RINGSIDE in HOUSTON Joel Diaz Jr. Stops Victor Sanchez in 5th

joel diaz jr., lou savarese, kelsey mccarsonHOUSTON — Undefeated junior lightweight prospect Joel Diaz, Jr. (12-0, 11 KOs) defeated Victor Sanchez (4-6-1, 1 KO) by TKO in round five Thursday night in Houston, Texas, in a wildly entertaining brawl.

Former heavyweight contender Lou Savarese and his Houston-based promotional company, Savarese Promotions, put on an eight-fight card Thursday night at the Bayou City Events Center in Houston.

Diaz (in Rachel McCarson photo above) came to the ring wearing a rosary and blasting House of Pain music. The 2008 Junior Olympic silver medalist showed his pedigree by establishing his jab early. Sanchez caught Diaz off balance with a left hook in the middle of the ring but couldn’t capitalize on it. Diaz continued using his jab, setting up overhand rights and double hooks. Sanchez was the aggressor and was able to land several hard hooks and uppercuts of his own when he was able to get inside. Diaz took the round, though, with hard, cleaner shots from both long and short range.

Diaz out-landed Sanchez considerably in the second, when the latter took several shots to the head in an effort to get in close. It worked at the beginning of the round, but Diaz took over later when the sheer volume of his powerful punches began taking their toll. Sanchez found his second wind toward the end of the round, eating two or three to land one at a time in a brilliant round of action.

The third started the way the second had ended, both men giving and taking tremendous punishment. Each man did his best to give as good as he got. Diaz had more success at long range, while Sanchez needed to be close to his taller opponent. Diaz staggered Sanchez several times but could not stop the hard charging demon from hurling himself forward. The crowd cheered wildly for the men as they realized what they were witnessing: a great, old school scrap.

Diaz made Sanchez miss in the fourth, while he continued to land a high percentage of his own devastating blows. The bout was momentarily halted when one of Diaz’s punches ventured too far south of the border, and it seemed to take a bit of steam out of Sanchez until the end of the round. Still, before the bell to end the round sounded, Sanchez stunned Diaz with hard hooks to the head.

Diaz hurt Sanchez at the beginning of the fifth, stunning the brave warrior in his very own corner. Up to the ropes he pinned him, strafing him to the head and body, next to the pillar, then the post, this way and that. Sanchez was fighting differently now. The punches he was swallowing whole earlier in the bout were now taking their toll.

The referee noticed, too, and much to the chagrin of the raucous crowd of 500 in attendance, the bout was halted with Sanchez on his feet, visibly angry but clearly hurt. A small ruckus ensued when Sanchez let his anger get the better of him. Water bottles were tossed all around the ring, and Sanchez got into a bit of a shoving match with Team Diaz before officials could reign things in.

Still, at the end of it, all in attendance were pleased they made it down to see show, which is all you can ask for in boxing. It would seem very few expected such a spirited main event. Even Diaz was surprised at how tough the man in front of him proved to be.

“He was a tough opponent,” Diaz told TSS. “Nobody had stopped him and nobody had knocked him out. I guess I was the first one. I just kept throwing and throwing.”

The prospect said he was glad to be back in the ring for the first time in 2013. He hopes to get back in the ring as soon as possible, he said, though a visibly swollen knuckle attended to by the ringside doctor after the fight suggested it might not be as soon as the fighter originally hoped.

“First win out of 2013, I’m happy for that,” said Diaz. “I was a little sluggish but that’s because it was the first fight of the year. We’re just gonna keep on going and see where this knuckle takes us.”

Other Bouts

A total of sixteen professional punchers traded blows on the blue floor surrounded by a mixture of local business owners, energy company executives and hardcore fight fans.

Savarese and team have been pumping out fight cards on the local scene for four years now. What started as an every-other-month event has become more regular in 2013, thanks in large part to the shift in venue, from the smaller Houston Club to the more amenable Bayou City Events Center.

Savarese told Peter Lim of BoxingScene he hoped to give Houston fight fans one show a month, and so far he’s done his best to do it. Rumble in the Bayou 3, as this particular show was promoted, was Savarese Promotions’ third event in the last four months.

The action began with 120-pounders Noe “Johnny” Bravo (2-4, 4 KOs) and Joe Anthony Narro (0-5). Both fighters came out swinging wide and with vigor in the first of a scheduled four. Bravo got the better of it because his longer reach allowed him to get a few more shots in than his stocky opponent. The second was fought at a more measured pace. Bravo used his long reach to keep Narro at the end of things, the latter unwilling to pay the price to come in close more than just a couple times. Bravo gave up his reach a bit more in the third, allowing Narro to get his best work in at the beginning of the round. Still, Bravo seemed to hurt Narro on the ropes enough for it not to matter on the scorecards. The final round played out like the rest, and judges awarded Bravo the unanimous decision by scores of 40-36.

Veteran Guadalupe Perez (2-13) used every trick in the book to keep hard-charging Edgar Alacon (1-0-1) off him. In the first of a four-rounder that went the distance, the 30-year-old set up sharp, right hand body shots with a quick jab upstairs. He followed the same pattern later in the round with a quick overhand right to the head. Meanwhile, Perez bounced inside with hard hooks up and down. Volume went the younger Alcon’s way, while power edged ever so slightly to Perez. Alacon found a place for his overhand right in the second. The two traded strong jabs in the middle of the ring, before engaging in a battle of combination punching. Perez got his best shot in mid-round off a double hook, though Alacon seemed unfazed. Alacon used two uppercuts to Perez’s body to end the round, a close one. Alacon began catching more of the tiring Perez’s punches in the third, and countering off them to boot. Well placed uppercuts to the chin carried the third for Alacon, who seemed to have more left in the tank as the fight progressed. The two went toe-to-toe in the fourth, with Alacon giving the cleaner, harder blows by the end of it. Judges scored the bout 39-37, 39-37 and 38-38 in favor of Alacon, giving the 20-year-old his first win as a professional.

Israel Luna (2-0, 1 KO) made short work of Olajuwon Kirk (0-1) in each man’s professional debut. The fight was halted at 2:15 of round number one after Kirk went belly-down to the floor in what appeared to be a combination tackle, though it was clear from the preceding two minutes he was being outclassed. The referee explained after the bout that it was stopped because Quinton was essentially turning his back and running from his hulking, technically sound predator. Ironically, Olajuwan took the loss exactly 30 years to the day his probable namesake, Hakeem Olajuwan and the 1983 Houston Cougars basketball team, lost to North Carolina State in one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history. Unlike “The Dream,” though, Kirk was the clear underdog against a two-time Colombian national champion, Luna. The fight was scheduled for four rounds.

Welterweight Willie Miller (0-3) bore a striking resemblance to hall-of-famer Thomas Hearnes, that is, until the punches starting flying. Miller was game, but his punches lacked the sting of “The Hitman” no matter how often he threw them. Meanwhile, undefeated Houstonian Felipe Reyes (3-0, 2 KOs) remained so with devastating body blows and short, hard hooks. Reyes quickly corralled Miller in the corner and had him visibly hurt in the first of the scheduled four before a low blow by Reyes momentarily halted the action. After Miller recovered, Reyes put him right back in the corner until the bell sounded. Miller made it through the round, but barely. In the second, Reyes pushed Miller to the opposite corner and quickly put him down with vicious body shots, then again moments later where the contest was halted at 2:00 of round two.

Converted Muay Thai fighter Chase Corley (3-0, 3 KOs) of Houston defeated Wilson Rodriguez by TKO at 2:41 of round one. Corley used short, powerful punches from in close to batter the debuting Rodriguez post to post until the referee wisely halted the action. Rodriguez was visibly hurt early, and Corley made sure he stayed that way. The bout was scheduled for four rounds.

Heavyweights marched out to the beat of a slower but more powerful drum in their scheduled four-rounder. Undefeated Darlington Agha (7-0, 6 KOs) worked his way in behind a high guard to put Anthony Greeley (2-15, 1 KO) down to a knee with a bodyshot at the end of the first. Agha stood patiently in his corner ala George Foreman between rounds and put Greeley down again the same way at the start of the second. A few moments later, Agha punched the will out of his opponent with six hard right hand hooks to the body then finished it up with a long, overhand right to Greeley’s head which put him on the mat the final time. Greeley made it to his feet but decided enough was enough at 1:10 of round number two.

In a scheduled six-rounder, undefeated lightweight Danny Garcia (no, not that Danny Garcia) used a snapping jab in the first to keep David Green (2-15, 1 KO) on the defensive. Garcia followed it up with a long, looping right hand a few seconds later to let Green know something would sometimes follow it. Green tried to slip Garcia’s jab at times, but couldn’t do it often enough to establish his own offense. Green was more aggressive to start the second, but a patented Garcia jab stunned him enough to let Garcia hurl parts of the kitchen sink at him until Green could regain composure. Garcia was content to go back to his jab for the rest of the round. Green got a couple hard shots in before the bell to even it up a bit, but started showing visible puffiness around his eyes, frequent landing spots of Garcia’s jab. Green did his best work in the third, when he was able to trap Garcia against the rope. Green wheeled looping body punches to Garcia’s torso and started moving him back more often than before. His success in the third gave Green renewed vigor in the next round. He came out with everything he had, but Garcia weathered the storm and had Green back on the defensive in short order. It was the beginning of the end for Green. Garcia hurt Green with one-twos from increasingly closer ranges before pinning Green to the ropes for a knockdown. Green rose to his feet and finished on his feet, with Garcia giving him too much to handle against the opposite corner moments later. Danny Garcia improved to 11-0 with 8 KOs. The fight was halted at 1:45 of round five.

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