INDIO, CALIF: Mix a bunch of featherweight prospects with a giant of a heavyweight, and a near sold-out crowd saw China’s Taishan and USA’s Jojo Diaz emerge with knockout victories on Thursday night.
Former U.S. Olympian Diaz (13-0, 9 Kos) walked into Fantasy Springs Casino knowing that Mexico’s Roberto Castaneda (21-7-1, 15 Kos) had knockout power and a sturdy chin. China’s heavyweight giant Taishan walked into the ring with massive shoulders that seemed to scare the life out of his opponent.
China’s near 6’10” tall Taishan (2-0, 2 Kos) needed just 2:35 to figure out the elusive Tommy Washington (3-7) before lowering the boom on the shorter fighter with a right hand anchor punch for the knockout win. Behind a steady stiff jab Taishan pressed the fight and cornered Washington and ended the fight emphatically. Is he the next Nicolai Valuev? Probably not. But he’s impressive to see walk in the ring.
In the super bantamweight showdown, Diaz’s speed proved a little difficult for Castaneda to adjust in the first round. Diaz attacked the body and sometimes the head with little return fire from the Mexican fighter.
Castaneda opened up round two on the attack. Some blasts to Diaz’s body seemed to fire him up and he returned with some blistering blows of his own. Castaneda withstood the attack.
Three successive lefts to the head by Diaz in round four seemed to spell the end of Castaneda but the Mexican withstood the blows and attempted to rally. He made it until the bell but his corner stopped the fight at the end of the round to give Diaz the win by technical knockout.
“He had to go beyond showing his skills because the guy was a little tougher,” said Ben Lira, trainer of Diaz. “He had to go beyond today.”
Diaz seems ready to attack the next tier of super bantamweights.
East L.A.’s Julian “El Camaron” Ramirez was too much to handle for Mexico City’s Pedro Melo (11-6-2) , who failed to last past round four. Ramirez was the sharper fighter and was able to use his southpaw style to confuse Melo throughout.
Diego De La Hoya (8-0, 6 Kos), who hails from Mexicali, confronted Tijuana’s Ali Gonzalez (6-4) and matched wits with the rival for five rounds. He managed to floor Gonzalez in the second round with a right hand but it was indecisive if it really was a knockdown. No matter, in round five De La Hoya smartly went to the body with four single right hands before repositioning to the head. Gonzalez went down and though he beat the count he was pummeled. Referee Raul Caiz ended the fight at 1:40 of round five.
East L.A.’s Roy Tapia mauled his way past former contender Luis Maldonado to win by knockout at 2:19 of round four of a lightweight clash. Maldonado tried to keep Tapia away and was able to do it for the first three rounds until a Tapia left hook to the body sent Maldonado slumping to the floor. Another barrage of punches forced referee Ray Corona to stop the fight.
Carlos Morales (6-1-3, 2 Kos) found the antidote to Gabriel Tomaljyan’s southpaw style and won by unanimous decision after six rounds in a lightweight bout. It was a close and strategic match as Morales attacked the body and that seemed to open up things for the L.A.-based boxer. Tomaljyan (13-4-2) had some good moments when he used lead lefts but didn’t do enough. Two judges scored it 59-55 and one judge 58-56, all for Morales.
In a one-sided fight Nick Arce won his debut over Adalbert Valenzuela by fourth round knockout at 2:51 of the round. A left hook did the job in a contest that Tijuana’s Valenzuela did not seem interested in. Arce hails from Mexicali but lives in L.A.