By Peter Lim
In a sizzling slugfest, super featherweight prospect Joel Diaz Jr. had to dig deep into his reserve of courage and skills to remain undefeated and up his record to 12-0 (11 KOs) at the Bayou City Events Center in Houston. Diaz, of Southern California, was taken to task by a feisty, iron-chinned local fighter by the name of Victor Sanchez (4-6-1, 1 KO) who gave Diaz fits all night with uncompromising pressure and volume punching before the bout was controversially stopped in the fifth round.
For four scintillating rounds, Sanchez, a southpaw, relentlessly pressed the action and forced Diaz, 129, to fight for every second of every round. Diaz, an accomplished amateur, adeptly sidestepped many of the charges and rip in crisp, accurate counters but he simply could not deter the buzzsaw in boxing trunks in front of him. Resembling a miniature, left-handed version of Antonio Margarito, Sanchez, 129, absorbed hit after direct hit but kept chugging forward with reckless abandon, throwing punches with decapitating intentions. When Sanchez managed to close the distance, he bludgeoned Diaz against the ropes with haymaker lefts and short right hooks.
Education eventually prevailed over passion as Diaz, 21, gradually began to figure out and foil Sanchez's blitzkrieg attack. In the fourth round Diaz began going downstairs with crippling hooks, some of which strayed below the belt, and he started to back Sanchez, 20, up for the first time in the fight. By the fifth round, Diaz had found the right distance and angles to land punches with impunity. Spinning side to side, he repeatedly jolted Sanchez with pinpoint left hooks and straight rights while deflecting or evading most of the incoming fire. Trapping Sanchez in a corner, Diaz landed a series of unanswered shots to the head, prompting referee Gary Simon to step in and wave the fight over, much to the chagrin of the crowd. It was a borderline call; Sanchez was taking a beating and wasn't returning fire effectively but his gloves were up and he did not appear seriously hurt.
Sanchez vehemently protested the stoppage and engaged in a verbal exchange with Diaz's corner during which he was squirted with water by Diaz's father Joel Diaz Sr. Sanchez went after the older Diaz but, fortunately, was restrained by his trainer Harry Thomas before the situation could escalate.
After the fight, Diaz admitted that Sanchez was the hardest chin he ever hit.
"He had a hard head so my coach (Abel Sanchez) told me to go to the body," said Diaz, whose right hand was visibly injured.
"It was a good stoppage," Diaz added. "He was taking a lot of punches and not punching back."
Predictably, Sanchez disagreed saying, "That was bullshit. I could have gone on and I would have stopped him. He was about to go."
Both fighters' stock rose after the fight; Diaz passed a solid gut check and had his chin tested while Sanchez won over the local crowd with his stubborn resolve, take-no-prisoners style and bomb-proof chin.
The card was staged by Savarese Boxing Promotions.
In other bouts:
Heavyweight Darlington Agha (7-0, 6 KOs) stopped undersized and overmatched Anthonny Greeley (8-40-3, 1 KO) in the second round by simply walking down and bludgeoning the smaller man.
Middleweight Chase Corley (3-0, 3 KOs) stopped Wilson Rodriguez (0-1) with a series of right uppercuts in the first round.
Welterweight Felipe Reyes (3-0, 2 KOs) stopped Wille Mille (0-1) with body shots in the second round.
Lightweight Danny Garcia (11-7-2, 8 KOs) stopped David Green (2-15-1, 1 KO) with a barrage of punches in the fifth round.
Colombian Israel Luna (2-0, 2 KOs) stopped Olajuwon Kirk (0-1) in the first round in a junior welterweight bout.
Featherweight Edgar Alarcon (1-0-1) outpointed Guadalupe Perez (0-1) over four rounds.
And super bantamweight Noe Bravo (2-4, 1 KO) outpointed Joe Anthony Narro (0-5) over four rounds.