Christopher ‘Pitufo’ Diaz sensed that a boxing match would turn into a fight at some point.
Neither the game plan nor outcome went as planned for the two-time challenger, who suffered a 12th round stoppage loss to WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete. Puerto Rico’s Diaz was dropped four times before his corner called for referee Samuel Burgos to end the fight at 2:49 of round 12 in Saturday’s ESPN-televised main event from a sold-out Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.
“I’m very disappointed,” Diaz said after his valiant-in-defeat effort. “I wanted to win. It’s a title shot. But next time.
“[Navarrete’s] a great f------ fighter. He hit hard. We went to war. I made my best fight. I was in shape. Everything was good.”
Diaz (26-3, 16KOs)—who hails from Orlando by way of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico—vowed before the fight that he would do his best to box with Mexico’s Navarrete (34-1, 29KOs), sensing he stood little chance of winning a slugfest. He had his moments before finding himself going to war with the more aggressive Navarrete, a two-division titlist who was attempting the first defense of his WBO featherweight title reign. The manner in which the fight played out served to the delight of the partisan crowd of 3,262, even if their guy didn’t win in the end.
Navarrete built up a sizable lead prior to the stoppage, as Diaz was down in round four, twice in round eight and again late in the 12th and final round. The final sequence saw the local favorite attempt to fight until the final bell, only for head trainer Nelson Rodriguez to call for his fighter to be rescued.
Overall, the action—even if relatively one-sided—fell in line with the pre-fight promise of proudly representing the long-standing in-ring rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico.
“I always bring my heart with me. I came here to fight,” admits Diaz, who trailed 107-98 on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage. “I said I want to box but that guy, he’s a problem. We come here to fight, too. He caught me. My coach loves me like a son, and he stopped the fight."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox