News October 2007

15.10.07 Diaz quits...Diaz wins !

Juan Diaz

Juan Diaz overwhelmed namesake Julio to stand alone as the lightweight division's unifified champion.

The Baby Bull produced a non-stop display to add the IBF belt to the WBA and WBO straps he took into the ring at the Sears Center, Chicago.

The only disappointment, if there was one, on a night that had been tipped to produce one of the Fights of the Year, was the somewhat anti-climactic ending.

After absorbing eight rounds of constant punishment Julio stayed on his stool as the bell sounded for the ninth. There had been no visible decline in the previous session and despite swelling under both eyes he looked, from the outside at least, able to continue.

But it wasn't the case. The constant pummelling he had taken had clearly done greater damage beneath his straining skin and he said afterwards that his brother Joel pulled him out because he was getting hit too much.

He had a point. From the opening round when Juan made his intentions clear, he was on the receiving end of a performance that was pulsating, powerful and precise in equal measure.

The Baby Bull threatened to send the Punchstat computer into meltdown, so fierce and unwavering was his onslaught. Combinations of four, five and even six punches had the button-pushers doing double speed - and Julio desperatlely trying to stick to the gameplan he had come with.

Even switch-hitting couldn't stem the flow. Not only did it fail to flummox his foe, it was at times, the proverbial red rag to a Baby Bull. The southpaw stance took away his power on the counter and more worryingly, it left him square on, a static target.

At first it looked as if the two Diaz's would serve up the sort of middle-of-the-ring classic that Jose Luis Castillo and the late Diego Corrales once lit up the lightweight division with, but it wasn't to be.

Juan played his part, pressing forward and barely wasting a punch. Julio's body and head suffered in equal measure, his superior height simply making for a bigger target.

A left-right-left all landed flush on his chin in the first and by the second Juan was in complete control. The third saw a series of combinations all hit home, the left hook usually starting and ending the sustained attacks.

Julio did offer something back from the back foot, but it simply invited even more of the same. uan hunched himself to get inside where his not always short, but sharp bursts, usually went unanswered if not unnoticed.

In the sixth, Julio was warned for leading with the head on a rare occasion it wasn't being rocked back, while Juan continued to land with ease and efficiency.

The seventh and eighth offered little different, and indeed Juan was warned again for use of the head, the only time he ever looked like unsettling the Baby Bull from a menacing rhythm which few fighters in the world today can sustain.

Then came the retirement. Officially scored as a TKO in the first minute of the ninth it was greeted with whoops of delight from Juan Diaz, once he had realised Julio wasn't returning for more.

The beaten man could be seen telling everyone he was OK, and was still standing as Juan lept onto the ropes to salute the crowd - and a performance that not only established him as king of the lightweights, but was worthy of something a little more spectacular as its climax.

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