LAS VEGAS – Former lightweight titleholder Julio Diaz will fight his slip into gatekeeper status kicking and screaming as evidenced by the effort he put up in losing a unanimous decision to undefeated Shawn Porter on Thursday night in a ballroom of the MGM Grand.
The 10-round fight, which was televised on Fox Sports 2, was a rematch. In December, Porter and Diaz fought to a draw that most felt was edged by the veteran fighter. Perhaps people leaned Diaz’s way because they were shocked at the tremendous effort he put forth as well as taking into consideration the fact that most had written him off following a bad knockout loss to Kendall Holt the year before.
Diaz gave his career new life in the draw with Porter and subsequent close loss to Amir Khan in March. In the meantime, Porter easily decisioned unbeaten but lightly regarded Phil Lo Greco earlier in May.
Porter’s biggest deficiency is his lack of real punching power. Though he landed more than several clean power punches, Diaz was never in real trouble and usually responded with good shots of his own.
The body punching between the two was the highlight, as both dug well-placed shots to each other’s rib cages with regularity. It was a testament to both guys’ conditioning that they never flinched when absorbing a shot to the midsection.
The fight more or less took on a routine as Diaz didn’t do enough to be considered in the fight as Porter out worked him. The judges agreed with this sentiment, scoring the fight 97-93 twice and 98-92.
What the fight proved is that Diaz isn’t a too fighter anymore but will still be trouble for anyone trying to establish themselves as a legitimate contender. The Porter rematch being logged as his fiftieth fight as a professional has one wondering if he wants to continue if that’s the role he will play moving forward.
As far as Porter, it still is a question as to whether he will become a future champion. He’s a dedicated fighter but lacks the punching power that will earn respect from tougher opponents as he climbs the ladder. Power isn’t always a necessity as evidenced by the success of that bight’s blow by blow guy Paul Malignaggi, but we don’t yet know if Porter’s other tools will carry him to glory.
Super middleweight contenders Badou Jack and Marco Antonio Periban fought to an entertaining ten-round majority draw.
Periban got off to a good start, using his better volume to build an early lead. Jack was a bit more judicious with his punching but as the rounds wore on, he began landing big right hands that began to slow Periban down.
By the middle rounds, Periban was out of gas but always returning fire. Jack had more on his punches as Periban wasn’t sitting down on his shots. Jack always landed the cleaner punches, but Periban took them well.
The fight hinged on the tenth round and Periban was able to box smartly from the outside. Periban won the tenth on all three scorecards, swinging the fight even 95-95 on two cards and 96-94 for Periban, making it a majority draw.
Philadelphia junior middleweight Julian Williams was unlucky to clash heads with Los Angeles’ Hugo Centeno Jr. in the fourth round of their intriguing bout, forcing it to end in a no contest.
Williams was in control, reddening the face of Centeno early. Williams landed a shot to Centeno’s nose that backed him up in the opening round. Centeno did well boxing from the outside but was out hustled up until the time of the stoppage.
The two clashed heads in the fourth, bringing the fight to an end as a no contest, much to the dismay of Williams and the crowd.
It wasn’t his best performance, but junior middleweight Jermall Charlo eventually got the job done against game Rogelio De La Torre, stopping him in the eighth and final round.
Charlo (16-0, 12 KOs), of Houston, Texas, had some issues with the much smaller De La Torre, who came to win despite his opponent status. De La Torre landed some decent combinations but was just too outsized to do any damage.
As the fight wore on, Charlo’s single power punches added up, and the accumulation eventually wore down De La Torre.
Charlo took the fight without much notice and came in slightly overweight. He expects to fight at 154 but sees a move to middleweight in the not so distant future.
Fellow Houstonian De La Torre (10-4, 6 KOs) eventually hit the canvas in the final round, prompting referee Tony Weeks to stop it at the 1:50 mark.
2012 US Olympic middleweight Errol Spence Jr. (8-0, 7 KOs) of Dallas kept the win train rolling as he stopped Mexico City’s Jesus Tavera (5-4, KO) at 2:33 of the first round.
Spence broke his opponent down with a fierce body attack, putting him down with a combination before finishing him with a follow-up barrage that sent him down a second time.
Diego De La Hoya lived up to the famous surname in his pro debut, stopping Luis Cosme in the third round of the televised opener.
The cousin to Oscar, Diego displayed some tremendous hand speed and combination punching, with his arsenal featuring a wicket uppercut. When Cosme was hurt in the third, De La Hoya swarmed him for the finish with a patented Golden Boy finish. Robert Byrd called a halt at 53 seconds of the round.
Akron, Ohio lightweight Robert Easter Jr. (7-0, 7 KOs) needed just 2:43 to stop Lance Williams (6-2, 6 KOs) of Muscatine, Iowa.
A pair of 2012 U.S. Olympians opened up the card in separate bouts. Los Angeles heavyweight Dominic Breazeale (7-0, 7 KOs) scored a third round TKO of John Hill (6-3, 5 KOs) of Charleston, West Va., while Cleveland’s Terrell Gausha (6-0, 4 KOs) needed less than a round to stop Bruce Runkle (4-3-1) of Wheeling, West Va., in a middleweight bout.
Photos / Naoki Fukuda