Body Blows: Diaz/Katsidis

Live professional boxing returns after a long layoff. Get ready for a lot of fights throughout the Fall, beginning with an excellent matchup tonight between Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis that has no chance of being disappointing. On the undercard is all-action fighter Jorge Rodrigo Barrios against former Olympic medalist Rocky Juarez.

Jorge Rodrigo Barrios vs. Rocky Juarez (Super Featherweight)
Referee: Rafael Ramos

Barrios has always been a gutsy and exciting fighter but I wish I could say the same for Rocky Juarez. As a result, I will be playing favorites in this fight. Nothing much of consequence happens in the first two rounds and I prefer to put the brunt of the inactivity blame on Juarez. The lull in the fight allows me the time to spot AC Slater sitting next to Evander Holyfield in the crowd. Turns out he’s the kind of guy that talks on his phone during the fight and waves at the people he’s talking to. Barrios is deducted a point in the third round for a low blow. It’s fair because he’s already been warned and his punches have been straying low. Maybe it will kickstart Juarez’ motor.

Juarez comes strong in the fourth and has a nice flurry that excites the crowd but never really puts Barrios in any danger of a knockout. Barrios has never been knocked out in his career. Barrios gets right back into the driver’s seat in the 5th, controlling the fight as he did in the second and third rounds. Juarez is landing accurate counter shots but Barrios is getting out first and landing more shots. Juarez needs to get more active. This fight is likely to go to the scorecards. While crisp, counter-punching is nice, it is not enough to win this fight on points.

Juarez, the Olympic silver medalist in 2000, was figured to be the better boxer than Barrios whereas Barrios is known for his punch output. Barrios is still throwing a lot of punches tonight but he is outboxing Rocky. That is not good news for Juarez. Barrios is deducted another point for a low blow in the ninth. Barrios needs to abandon body shots at this stage of the fight. He swarms Juarez for the final 45 seconds of the round and Juarez does his best to absorb the punches.

The Houston fans are trying to urge their hometown fighter on in the tenth. Juarez responds well and makes this fight exciting for the first time. Barrios is unrelenting with his output and Juarez is picking him off through all his openings. Barrios is getting nailed with counter shots but he is still swinging away instead of clinching, which may be the smarter tactic. Barrios survives the round. He threw 160 punches in the round, according to CompuBox. That’s too many for a fighter controlling the fight and already two points down due to low blows. Just ride it out, Jorge. More of the same in the 11th round. Juarez is dominating Barrios and the man won’t clinch. Barrios has a face splattered with blood, like someone squeezed a bloody sponge in front of his face. Juarez connects with a right as Juarez is throwing punches. It catches Barrios off balance and knocks him down. Barrios is sporting a crazy cut on the corner of his mouth that is literally causing blood to spurt out. Barrios gets up from the knockdown but the ring doctor comes in and stops the fight due to the cut. The scorecards are revealed and Juarez was actually ahead on two scorecards and the fight was even on the third. Interesting. And by that I mean: wrong.
Winner – Rocky Juarez by TKO at 2:55 of the 11th round.

That was a beautiful finish from Juarez but I just grew impatient waiting through nine rounds of nothing from Juarez. Still, he finished the fight and did so definitively. There is no room for controversy here as that cut was nasty. It was the right call to stop the fight

Juan Diaz vs. Michael Katsidis (IBO Lightweight Title Fight)
Referee: Laurence Cole

Both fighters are coming off of their first loss, and both were world title fights. Diaz lost to Nate Campbell and Katsidis fell to Joel Casamayor. This is an awesome matchup and the need for both men to come back with a win makes it even bettter.

Katsidis picks up a cut above his left eye in the second round. He bleeds more than Ric Flair so this is no surprise. Diaz wants to keep distance between himself and Katsidis whereas Katsidis keeps trying to fight inside. Diaz is boxing well but I don’t know if he can keep up this pace. It will be interesting to see if the momentum turns at all in the middle rounds.

Diaz looks way to crisp for Katsidis to compete with through five rounds. Katisidis is a brawler and loves the give-and-take style of fights but Diaz is simply out boxing him so far. Katsidis’ face is turning into Juan Diaz’ canvas. In an attempt to engage a brawl, Katsidis taunts Diaz a little bit but Juan doesn’t bite.

Each round has been a carbon copy of the previous round through eight rounds. Katsidis wants to brawl but Diaz just eludes him and boxes in circles around Katsidis. Katsidis rallies in the ninth but Diaz responds immediately with four unaswered shots of his own. Katsidis isn’t going away as he keeps on coming forward in the tenth. Diaz is staying in there and it doesn’t look like Katsidis has a chance to win at this rate. He needs to go balls out. Not that he isn’t trying. He’s giving a great effort but he just needs to give Diaz everything he has left in his tank in an attempt to score a knockout. Diaz exchanges with Katsidis in the final round. An awesome flurry over the final 45 seconds bring this fight to an end.
Winner – Juan Diaz by split decision (115-113 Katsidis, 116-112 Diaz, 115-113 Diaz)

Katsidis was given a lot of credit in the final half of the fight, according to at least one of the scorecards. Katsidis is always busy, and some judges skew towards activity, but Diaz was the superior boxer tonight and deserved the win. Albeit a close decision, the right man won the fight.

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