Joseph Diaz Jr. defeats Jesus Rojas but doesn’t win title after missing weight
Joseph Diaz Jr. won the fight but not the belt.
Diaz won a grueling unanimous decision over secondary featherweight world titleholder Jesus Rojas on Saturday night at the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, California, but he was not eligible to win the belt because he failed to make the 126-pound division limit at Friday’s weigh-in. While Rojas, who could not lose the title, weighed 125.8 pounds, Diaz was 126.6 pounds.
Nonetheless, the fight, which headlined the first “Golden Boy Fight Night” card as part of Golden Boy Promotions’ deal with Facebook for at least five boxing cards to stream live on Facebook Watch, went ahead anyway and it was a slam-bang affair with Diaz prevailing 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113.
“I’m very, very sorry to all my fans and to my promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, for not making weight. Next time I’ll make the weight,” Diaz said. “We had a solid performance. Rojas came to bang. He had solid punch. I feel good. Hats off to Jesus Rojas. It was a fight for the fans. We’re proud of what we did.”
Rojas didn’t argue with the decision but was disappointed.
“The judges are the ones who make the call,” Rojas said through an interpreter. “One can see it one way, while another sees it another way. The judges make the call. I proved myself against the best. He wasn’t the great Joseph Diaz that you saw against other fighters when he was in the ring with me. I still feel I’m one of the top 126-pounders in the world.”
On May 19, Diaz (27-1, 14 KOs), 25, a southpaw from South El Monte, California, was the mandatory challenger when he got a shot at Gary Russell Jr.’s version of the featherweight world title and lost a unanimous decision. He vowed to fight better when he got the unexpected shot against Rojas.
“I suffered my first loss in my last fight and I told everyone I would come back stronger than ever, and I did,” said Diaz, a 2012 U.S. Olympian.
Though the technology of the first Golden Boy show with Facebook had plenty of issues, with the stream failing for four rounds in the middle of the fight, the action was brisk and consistent.
It was a physical fight with both men having their moments as they attacked each other to the body and traded hard shots, including uppercuts from Rojas. By the fourth round, Diaz’s face was marked up and he was bleeding from his nose and having trouble breathing.
“He got me with a good uppercut, so it was hard to breath through my nose,” Diaz said. “I knew he would be very aggressive, and he’s very strong.”
The ultra-aggressive Rojas marched forward round after round looking to impose himself, while Diaz threw many combinations and flurries in spurts and boxed a bit more. It was an exciting fight with a slew of exchanges throughout, and many of the rounds were awfully close.
It was an all-out slugfest in the 12th round, as Diaz and Rojas, perhaps believing the fight was up for grabs, put their heads down and slugged it out in the center of the ring until the final bell much to the delight of the sold-out crowd of 684 at the famed theater in the heart of Hollywood.
“It was a great fight, a war,” Rojas said. “Diaz came to fight. We gave a fight that the people deserved. I feel I was more active and that I threw [more] punches. He was tired and I was able to connect more with punches.”
According to CompuBox statistics, Diaz landed 237 of 771 punches (31 percent), and Rojas landed 202 of 724 (28 percent).
The California State Athletic Commission fined Diaz 20 percent ($10,000) of his $50,000 purse for failing to make weight. Half of the fine money went to the commission and the remaining $5,000 was given to Rojas, bumping up his $60,000 purse.
Rojas (26-2-2, 19 KOs), 31, of Puerto Rico, was fighting for the first time since claiming the interim title by impressive seventh-round knockout of Claudio Marrero in September and then being elevated to the “regular” titleholder. He suffered his first loss since an eight-round decision to Jose Angel Beranza in 2008.
Navarro stops Allen in seventh
Junior welterweight Jonathan Navarro (15-0, 8 KOs), 22, of Los Angeles, stopped Damon Allen (15-1-1, 5 KOs), 25, of Philadelphia, in the seventh round in a battle of unbeaten Golden Boy prospects.
“He’s a prospect, and he’s hungry, and he brought a lot out of me,” Navarro said. “I knew that once he felt my power he would be out. I’m ready for whatever is next.”
In the third round, an accidental head-butt left Navarro with a bad cut over his right eye, but he took over the fight in the fifth round when he tattooed Allen with punches. Allen was hurt and his legs were unsteady, but he managed to survive the onslaught.
At the end of the sixth round, Navarro landed a clean right hand on Allen’s chin virtually simultaneously with the bell ending the round, and Allen went down. Allen struggled to his feet and was extremely unsteady. He was still in bad shape in the seventh round when Navarro landed a slew of punches, including a right-left-right combination that had Allen out on his feet. Referee Zac Young stepped in and waved it off at 1 minute, 33 seconds.
“It just wasn’t my night,” Allen said. “He had the better class and action plan, and we just came up short. We’re both top prospects, and we knew it was going to be a war in there. I failed to keep my hands up and let him take control of me.”
Ronda Rousey-managed junior middleweight prospect Ferdinand Kerobyan (10-0, 5 KOs), 20, a native of Armenia fighting out of North Hollywood, California, battered southpaw Jose Rivera (6-4, 4 KOs), 29, of Manchester Connecticut, throughout the fight en route to a shutout decision. Kerobyan, who was particularly effective blasting Rivera to the body with both hands, won 60-54 on all three scorecards.
“I feel so blessed to be a part of the first Facebook Watch show, and I hope my performance tonight shows that I’m capable of taking advantage of these opportunities,” Kerobyan said. “I wanted to get the knockout, but I am pleased with the result. He was tough, and we were able to get some good exchanges. I look forward to jumping back into the ring soon.”
Welterweight prospect Aaron McKenna (5-0, 3 KOs), 19, an Ireland native fighting out of Los Angeles, laid a beating on Rolando Mendivil (10-5, 3 KOs), 22, of Mexico, in a shutout decision. McKenna, who landed an avalanche of right hands throughout the fight, won 40-36 on all three scorecards. Mendivil lost his second fight in a row.
“Being a part of the Golden Boy Fight Night on Facebook Watch was amazing,” McKenna said. “I’m glad that I get to be a part of boxing history, and that my family from back home can watch. I thought that we did great. I went in there with an opponent with more experience than me who was ready to go in. I learned a lot from those four full rounds.”