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When the opening bell rang Saturday night and Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz (42-4, 21 KOs) met Cesar Vasquez (27-4, 16 KOs) in the middle of the ring at Casino Del Sol, the Grand Ballroom became a school house classroom and approximately 2,000 spectators were on hand to witness as class was in session.
Diaz began executing his lesson plan. Perhaps an analogy more fitting would be that of a school yard bully. All Diaz had left to do when Vasquez’s corner called a stop to it all two minutes and nine seconds into the eighth round, was to hold Vasquez upside down and shake the lunch money from his trunks.
In the seventh round, Diaz landed 20 power punches in rapid succession before Vasquez threw his very first desperation jab of the entire round. The bell saved Vasquez from the referee calling a stop to it and with Diaz scoring at will with power shots in the eighth, Vasquez’s corner did their job and advocated for their fighter by calling an end to it all.
In our post-fight interview, Diaz educated us further. Before retiring in 2010, the former four-time world champion was known for throwing punches in bunches and keeping a furious pace. What has replaced the original Diaz since he came out of retirement in 2013 and winning seven consecutive bouts, is an older, wiser, more efficient fighter. To preserve his surgically repaired rotator cuff, Diaz has resorted to a more methodical approach.
“This is a new and improved Juan ‘Baby Bull’ Diaz,” explained Diaz. “I used to throw 80 punches a round and I would throw them just to throw them. Now, I’m throwing between 60-70 punches.
“I’m more efficient and I see everything in the ring more clearly. I’m seeing punches coming in slow motion. In the past I had to throw more punches to offset the fact that I couldn’t use my jab as effectively to set up my other punches as good as I do now.”
Norm Frauenheim put it best when he wrote in an article for The Ring, “Baby Bull is still the nickname. But Juan Diaz has outgrown the baby. A more precise, more deliberate Diaz is the story of his comeback.”
Tucson served as the spring board, now Diaz wants a title shot to be his very next fight.
Bob Arum‘s Top Rank Promotions will decide who his next opponent will be, still, “Baby Bull” told us he doesn’t want more tune-up fights. Diaz wants his title shot by the end of 2016. During our line of questioning, he singled out WBA Lightweight Champion Anthony Crolla and WBO Lightweight title holder Terry Flanagan.
“I’ll talk to my promoters, Top Rank, and see what they got in store for me next,” he said.”But I don’t want to take another tune-up. I don’t want to take another one of these fights. I want whoever they (Top Rank) put in front of me (to be) a world champion. You have the guys from England. Anthony Crolla, Flanagan. Those guys are out there.
“It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll go down to England. I’ll go down there and fight them in their backyard. I don’t care. Right now, I feel like I’m the best lightweight in the world and I don’t think nobody could touch me in the weight division. I know I’m not the champion, so, I have to go into their backyard. I’ll do it. I feel ready. Any champion. Bring them on. They’re not ready for me.”
Diaz does have his preference.
“It doesn’t matter to me who it is, but fan friendly? Who I think draws the most attention is Anthony Crolla. He’s a guy that comes forward, throws a lot of punches. I come forward. I think that would be a hell of a war. So, COME ON ANTHONY CROLLA!”
Diaz can see the end of the road coming for his career as well. Owning a trucking company, a college degree mounted at home, as well as having been accepted to Dartmouth and citing his two young sons, he says all that’s left for him to achieve in his boxing career is to establish a legacy for his family.
“My dream is to become a five time world champion, defend it a few times and ride off into the sunset as a champion.”
The Best of the Night: It was a winning night for fighters from Tucson. Every prospect from Tucson had fans on their feet at Casino Del Sol. The only Tucson fighter to suffer a loss was Mike “The Cobra” Martinez (0-1) at the hands of Jesse “The Mexican” Ruiz (2-3-2). Martinez had a huge following in attendance, evident by the massive number of fans wearing his “Cobra” logo t-shirts.
The resounding crowd favorite undercard of the night was one that promoter of the events of the evening Michelle Rosado of Raging Babe Promotions told us at AllSportsTucson.com would be the bout that would steal the show nearly a month in advance.
We were treated to a true slugfest between Alfonso Olvera (8-2, 3 KOs) and Jose Maruffo (8-5-2, 0 KOs). The two attacked each other so viciously to start the televised action that fans all over the venue were on their feet cheering and high-fiving each other at the end of the first round. Both fighters sustained the same intensity throughout their entire bout.
A knockout just two minutes and eight seconds into the start of the entire night of boxing got the crowd frenzied and wanting more. Alexander Besputin (4-0, 4 KOs) landed a left hand to the body of Kevin Womack (7-11-3, 2 KOs) sending him to the ground grimacing in agony. It served to give us a glimpse at world class trainer Egis Klimas’ newest addition to his stable of fighters.
Among them, the current unified WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) will face Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KO) on HBO PPV in November . Kovalev has defended his title eight times, is renowned for his punching power (84 percent of his victories are by KO) and it’s safe to say Klimas sees similar traits in his super welterweight Besputin. To insiders of the boxing business, Klimas’ eye for talent is respected world-wide. Seeing him in Besputin’s corner after the quick KO, raised a lot of eyebrows to those of us in press row.
The Worst of the Night: Those of us in press row were really looking forward to seeing a bout between Egor Mekhontsev (11-0-1, 7 KOs) and Alexander Johnson (16-4-1, 7 KOs). Mekhontsev, with an undefeated record and Olympic Gold Medal to his name from the London games, we thought would show us a hint of what was to come in his pro fight future. Instead, to Johnson’s credit, Mekhontsev was never able to set his game plan in motion and the Russian’s record suffered its first blemish.
Johnson frustrated Mekhontsev for the entire bout and they fought to a majority draw (78-74, 76-76, 76-76). The score card announcement drew an enormous reaction of disappointment from the crowd. They simply didn’t understand how the first judge saw such a huge difference between the fighters. Both fighters mostly came to the middle of the ring and tied each other up at the beginning of each round throughout the bout. The referee would separate the two, they’d exchange glancing blows and tie each other up again. Overall, the bout was a disappointment.
Now Tucson fight fans wait for the details regarding the first title defense for the newly crowned WBO Featherweight Champion of the World and hometown favorite Oscar Valdez.
Jose Roman Jr. was born a Wildcat fan, lifetime fanhood was solidified when he was able to meet Tedy Bruschi, Sean Harris, Brandon Sanders, Chuck Levy and Ontiwaun Carter as a sixth grader. Having served 10 years in the armed forces and been deployed all over the world, he’s still managed to make it to every Arizona home football game, bowl game and at least one away game for the last 12 years. Now combining his love of writing with his love of all things sports, Jose is proud and honored to join AllSportsTucson.com as a writer.