By Cliff Rold
A dark shadow fell over the ring on Wednesday night at the Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas as 25-year hometown Welterweight favorite Oscar Diaz (26-3, 12 KO) collapsed in the rest period after ten rounds against 28-year old Delvin Rodriguez (23-2-1, 14 KO). Details were sketchy as the bout, ESPN2’s Wednesday Night Fights main event, went off the air but the visuals implied emergency conditions.
It had not been a remarkably violent bout, the frightening ending serving as a reminder that the dangers of Boxing are inherent and ever present.
Each man began the bout intense and deliberate behind the jab but it was the faster, taller Rodriguez whose jab was making better contact. Diaz landed a quick right hook to the hip to little affect just before the minute mark and seconds later the two would trade rights to the head. Each mans hands moved more as the round wound to a close, but the first would be little more than a feeling out session.
Another tactical would follow in the second with Rodriguez again getting the better of the action, controlling distance with his jab and landing a nice left hook-right hand combination with about a minute to go. Diaz charged in the final ten seconds, bulling Rodriguez into the ropes and winging into the body but went right back to the end of Rodriguez’s jab as the third round got underway. An early flurry was punctuated by a Rodriguez left hook. Near the two-minute mark, he’d add a counter right over the top of a Diaz jab. Just past the midway point, a Rodriguez left hook sent Diaz stumbling backwards to the ropes where Diaz would eat another right hand, rolling his head just enough to take some of the steam off the shot.
Round four started with a right hand-left uppercut at range from Rodriguez and he looked well on his way to controlling yet another three minutes before a big Diaz right hand rocked Rodriguez, whose back turned for a moment and he fell towards the ropes. He stayed on his feet and Diaz gave chase, unable to land the extra bomb he needed finish or at least drop his man. As Rodriguez gathered himself, he began asserting the jab and the brief advantage of Diaz was volleyed back across the net.
Rodriguez stayed in serve through the fifth, peppering Diaz with the jab and briefly stunning him with a left jab-right uppercut combination. Perhaps recognizing that he might be behind by as many as four rounds, Diaz appeared to step his pressure up in the sixth, landing a solid right and closing the gap Rodriguez wanted to create with his long left lead.
A big right hand from Rodriguez in the first minute of the seventh brought a charge of offense from Diaz who chased Rodriguez to the ropes attacking the body. The pace slowed minus a long, grazing Rodriguez right until the final minute when Diaz was able to land three shots to the body against the ropes. Rodriguez fired back with the right but Diaz kept the bout in close quarters on the way to the bell.
A nasty swelling purpled under the right eye of Diaz as he continued to take jabs and rights in round eight. While he was able to get his own right home occasionally, it was Rodriguez’s ability to fire back right away that kept Diaz from landing any follow ups to his best work. As the ninth began, both men showed signs of fatigue, their shots just a tad slower than they’d been in earlier rounds and Diaz was markedly tentative as he sought to protect what vision remained on his right side even though Rodriguez wasn’t bothering with the left hook.
Rodriguez remembered the punch in round ten. A long right hand at the two minute mark turned Diaz’s head and, after taking a few steps to the right, Rodriguez landed a left jab and double left hook. The competitiveness of the fight was waning rapidly as Rodriguez boxed safely and Diaz offered little offense at all.
None of those strategic points mattered as the scary moments between the tenth and eleventh round broke down. The referee talked to Diaz in the corner asking how many fingers he could see. While the response was hard to pick up, what happened next was not. Diaz rose to his feet and let out an agonizing scream, turning face first towards the ropes as his legs shook and then seemed to go out from under him. He squatted down in his corner, holding his gloves to his temples before being laid flat on the mat, rapidly attended to by EMT’s, provided oxygen, and stretchered out of the ring to a local hospital.
No further information was available as to Diaz’s condition at the time this article went to print. The staffs of Maxboxing and BoxingScene pray for the speedy recovery of Diaz.
The televised Welterweight opener livened up in the eighth and final round as 32-year old 1996 U.S. Olympic Bronze Medalist Terrance Cauthen (32-4, 9 KO) of Trenton, New Jersey put the first defeat onto the record 27-year old Mexico native Alexis Camacho (16-1, 15 KO) of Austin, Texas. Both men weighed in at the division limit of 147 lbs.
Camacho had come forward for the entire fight but often forgot to move his hands while doing so. Cauthen, as is usually the case for him, circled the ring, using his legs and southpaw right jab to maintain distance and score quick if inoffensive blows. In the eighth, he went a step farther, landing a hard right on Camacho that brought some tiger out of the younger man. Camacho would land his own big right hand and continue to pursue to the cheers of the fans. It would ultimately turn out to be too little too with unanimous scores of 78-74 and 77-75 twice in favor of the former Olympian.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org