It was a Mexican-Puerto Rican war between undefeated Abe Lopez and Boricua Jorge Diaz and fun while it lasted. Lopez got the technical knockout win but Diaz showed heart on Thursday.
Before a sold out crowd at Belasco Theater featherweight contender Lopez (19-0-1, 14 Kos) showed why he’s undefeated but New Jersey’s Diaz (18-4-1, 10 Kos) made him earn it each and every round. The crowd was pleased by the mini war.
“I thought Diaz was a tough fighter. He took a lot of punishment from me and that was the plan from the beginning, to put on a lot of pressure,” said La Puente, Calif.’s Lopez. “I was looking for the knockout but he was very resilient.”
Lopez emerged in the first round like gangbusters as Diaz opened up too. After several robust exchanges down went Diaz from a short right hand. Apparently his right knee touched the canvas and referee Jack Reiss ruled it a knockdown.
In the second round a stiff left jab and left hook seemed to stagger Diaz and it looked like it might be a short fight. No such thing. The Puerto Rican fighter simply gritted his teeth and the war was resumed.
“I went in there confident. In the first round, I tried to maintain my distance, focusing on jabbing. As the rounds evolved, his strength was a bit overwhelming,” said Diaz of New Brunswick. “I tried to land punches but he caught them and was hurting me with his shots. That skinny guy is strong.”
Lopez was landing flush combinations repeatedly but nothing seemed to faze Diaz. He kept moving around circling slowly and attacking suddenly. He wasn’t there to survive, he was there to win.
Diaz landed big punches and took big punches and though Lopez seemed the bigger and stronger fighter, it simply wasn’t an easy fight for the undefeated Lopez. In round seven Diaz had his best round and connected with a pretty right uppercut/left hook that was pretty to see. Lopez didn’t blink. But Diaz won that round.
It must have awakened Lopez because in the eighth round he erupted from his corner and unleashed several barrages to the head and body. In round nine he repeated the attack and at the completion of the round Diaz’s corner stopped the fight. Lopez was declared the winner by technical knockout.
“It was very exciting. I felt very emotional that I was fighting in my backyard for all my friends and family,” Lopez said.
In the semi-main event East L.A.’s Roy Tapia (11-0-2, 6 Kos) walked through Tijuana’s Juan Luis Hernandez (18-6-1, 9 Kos) and loaded up with his punches from the first round. By the second round it was apparent that Tapia was not looking to win by decision but he was telegraphing his punches. He cut down on the length of his punches and caught Hernandez with a double right cross. The first one missed but the second connected solidly and down went Hernandez. In the third round a Tapia counter left hook staggered Hernandez who tried punching to the groin to no avail. Tapia caught the Tijuana fighter perfectly with a left hook and down went Hernandez for good at 1:49 of round three.
San Antonio’s Hector Tanahara (1-0) stopped southpaw Thomas De Leon (0-3) at 1:14 of the first round. De Leon had a weird stance and seemed to trip repeatedly over the right-handed Tanahara’s left every time they came close. A right hand delivered from distance floored De Leon. He beat the count and was met with a lead right cross that slammed into his forehead. The super lightweight fight was stopped at 1:14 of the first round.
East L.A.’s Jonathan Navarro (1-0) blasted out Andrew Gomez (0-2) of Galveston, Texas in one round. A sizzling combination followed by a left floored the smaller Gomez. He got up and was met with a right anchor punch that left him immobilized. Navarro showed speed and way too much power for Gomez who was simply out-gunned in the super lightweight match. The end came at 1:03 of the first round.
Francisco Ochoa of L.A. knocked down Marquis Pierce of Newark with a three punch combination in the second round of their lightweight match. Pierce was battered by the faster and taller Ochoa and the fight ended at 30 second of the second round.
East L.A.’s Pablo Rubio (2-0, 2 Kos) had an eight-inch height advantage and used it to stop Tijuana’s muscular but diminutive Martin Regalado (0-1) at 31 seconds into round four. Rubio, a very tall super bantamweight, floored Regalado with a left-right combination in the second round. Then blew his load for the next two rounds. No matter, Rubio pounced on Regalado in the fourth round and landed the same left-right combination that forced referee Zach Young to halt the match.
San Antonio’s Joshua Franco won his pro debut against Tijuana’s Temoatzin Landeros (0-2) but it wasn’t easy. Each round was competitive with Franco showing better speed and Landeros showing some defense and bigger punches. It was Franco’s footwork and ability to land combinations that proved the difference in winning by split decision 40-36, 39-37 and 36-40 for Landeros.
“Fighting at the professional level is very different from being an amateur,” said Franco. “As the fight progressed I felt stronger and found my rhythm.”
Photos Credit: Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions