fight, Billy would come off the ropes to test his theory about whether he had waited long enough for Diaz to
tire himself out. Each time he came to the center of the ring and started to initiate the take-over part of his fight-plan, Juan would promptly disabuse him of that notion. Oh oh!, no Plan "B"!

At 1:33 of Round Nine college student Diaz became the strict teacher as he brutalized Billy so badly that Earl stepped between them for the last time. Irwin claimed to be fighting an illness of some sort which he said reduced his performance. He said, “I thought I would win this fight.”

During the fight, 25 year-old NABO Lightweight Champion Ebo “The Extreme Machine” Elder (21-1, 13) was interviewed. Elder, who recently defeated Courtney Burton in a knockdown, drag-out fight at the Chumash Resort in Santa Ynez, California, hails from the Atlanta, Georgia area. It was no coincidence that Elder was there. Eastside Boxing has it on good authority that “The Extreme Machine” will be Juan Carlos' next opponent.

This fight, besides its promise of non-stop action, will mark the debut of ESPN's entry into the Pay Per View television market. In addition to their regular Friday Night Fight schedule, ESPN will present several high-profile boxing matches in the PPV format at a more reasonable
price than HBO or Showtime are accustomed to charging. Boxing fans are in for a real treat as ESPN launches its new PPV venture on April 23rd.

Ebo's style is well-suited to give Juan Carlos a real contest. Elder's ability to throw three, four and five punch combinations, will surely test Diaz' ability to deal with a fighter who can be right back “atcha”. Though Diaz was busy and fairly accurate (37%) against Irwin, he appeared to hit from the waist and not sit down on his punches. He was unable to KO Irwin. He had to settle for scuffing him up a bit.

If Diaz wants to move up and unify, he's going to have to develop a lot more power to go along with that zippy speed. A guy like Elder, who appears to have just as much ability to withstand punches as Irwin, brings the added ingredients of courageous heart and desperate will. Diaz will find Ebo more than willing to take his belt, and it won't be by breaking into his car to do it (Diaz belt was recently stolen – an omen perhaps?).

Any talk of Diaz running with the likes of Corrales, Morales or Barrera is premature until he proves that he can take on other fighters, at his current level, who have just as much ability and energy.

Several of ESPN's offerings lately have been head and shoulders above the action and quality of their competition. More than one of Showtime's and HBO's events in '04 were definitely not worth the PPV fee. Naturally, ESPN has decided that with the quality of fight entertainment on
their networks lately, it would be possible to expect the boxing public to shell out some dollars to see the bouts. This approach will enable ESPN to attract more top fighters and hire better venues for their expanded interest in the sport.

This writer predicts that 2005 will be a benchmark year for boxing as the sport begins to assert itself beyond the mediocre horse stable mentalities of King and Arum. It is only possible for a short time to successfully dictate to and con the boxing public with over-hyped and contrived events. Sooner or later other interests will assert themselves. There needs to be a declaration of independence from the musty, old Barnum and Bailey attitude, and a return to professional standards.

There is a difference between artificial, flag-waving hoopla and true professional excitement. Trinidad, Tszyu, Klitschko, Eddie Sanchez, Cintron, Barrera, Elder, J.C. Diaz, J.C. Gomez, Hatton, and many others will all lay siege to the old, tired, cult of personality promoters, and
emulate the independent spirit of gallant knights in single combat.

The day will come when we will not have to make obeisance to the Jabba the Hutt promoters in order to see great boxing.

Article posted on 24.01.2005

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