Juan Defeats Julio In All-Diaz Battle, Unifies WBA/WBO/IBF Lightweight Titles

By Francis Walker
Updated: October 15, 2007

GlovesNEW YORK — Juan and Julio Diaz (no relation) engaged in a battle to unify three versions of the world lightweight championship. After eighth rounds of action, it was Juan (33-0, 17 KOs) who unified his WBA/WBO championships by ceasing IBF 135-pound title when Julio (34-4, 25 KOs) refused to leave his corner to start the ninth round.

Diaz vs. Diaz was a promotion of Don King Productions and televised live on HBO’s famed “Boxing After Dark” series from the Sears Center in Chicago.

Juan, the 24 year-old college student, has clearly placed himself as the premiere world lightweight champion. He has three of the four major world titles in his weight class. Juan has been WBA champion for more than three years and has defended it seven times.

But in Juan’s last two defenses, he also picked up the World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation title belts in the process.

“I feel like I’m on top of the world, Juan said afterwards. “I feel like King Kong.”

Coincidentally, the two fighters that Juan defeated for those two belts, Acelino Freitas and Julio Diaz, both quit on their stools.

Juan’s combination punching, hand speed, and relentless determination proved to be too much for Julio. Juan fought Julio from close range and surprised him with sharp uppercuts, hooks, and body shots. Juan would land a one-two, followed by another one-two before Julio could counter. That’s four unanswered punches Juan threw and was very effective.

There were times when Julio, who often switched between southpaw and conventional, landed combinations from the inside and moved very well.

But the longer the bout progressed, the more Julio’s will was broken.

Juan’s punches were faster, harder, sharper, and did more damage.

Juan is quickly developing into one of the better pressure fighters in boxing. Since Juan has been a world champion for four years and has added to his collection of championship belts in recent months, there will be increased interest to see him compete.

Juan’s Immediate Future — Nate Campbell Next?

Along with winning a world championship is the responsibility of having to face a mandatory challenger. Juan, since he has three world title belts, has three separate mandatory challengers. Juan’s next fight will most likely be a mandatory.

According to the recent rankings from the major sanctioning bodies, International Boxing Federation No. 1-ranked contender is Nate Campbell, who is due for his title shot in March 2008. Campbell has competed in three separate IBF elimination bouts since April 2006 winning the last two.

Campbell has never won a world title during his seven-year career.

In his only world title fight, Campbell was stopped by Robbie Peden (TKO by 8) for the IBF 130-pound title in February 2005.

Juan’s other mandatory challengers include: World Boxing Association’s No. 1-ranked, Prawet Singwancha. Also, the World Boxing Organization has Anthony Peterson as its No. 1-ranked challenger, but Michael Katsidis is the WBO “interim” champion at 135.

Diaz vs. Diaz Again? Casamayor? Pacaquaio?

It would be very interesting to see whether Juan Diaz will pursue other championship unification fights. It will take some time, as the WBC lightweight title situation involving Oscar Diaz and “interim” champion Joel Casamayor must first sort itself out.

Casamayor, on the Miguel Cotto vs. Sugar Shane Mosley pay per view undercard on November 10, must make a mandated title defense his WBC “interim” belt against Jose Armando Santa Cruz. The winner will next fight Oscar the WBC lightweight titlist. In Oscar Diaz’ last bout, he ended the career of faded Mexican legend, Erik Morales.

Plus, Manny Pacquaio, who recently dominated and retired Marco Antonio Barrera after their rematch from four years ago, will be looking to move up to the lightweight division.

Juan Diaz vs. Manny Pacquaio is probably the most attractive fight available with the exception of Joel Casamayor. Should Juan and Manny strike a deal in the next few months, Juan Diaz will have the daunting task of vacating one of his three world titles that he’s worked so hard for.

Holyfield Comes Up Short Against WBO Champion Ibragimov

Evander Holyfield’s dream of retiring as the undisputed world heavyweight champion took a lethal blow on Saturday. Holyfield (42-9-2, 27 KOs), at age 44, dropped a 12-round unanimous decision against unbeaten WBO heavyweight champion Sultan Ibragimov (22-0, 17 KOs) in Moscow, Russia.

All three judges scored the bout for the champion by scores of 118-110 and 117-111 (twice). Ibragimov, a 32 year-old southpaw, was faster and used a lot of movement to keep away from Holyfield’s powered shots. Heading into the fight many believed that Holyfield would need a knockout to beat the champion making his first heavyweight title defense in his native country.

It would be ideal for Ibragimov, who also defeated Shannon Briggs to win the WBO title in June, to pursuer a unification fight with arguably the top heavyweight champion in boxing today, IBF kingpin Wladimir Klitschko. However, Ibragimov may opt to fight mandatory challenger Tony Thompson.