In a battle for the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) World Jr. Lightweight championship, former champion Joseph Diaz and undefeated contender Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov fought to a highly competitive twelve round majority draw on Saturday night at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, CA. Diaz, who was the IBF world champion prior to the bout, lost his crown on the weight scale on the day prior to the fight due to coming in nearly four pounds over the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight limit. This created a scenario where the championship was only on the line for Rakhimov, who came in under the Jr. Lightweight limit.
For twelve rounds, the two fighters engaged in a tactical, but entertaining battle that saw the ebb and flow of the combat shift several times throughout. Diaz was most effective during periods where he took the initiative and got his punches off first. This was not a consistent pattern throughout the fight however, as Rakhimov had several rounds where he was able to keep the former world champion on the defensive and land combinations highlighted by some effective body work. Diaz was able to seemingly regain the momentum in the late rounds and at the conclusion of the twelve round world championship bout the near even combat that took place in the ring resulted in a majority draw on the official scorecards as two of three official judges scored the fight identically 114-114, while the third judge felt Diaz had done enough to win by a narrow margin of seven rounds to five or 115-113 in points. The draw leaves the IBF world championship at 130lbs. vacant. Joseph Diaz advances to 31-1-1, with 15 Knockouts. Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov advances to 15-0-1, with 12 Knockouts.
Also On This Card:
Undefeated Jr. Middleweight contender Brian Castano successfully made the transition from top contender to world champion by scoring a dominant twelve round unanimous decision over WBO Jr. Middleweight world champion Patrick Teixeira to win the world championship. Castano applied nearly relentless pressure on Teixeira from the opening bell and never really allowed the champion the space to get himself into a consistent rhythm as he outworked and out fought Teixeira over the twelve round distance to earn a convincing unanimous decision and the WBO crown. Official scores were 120-108, 119-109, and 117-111 all in favor of Brian Castano. Brian Castano advances to 17-0-1, with 12 Knockouts. Patrick Teixeira falls to 31-2, with 22 Knockouts.
Super-Middleweight Shane Mosley Jr. scored a fifth round stoppage over a very “Game” Cristian Olivas. Mosley was very tactical in his approach Boxing behind a consistent jab, using lateral movement, and mixing his offense to the head and body. It was the work Mosley did with his jab that caused accumulated swelling of Olivas’ right eye and this is what ultimately led to the fight being stopped at the end of round five as Olivas’ right eye was nearly swollen shut. Shane Mosley Jr. advances to 17-3, with 10 Knockouts. Cristian Olivas falls to 20-8, with 17 Knockouts.
Jr. Featherweight contender Ronny Rios scored a lopsided ten round unanimous decision over Oscar Negrete. The story of this fight was Rios’ poise and consistency in knowing when to let his hands go as well as making his work to Negrete’s body the focal point of his offense as he outworked Negrete over ten rounds to earn the unanimous decision victory. Official scores were: 100-90, (On two scorecards) and 99-91 in favor of Ronny Rios. Ronny Rios advances to 33-3, with 16 Knockouts. Oscar Negrete falls to 19-3-2, with 7 Knockouts.
Unbeaten Light-Heavyweight prospect Bektemir Melikuziev scored a third round stoppage over Morgan Fitch. Melikuziev systematically broke Fitch down with steady pressure and power punches. Melikuziev was credited with a knockdown in round three when his glove seemed to touch the canvas. This was followed by Fitch going down a second time from what appeared to be a low blow, but the fight was stopped by Referee Jack Reiss as Fitch seemed to not want to continue. Official time of the stoppage was 2:08 of round three. Bektemir Melikuziev advances to 7-0, with 6 Knockouts. Morgan Fitch falls to 19-5-1, with 8 Knockouts.
Lightweight Dalis Kaleiopu successfully made his professional debut by scoring a thir round knockout over Eduardo Sanchez. Official time of the stoppage was was :48 of round three. Dalis Kaleiopu advances to 1-0, with 1 Knockout. Eduardo Sanchez falls to 2-4, with 0 Knockouts.
Featherweight Azat Hovhannisyan scored an eighth round stoppage of Enrique Bernache. Official time of the stoppage was :35 of round eight. Azat Hovhannisyan advances to 19-3, with 16 Knockouts. Enrique Bernache falls to 24-13, with 14 Knockouts.
Undefeated Featherweight Victor Morales remained unbeaten by scoring an eight round unanimous decision over Rodrigo Guerrero. Official scores were: 80-72 (On all three official scorecards) in favor of Victor Morales. Victor Morales advances to 14-0, with 7 Knockouts. Rodrigo Guerrero falls to 26-10-2, with 16 Knockouts.
The main takeaway from this card, which was promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, in this observer’s eyes is there will likely be s second chapter to the story of Joseph Diaz and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov after such a closely fought battle that neither fighter emerged as standing out clearly from the other. Perhaps a question that should be asked is whether this fight might take place in the 135lb. Lightweight division given the difficulty Diaz had in making weight for this fight, whether Diaz will want to attempt to make 130lbs. again to attempt to regain his championship, or even perhaps if former champion Tevin Farmer, who Diaz beat for the IBF world championship in one of the best fights of 2020 might enter the equation if Diaz chooses to enter the Lightweight division going forward.
As Boxing continues to deal with the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic, it is uncertain as to how quickly this question might be answered and how long the IBF Jr. Lightweight world championship will remain vacated. Despite the ongoing circumstances, there remains no shortage of compelling stories for Boxing fans to keep an eye on as 2021 progresses. This story is certainly among them.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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