Houston fighters Juan Diaz and Rocky Juarez posted wins on HBO's Boxing After Dark last night, one of them staging a brutal comeback that concluded with the year's ugliest medical stoppage, and the other taking a split decision that shouldn't have been.
In the main event, Diaz came back from his first career loss with what seemed to be a rather dominant win over Australian slugger Michael Katsidis, but the judges' tallies told a different story. Judge Glen Hamada gave the bout to Katsidis, 115-113, and the other two gave Diaz the win, 116-112 and 115-113.
I had it 118-110, the same as HBO's Harold Lederman. I'm not saying old Hurrld is the greatest gauge these days, but I legitimately can't possibly see how this fight could have been scored for Katsidis.
Let's get into facts. Ignore what you saw or what you know.
Fighter A lands 296 of 801 punches thrown, good for a 37% connect rate. Fighter B lands 149 of 868 punches, good for a 17% connect rate. Furthermore, Fighter B is cut in three places and both of his eyes are swelling shut, and none of this came from a foul. Fighter A has a small mouse near his left eye, and some mild bruising outside of his right temple.
There are no knockdowns. Fighter B does not overwhelm in any single round.
Who do you think wins?
If you said Fighter B, you're in line with Glen Hamada. There is no excuse for thinking that Katsidis won this fight, as his awful cornerman/manager Brendon Smith tried to defend after the bout. Max Kellerman (who was in rare prickly form all night, honestly) was honest with Katsidis and Smith and said that he and his commentary partners had the fight as a lopsided decision for Diaz.
Katsidis was not only beaten by the faster, smarter, more technically proficient Diaz, but he was beaten in the corner, too. Ronnie Shields was excellent with Diaz, while Smith seemed like a guy that didn't know what he was doing, more of a buddy coaching a buddy than a trainer coaching his fighter, if you know what I mean. "Keep doing what you're doing, it's beautiful, it's wonderful, it's perfect." Well, it wasn't perfect. He was beaten badly in the fight stats, he was bloodied, and while valiant, he seemed almost lost at several points during the fight.
If I were Katsidis, I would strongly consider a new trainer. That said, I'm sure he and Smith are very close, and I don't mean to crap on Brendon for thinking his fighter won the bout. But I think it's very obvious and very clear that he did not.
As far as Katsidis goes, though, he was a class act after his second straight loss. He was asked by Kellerman if he should go after a soft opponent, to which he responded, "Nah. Go big or go home." He's Arturo Gatti II, and there's nothing bad to say about that. He is what he is, a gutsy warrior that comes to fight.
It's also worth noting that it was not anywhere near the epic battle we all expected. Honestly, when I put together the 20 best fights of the year in December, this fight won't make it. It wasn't nearly as good as Katsidis' last fight, and it wasn't as good as Diaz-Campbell, either. It was entertaining because both guys fight hard all the time, but it wasn't a great fight.
On the undercard, Rocky Juarez staged a dramatic late-rounds comeback against Jorge Barrios, scoring an 11th round TKO stoppage when Barrios' lip literally began to fall off of his face. It was a gruesome looking injury and the fight had to have been stopped -- had it not been, his lip would've been ripped from his head and he would've had a Joker scar.
Barrios controlled much of the fight. I had him winning despite being docked two points for low blows by awful referee Rafael Ramos, but it was competitive and closer than the HBO telecast made it seem. Juarez had his usual problems with not pulling the trigger -- it's his only real weakness.
It was a good night of boxing, and it was great to have so much to watch this weekend after the dead month. Diaz-Katsidis may have been disappointing and poorly judged (in my view), but it wasn't a bad fight at all. Two good action fighters going head-to-head can fall short of expectations, but it can't really be bad. That was the case last night.