By Francisco Salazar
Former world junior bantamweight titleholder McJoe Arroyo won an eight round majority decision over 18-year-old Sander Diaz at the Plaza Principal in Palmar de Varela, Colombia, about 15 miles south of Barranquilla.
It was Arroyo's first bout since his 12 round unanimous decision loss to Rau'shee Warren on July 29.
Arroyo was the more polished fighter of the two, but the southpaw looked very rusty, never getting into any real rhythm throughout the fight. Arroyo was at his best landing one-two punch combinations to the head of Diaz, but that was the most effective offense Arroyo did throughout the night.
Diaz, who was coming off a decision loss to unbeaten Yeison Vargas on Nov. 24, smothered Arroyo's punches during most of the second half of the fight. Both fighters would clench, but Diaz would free his arms, throwing punches onto Arroyo, who did little to keep Diaz at arm's length.
Diaz gained more confidence going into the final two rounds, letting his hands go more as he walked Arroyo down. On occasion, Diaz would rush in and throw wild hooks and crosses to Arroyo's head.
One judge scored the bout 76-76, while the other two judges scored the bout 78-74 for Arroyo, who goes to 18-2, 8 knockouts.
Arroyo won the vacant IBF junior bantamweight title in July of 2015, defeating Arthur Villanueva by technical decision. He would lose the title 13 months later to Jerwin Ancajas in his first title defense.
Arroyo is the twin brother of McWilliams Arroyo.
Diaz, who hails from Maracay, Venezuela, drops to 5-3-1, 2 KOs.
In the main event, junior welterweight Marcos Jimenez of the Dominican Republic won an eight round majority decision over veteran Walter Estrada.
Jimenez (23-8, 15 KOs) was the aggressor during the opening two rounds, but relied on jabbing or throwing lead left hooks the rest of the fight. After the fight, Jimenez's corner claimed their fighter hurt his right hand towards the end of the opening round.
The southpaw Estrada (46-27-1, 30 KOs), who is originally from Canalete, Colombia and now resides in Miami, rarely took initiative, even though he connected with several left crosses to the head. Jimenez would keep Estrada at bay with a steady amount of jabs to the head.
Jimenez was announced as the winner, but the scores were not.
Unbeaten bantamweight Jeyvier Cintron stopped Omni Padilla (5-14, 3 KOs) at the beginning of the third round to improve to 6-0, 4 KOs. Cintron represented Puerto Rico at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing