BY: Diane Bennett
Diamond Boxing hit the big city of Houston this weekend to take in the Juan Diaz vs Michael Katsidis clash held at the Toyota Center and shown on HBO Boxing After Dark. The weekend got off to a great start with the weigh-in held out side the Toyota Center on Friday. We were all greeted by the Golden Boy himself Oscar De La Hoya. Hitting the scales first was hometown hero Juan Diaz who weighed in at 134.5 Diaz was followed by Katsidis who also came in at 134.5 pounds.
Besides the appearance of De La Hoya the highlight of the weigh-in was the co – featured fight between Houston’s Rocky Juarez and the excitable Jorge Barrios. Barrios who was 5 to 6 pounds over weight a few days prior to the weigh-in needed to hit the scales fully naked and with a little prayer made the 130 pound limit. As for Juarez he needed two tries, on the first attempt we weighed in at 130.5 a half of pound over. So now it was Juarez turn to lose the draws, the second attempt was successful Juarez was able to trim the half of pound and make the 130 pound mark.
Kudos to De La Hoya who stood around after the weigh-in to take questions from the media and then walked around to sign autographs for the hundred or so fans which gathered around to take in the weigh-in.
Fight night was great as the city of Houston was hosting a major boxing event which it has not done in quit a while. Fans were lining up well prior to the 6 pm start time in anticipation of seeing their hometown hero’s Diaz and Juarez. With many other hometown boxers on the card it was sure to be a feast for the Houstonian boxing fan.
The home town boxers were pitching a shut out going 4 for 4 with Roque Moreno (making his pro debut),Jermell Charlo, Lanard Lane and Crystal Delgado taking the first four bouts. The streak ended when Junior Lightweight Elizar Renteria fought Olvin Mejia to a draw.
No fear Houston got it back on track when up and coming lightweight Hylon Williams scored a unanimous decision victory over Jessie Ortiz. All three judges scored the four round fight the same 40 – 36 for Williams.
As the stars entered the Arena and the fans started to pack in the Toyota Center the electricity was mounting. As Michael Buffer introduced George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Ron Artist ( Houston Rockets), Dancing With The Stars Mario Lopez and of course Oscar De La Hoya the fans went wild.
CHAVEZ vs LEDESMA
There was an extra treat for us boxing fans this night as former champion Jesus Chavez now at the age of 35, looking to get back into the title hunt took on Andres Ledesma in a 10 round lightweight bout. It took a while for Chavez to get into gear and then bombs away in the 7th Chaves clobbered Ledesma on the side of the head with a left hook and dropping him. Ledesma was able to recover and survive the round. However, Chaves was back at him in the 8th and in the 9th Chavez completed his mission scoring a TKO victory on a right upper cut at the 42 second mark of the 9th round.
JUAREZ vs BARRIOS
Rocky, Rocky, Rocky the screams for Rocky Juarez never stopped echoing throughout the Toyota Center. And Juarez did not let his fans down in true Rocky Balboa fashion Juarez bloodied and bruised Barrios and at the 2:55 second mark of the 11th round Juarez gave Barrios a headache connecting with a viscous right to the head, Barrios could not recover and the fight was stopped by the doctor with Barrios tooth hanging out and blood splattered all over him. Early on these two warriors traded shots with Barrios suffering a cut over his right eye in the second round. Barrios delivered several low blows throughout the bout which cost him point deductions in the 3rd and 9th rounds. After the point deduction in the 9th it appeared to excite Barrios who then kicked it up a notch. With Barrios knowing he needed a knock out to win he started to load up on power shots which lead to a classic 10th round with these two banging on each others heads for all 3 minutes of the round. Finally Juarez was able to conquer Barrios in the 11th and take the WBO Latino Junior Lightweight Title with him. Rocky Juarez dedicated this victory to his grand father who pasted away a year ago.
DIAZ vs KATSIDIS
This bout was for the IBO Lightweight Championship. Both Diaz and Katsidis were coming off their first losses of their careers. Both fighters desperately needed to win so the stakes were high. In the early going Diaz looked sharp and focused on executing his game plan which called for crisp combinations and avoiding brawling with Katsidis. Diaz did just that taking the lead through the first six rounds, Diaz connected on upper cuts various times throughout the first few rounds. By the time the second round ended Katsidis and his corner had to deal with a nasty cut above his eye. Throughout the bout Katsidis tried to lean on Diaz and bully him, Diaz would not stand for any of that and was able to control the action with his boxing skills. Katsidis however, held tough and was able to capture some of the middle rounds. Katsidis looked solid in rounds 7 and 8. Diaz arose again in the 9th and got back to boxing, picking very carefully his moments to open up an Katsidis, it was those quick flurries by Diaz which allowed him to finish strong. This when went to the score cards in the end it was Diaz eking out a split decision victory and capturing the IBO Lightweight Championship. Two judges had it 116- 112 & 115-113 Diaz while judge Glen Hamada scored it 115-113 for Katsidis.
Diamond Boxing scored the fight 116-112 for Diaz.
Post Fight Coverage
In the post fight dialogue the bruised Katsidis thought he had won however, was prepared for a hometown Diaz decision.
The delighted Diaz in his post fight remarks told the crowd that he was never hurt by Katsidis and had to be well prepared since he did not want Katsidis to put him on his butt in his own hometown.
In the post fight press conference Diaz said he has thankful to Oscar De La Hoya for saving him from the big haired guy getting chuckles from all who gathered in the press room. Both De La Hoya and Diaz will be watching next weeks Casamayer – Marquez fight as the winner being a potential next opponent for Diaz. De La Hoya also mentioned that they will look to have future bouts in Houston for Juarez and Diaz.
For full fight photos check out Diamond Boxings Photo Gallery: