By Jake Donovan
One year ago almost to the day, the 2011 Fight of the Year was produced in Tokyo, Japan. This time around, a strong candidate for 2012 Upset of the Year emerged from that very same city as veteran spoiler Gamaliel Diaz unseated reigning 130 lb. titlist Takahiro Aoh on the road Saturday evening.
Scores were 115-111 and 114-112 (twice) in their 12-round bloodbath. Diaz was trailing on two of the three cards through eight rounds, but rode a strong finish in the final four rounds to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Both fighters suffered massive gushers that even left the referee drenched in blood in a gore-filled fight befitting of the Halloween season. Aoh began strong but was unable to shift into second gear once momentum swung in the opposite direction. The opposite held true for Diaz, who gained motivation – if not a greater sense of urgency – from the sight of his own blood.
Diaz suffered a cut in the ninth round, but never to the point of being denied an epic rally. The well-traveled Mexican knew what was at stake and dug deep to pull out the improbable victory.
The beginning of the end for Aoh came in the championships rounds, when he was drilled dead center in his grill with a straight right hand. The 28-year old began to fall apart, giving away his slim lead as Diaz swept the final four rounds.
The win is by far the biggest of Diaz’ 14-year career as he improves to 37-9-2 (17KO).
Aoh suffers his first loss in more than three years as he falls to 23-3-1 (10KO). The defeat ends a near two-year reign as 130 lb. titlist, which he won from Vitali Tajbert and made three successful defenses.
Diaz’ lone other fight at the title level was an 8th round stoppage loss at the hands of Jorge Linares in Dec. '07. He also suffered a TKO against Humberto Soto in an interim title fight in Oct. ’08. Until Saturday, his biggest career achievements were upset wins over then-unbeaten prospects Robert Guerrero (Dec. ’05) and Elio Rojas (July ’07).
This particular fight will go down as the first page to which he’ll turn in his personal scrapbook.
One year ago, the Land of the Rising Sun produced the best fight of 2011 when Akira Yaegashi dethroned visiting titlist Pornsawan Porpramook in the 10th round of what became the best strawweight fight of all time.
Earlier this year in Tokyo, Yaegashi again landed in a Fight of the Year contender. This time around, it was on the losing end as he dropped a heartbreaking decision to countryman Kazuto Ioka in their alphabet unifier.
Diaz’ win over Guerrero was regarded as among the biggest upsets of 2005. This one will gain similar if not greater attention during awards season.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: