LEMOORE, Calif. (Dec. 2, 2005) – Gamaliel Diaz is nicknamed “Platano,’’ which means “banana’’ in English. But for one night you could call him “Ghostbuster.”
In a fast-paced, hotly contested slugfest between two young, top 10-ranked featherweights, Diaz showed that he was not afraid of ghosts by taking a thrilling 12-round split decision over one of boxing’s brightest stars, the previously unbeaten Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, Friday on “ShoBox: The New Generation” on SHOWTIME.
By handing the World Boxing Council No. 2-ranked 126-pounder his first loss, Diaz, who entered the ring rated No. 7 by the WBC, won the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) featherweight title. In the “ShoBox” co-feature, undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) No. 13/International Boxing Federation (IBF) No. 15 welterweight contender, Paul “The Punisher’’ Williams, knocked out former Mexican champion, Alfonso Sanchez, in the fifth round.
The doubleheader, which took place at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, was promoted by Goossen Tutor and aired at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on west coast). The telecast – the last in what has been a sensational year of competitive, exciting fights on “ShoBox” — was the 69th in the popular boxing series, which debuted on SHOWTIME in July 2001. “ShoBox” resumes on Jan. 6, 2006.
Diaz (20-5-2, 9 KOs), of Mexico City, Mexico, won his United States debut and 11th consecutive start by the scores of 115-112, 114-113 and 112-115 despite losing a point in the final round for hitting behind the head. Diaz, who is unbeaten in his last 18 outings (16-0-2), has not lost since July 29, 2000. He fought like a winner throughout against Guerrero, performing with intelligence, confidence and poise against a well-regarded, highly skilled opponent in a hostile environment. A two-fisted banger who never seemed seriously hurt, Diaz scored often with counter punches and had the more effective jab.
Guerrero (16-1-1, 9 KOs), of Gilroy, Calif., never seemed to get into a comfortable groove, particularly during the first seven or eight rounds. Spurred on by a raucous crowd, the extremely popular southpaw rallied strongly in the last few sessions to make it close, but it was too little too late. Guerrero, who is unusually tall and rangy for a featherweight, is known for tremendous speed and defense, but he got nailed often by Diaz, who dictated the pace for the most part. Guerrero came in also ranked in the IBF (No. 9) and WBA (No. 12). He was making the third defense of his NABF title.
Williams (28-0, 20 KOs), of Augusta, Ga., mostly dominated, scoring two knockdowns. Sanchez got up after going down in the fourth, but he was counted out after the second knockdown in the fifth. The bout ended at 1:12. The 6-foot-1 Williams had a six-inch height advantage and he utilized it by keeping the fight on the outside and working in and out with both hands. Williams, who seems ready to step up in class, showed he had a good chin, especially in the initial couple rounds when Sanchez caught him flush.
Sanchez (20-4-1, 18 KOs), of Tijuana, Mexico, came out banging, as expected, and landed several solid shots. It is all or nothing with the slugger, however, and once he was unable to sustain his attack or get inside, and once he saw that Williams could handle his best shot, he became discouraged.
Nick Charles called Friday’s action from ringside, with Steve Farhood serving as expert analyst. The executive producer of the telecast was Gordon Hall, with Richard Gaughan producing.
In addition to the rebroadcast on Saturday, Dec. 3, at midnight, Friday’s bouts also will be replayed on SHOWTIME EXTREME Monday at 8 p.m. and Wednesday at 11:30 p.m. and back on SHOWTIME TOO Thursday at 11 p.m.
The next “ShoBox’’ telecast on Jan. 6, 2006, on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast.) will feature promising, hard-hitting, undefeated Jorge Julio (25-0, 22 KOs) against Irving Garcia (11-2, 5 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight match.
The following night, Jan. 7, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING will offer a world championship doubleheader at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). In the main event, two reigning cruiserweight champions will collide when WBC/WBA champion Jean-Marc Mormeck faces his IBF counterpart, O’Neil Bell, in a world title unification bout. In the co-feature, one of the world’s best pound-for-pound boxers, undisputed welterweight champion Zab “Super” Judah will defend his WBC 147-pound crown against mandatory challenger and No. 1 contender, Carlos Baldomir.