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"Dynamita" Marquez scores KO in classic fight; John and Juarez fight to unanimous draw!

Last Saturday night, I was fortunate to witness one of the greatest lightweight fights of all time when "Dynamita" Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz met at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX for the lightweight championship of the world. Given the 14,571 fans in attendance at this fight in Houston, and taking into account the downward economic turbulence that our country is suffering from at the present time, further evidence is once again established that the sport of boxing remains healthy and is very much alive today.

Even though the WBA and WBO belts were added to the sweepstakes being contested for, nobody needed alphabet soup organizations to make the determination that the victor in this fight was indeed going to be designated as the universally recognized king at 135lbs. What we were not totally certain of was that this match up would produce the greatest lightweight championship fight, or even lightweight fight for that matter, since the memorable encounter between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo in May of 2005.

Juan Manuel Marquez TKO9 Juan Diaz... This fight was indeed an all time classic as well as an early Fight of the Year candidate. Going into the fight, one knew that it featured a more experienced and seasoned all time great Mexican in Marquez against a young Mexican American fighter in Diaz. Both fighters came out prime for combat in the opening round, as Diaz took the initiative in the opening rounds and raked Marquez on the ropes with savage body work as well as punches to the head. In the second round, Diaz even managed to hurt Marquez momentarily, but Dynamita would survive those critical moments to come back and win the third round with precise and accurate counter punching.


Following the first couple of rounds, won by the Baby Bull from my view point, the fight became more of a sea saw battle throughout the early to middle rounds. The action was so two-sided and indistinguishable that it made each round extremely difficult to score. Neither combatant had a clear edge, nor was there any point when it looked like either fighter was imposing his will on his opponent. After five hotly contested rounds, the battle line had been drawn. Marquez had the advantage in the middle of the ring with his counter punching, while Diaz had his finest moments battering Marquez on the ropes with his fast crisp combinations. While scoring each individual round, I would begin to give credit to Marquez for outboxing Diaz in the center of ring, when all of a sudden Diaz would bully Marquez on the ropes and retaliate by viciously attacking him with combinations to the body and head.


Marquez began to take command in round eight, as he seemed to stun Diaz towards the end of the round. Round nine was the beginning of the end for Diaz, as Marquez hurt Diaz with a right hand followed by a flurry of shots that dropped the Houston native. Diaz was able to make it to his feet, but Marquez dropped him once again with an uppercut and the referee waved the fight off without even administering another count. This fight had been so difficult to score, that the three official scores at the time of the stoppage were 77-75 Diaz, 77-75 Marquez, and 76-76. Boxing Chronicles had the fight scored 77-75 Marquez after eight rounds. With his win over Diaz, Marquez claimed the vacant WBA and WBO title belts and retained the Ring Magazine lightweight championship.

With the consecutive knockout wins over Casamayor and Diaz, Marquez moves on to bigger fights, most notably a third fight against Pacquiao if he's successful against Ricky Hatton on May 2, as well as a possible move up in weight. There are few fans and experts who would not want to see Juan Diaz in action again. This young man gave a great account of himself in his own right and was very exciting to watch. Win or lose, his fights are entertaining to watch, viewers know that there will be fire works in his fights, and fighters like Diaz make for entetaining television. With Campbell at 140lbs, and Marquez soon to be on his way there himself, Diaz may yet have a chance to emerge as a dominant force at lightweight, or at least win another title as long as he remains in that weight class.

Chris John D12 Rocky Juarez... Listening to the commentary of Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Emmanuel Steward at ringside on HBO, one would believe that John deserved to win this fight handily. Not so much the case in my unbiased opinion, as this fight in all honesty was very close. John outworked Juarez in many of middle rounds, but it was Juarez landing the cleaner and more effective punches. In the last couple of rounds, often noted as the championship rounds, John was in retreat and Juarez was on the attack trying to score the type of dramatic come-from-behind knockout that he was able to produce against Jorge Barrios in his previous fight.

Juarez even managed to stagger John at the end of the eleventh round. The twelfth and final round produced more of the same as round eleven, with Juarez scoring and John attempting to run out the clock. In what is surely a rare occurrence in judging, all three official judges scored the fight 114-114. How about that? That is exactly how Boxing Chronicles happened to score the fight as well. All four of us can't possibly be blind, can we? HBO's unofficial ringside judge Harold Lederman scored the fight a suprisingly wide 116-112, inexplicably giving John the twelfth round. Nonetheless, Chris John has made another successful defense of the featherweight championship. A rematch is certainly warranted as well as probable.
television: HBO World Championship Boxing

Barring a draw somebody is inclined to taste defeat in every fight, but there were no losers in either of the matches that took place in Houston on Saturday. All four pugilists fought brilliantly, gave great accounts of themselves, and HBO is definitely stepping their game up with this quality matches. They see what Showtime has been doing. Executives within HBO's establishment must have had a long and fruitful conversation regarding the history of their recent events and telecasts and that talk was based on bringing an end to showing rising stars as well as current superstars featured in awful mismatches against over matched opposition. If promoters like Bob Arum elect to showcase their stars against disposable can fodder, HBO would finally appear to be stepping up to the plate and advising them to show it on their own PPV channel - as was the case with Top Rank's Pavlik/Cotto PPV doubleheader a couple weeks ago. HBO starting 2009 off on the right track.

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