Diaz takes IBO lightweight belt via split decision


Posted at Sep 07 2008 01:10 PM | Updated as of Sep 07 2008 09:10 PM

Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz went for 12 rounds against Michael "The Great" Katsidis of Australia and was crowned new International Boxing Organization lightweight champion in their "No Retreat, No Surrender" main event clash Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Ringside judge Gale Van Hoy scored the bout 116-112 while Levi Martinez had it 115-113, all in favor of the Houston fighter. Judge Glen Hamada, meanwhile, scored it 115-113 for Katsidis.

Diaz was virtually unscathed throughout the fight.

The Australian suffered a gash under the right eye and fought the remaining rounds with his right eye nearly closed after a barrage of punches from Diaz connected to the Australian's face.

Diaz now has 34 wins against a single loss with 17 victories coming by way of knockout.

Katsidis, on the other hand, suffered his second loss in 23 fights. He has 20 KOs.

Before the fight, “The Golden Boy” Oscar de La Hoya promised Katsidis that the judges chosen for his fight against hometown hero Diaz will be fair in their IBO lightweight title fight.

Katsidis assured of fair fight

De La Hoya reportedly stepped in to assure Katsidis of a fair shake when it was noted that two of the officials were Diaz’ fellow Texans. One of them is referee Laurence Cole, who was actually suspended earlier this year for telling a fighter he was ahead on points during a fight. 

During a final pre-fight press conference, the trainer/manager of Katsidis, Brendon Smith, said he wasn’t worried about who the officials were. Sports Nut, the Australian Web site quoted Smith as saying “the judges will be judged by the boxing fraternity and the millions of HBO viewers.”

Diaz is promoted by de La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. According to Smith, the six-time world champion assured him that there would be no problems and that they were “very fair promoters and the Texas Commission was a very fair group.”

Katsidis said earlier he was “a lion entering the lion’s den” in reference to Diaz who is from Houston and is certain to get the full backing of an expected crowd of 10,000 at the Toyota Center.

Bloody co-main event

In the card's co-main event, a bloody match blood spilled out of Argentina's Jorge Barrios as he went down the canvas following a right hook by Texas' Rocky Juarez in their World Boxing Organization Latino junior lightweight championship.

Juarez, who fought out of the blue corner, knocked out Barrios 2:55 in the 11th round of the 12-rounder.

The two fighters slugged it out most of the 11 rounds but in the end, it was clear that Juarez outclassed the visiting opponent.

Juarez now has a win-loss record of 28-4 with 20 wins via knockout. Barrios, on the other hand, went down to 47-4 with 34 victories via KO.

Earlier, Jesus "El Matador" Chavez stopped visiting Andres Ledesma of Colombia via technical knockout in the 9th round of their lightweight clash, also at the Toyota Center.

Referee Bobby Gonzalez counted Ledesma out 42 seconds into the round following a right hook by Chavez.

Chavez, of Austin, also floored Ledesma in the 7th round.

With his win, Chavez improved his win-loss record to 44-4 with 31 victories coming by way of KO. Ledesma, meanwhile, dropped to 14-1-1 win-loss-draw slate. He has nine KOs.