Last night in Houston, Texas, two popular and exciting fighters proved they still have something to offer the sport. Former unified lightweight king Juan Diaz, having his first fight in 17-months, went to war with Mexico’s tough and game Fernando Garcia, winning a fan-friendly affair by 9th-round TKO. While former top dog at 140-pounds, Mike Alvarado, also returning from a long layoff, beat Saul Corral via 3rd-round KO.
Diaz, who gave us a number of great fights when he was in his prime – see his first fantastic fight with Juan Manuel Marquez and his battle with Julio Diaz – pretty much looked to be the same force he once was. Still hittable but having a great engine and the stomach for going into the trenches, the 32-year-old thrilled his hometown crowd as he traded with the determined Garcia. Eventually, Diaz’ class and conditioning took over, with Garcia looking tired by the middle rounds. The fight looked as though it might go the distance, however. Instead, Diaz, known as “The Baby Bull,” with his body attack, wore his man down.
Garcia was busted up around the eyes and in the 9th a relentless Diaz barrage sent him to the canvas. Garcia bravely beat the count but the referee, Laurence Cole, had seen enough and, after a final assault from Diaz, the third man waved the fight off. The time was 2:24 of the 9th.
Diaz, now 41-4(20) will almost certainly continue with his comeback – one that followed surgery on a damaged rotator cuff – and he remains an exciting, value for money fighter. Can Diaz beat the best lightweights around today? It could be interesting finding out. The ultra-game Garcia is now 30-8-2(18)
35-year-old Mike Alvarado, boxing as a welterweight, ended a year layoff with a relatively straightforward KO over an outclassed Saul Corral, 19-7(10). Having his first fight since his disappointing third fight with Brandon Rios (an easy corner retirement win for Rios, over an out of shape and totally unfocused Alvarado) “Mile High” went straight on the attack.
Corral fired back as best he could, landing with some shots, but he was simply outgunned. Alvarado began visibly hurting his man in the 2nd and in the 3rd, he blasted Corral with his right hand. Almost gone, Corral somehow stayed up, for a while. Alvarado would not be denied though, and soon Corral was on the floor and out. The time was 1:25 of the 3rd.
Now 35-4(24) Alvarado – who owns wins over the likes of Rios (in their second fight) Breidis Prescott and has also given us big fights against Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez – says he is now fully focused and free of the drink problem he had at the time of the rubber-match with Rios. Last night’s fight didn’t tell us too much, but Alvarado, who can usually be relied upon to fight hard against whoever he is in with for as long as he can, could land another big fight if it is out there for him somewhere.