Joseph Diaz beats Jesus Rojas but having failed to make the weight can’t win the secondary WBA feather title

Eric Armit

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Hollywood, CA, USA: Feather: Joseph Diaz (27-1) W PTS 12 Jesus M Rojas (26-2-2,1ND) W .Super Light: Jonathan Navarro (15-0) W TKO 7 Damon Allen (15-1-1). Super Welter: Ferdinand Kerobyan (10-0) W PTS 6 Jose Rivera (6-4).

Diaz vs. Rojas

How can you have a title fight where the challenger can’t win the title and the champion can’t lose it? Diaz failed to make the weight so even if he won he would not become champion and since Diaz was overweight under WBA rules even if Rojas lost he remained champion. If the title is not at stake then it is not a title fight but everybody paid to see a title fight and TV advertised a title fight and importantly the WBA don’t get a sanction fee for non-title fights so it is a title fight-even if it isn’t. To be honest the champion retaining his title does seem fair to me as it would just not be right for the champion to lose his title in a fight against someone who by not making the weight would not be eligible to fight for the title. So Diaz wins but Rojas remains the holder of the secondary WBA title.

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Rojas was strong in the opening round walking forward banging to the body with both hands but Diaz ended the round with some hard body punches of his own. In the second Diaz was spearing Rojas with his right jab and scoring with hooks. Although Rojas was able to work to the body he was eating jabs on the way in. The third saw the fighters going toe-to-toe for much of the round. Rojas was focusing on the body with right hooks with Diaz switching from head to body with short, accurate bursts of punches. Rojas rolled forward in the fourth with his arms pumping but many of the punches were being blocked by Diaz. Over the last two minutes Diaz was stabbing his jab home and landing clubbing punches. The fifth went in phases. Rojas worked Diaz over on the ropes early only for Diaz to make space and rattle punches through the champion’s guard over the middle of the round with Rojas pinning Diaz to the ropes with body punches at the bell. Rojas stayed on top of Diaz throughout the sixth bulling Diaz around and pounding away with hooks and uppercuts with Diaz not finding the room he needed to counter. Diaz took the seventh. He stayed off the ropes, boxed on the outside slotting home jabs and whacking Rojas with flurries of hooks and uppercuts. The eighth was a two phase round with Rojas steaming forward pounding to the body until Diaz started to fire flashing combinations of anywhere between four and ten punches. He had Rojas pinned to the ropes but when Diaz stepped back Rojas gestured him to come back inside and fight. The ninth was a brawl from bell to bell. It looked at times as though the sheer quantity of hooks and uppercuts from Rojas might overwhelm Diaz until Diaz again came to life with slashing combinations. Diaz had a swelling on his right cheek, was bleeding from the nose and had twice lost his gumshield but it was his flashing combinations that were catching the eye. Diaz simply outboxed Rojas in the tenth. He stayed in ring centre raking Rojas with jabs and a succession of hooks and uppercuts with Rojas unable to get close enough to do any useful work. The eleventh was closer but again it was Diaz doing the more visible scoring with many of the body punches from Rojas being blocked. Diaz stayed out of trouble in the last. Rojas was still marching forward but had slowed and could not pin Diaz down long enough to stage a big finish and Diaz came out a clear winner. Scores 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 all for Diaz. “JoJo” Diaz, 25, has said that despite his failure to make the weight he still sees his future at featherweight. He lost a unanimous decision to Gary Russell for the WBC title less than three months ago but will get a shot at another title next year for sure. Rojas had been upgraded from interim champion to secondary champion (if that is a promotion?) by the WBA and having survived with his title intact will be hoping for a shot at the real champion Leo Santa Cruz.

Navarro vs. Allen

Navarro’s power proves too much for Allen in this clash of unbeaten fighters. Both contestants were letting their hands go early and landing some hard shots. Allen was more mobile with Navarro a bit flat-footed but showing some clever upper body movement. Allen outscored Navarro in the first and second but Navarro had Allen hurt the third. Both had handicaps, Navarro was cut over his left eye in a clash of heads in the third and Allen lost a point for low blows, Allen was quicker and took the fourth but was staggered by a couple of left hooks and a right to the head before banging back strongly at the end of the round. Allen fought on the outside using his jab more and scoring with straight rights in the fifth. As the sixth was coming to an end Allen had Navarro under pressure and bombarding him with punches when a chopping right counter sent Allen stumbling back badly shaken and as the bell went he went from staggering to falling heavily to the canvas. He made it to his feet and weaved his way unsteadily to his corner with the referee not giving Allen a count as he ruled the punch had landed after the bell.. Navarro walked Allen down in the seventh and after Navarro landed two big head punches the referee jumped in just as Allen sunk to the floor. Californian Navarro, 22, gets his eighth win by KO/TKO. No names on his record yet but he showed here he is ready to step up. Allen, 25, who competed at the US Trials for the 2012 Olympics, had scored wins over experienced opponents in Gamaliel Diaz and Martin Honorio but this was a brutal loss.

Kerobyan vs. Jose Rivera

Armenian youngster Kerobyan steamrollers Rivera on his way to decision. Kerobyan was too strong for Rivera and he was marching forward over the full six rounds. He was able to get inside and bang away to body and head with strong hooks and uppercuts inside. Southpaw Rivera showed a good jab and never looked like folding under the pressure but never looked like winning as Kerobyan’s power kept Rivera on the back foot and on the defensive. Scores 60-54 for Kerobyan on all three cards. The 20-year-old Californian-based Kerobyan looks a strong fighter and is worth watching. Rivera keeps his record of not losing inside the distance.

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