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Once upon a time, Joseph Diaz was a baby-faced fighter with obvious talent and later, blonde hair. He was tough for sure, but the new Diaz, he of a dark mane and goatee, who fought Javier Fortuna Friday night at Bank of California in Los Angles, is downright gritty.

Diaz ignored a bad cut and flurried past former WBA champion Javier Fortuna in a hard-fought 12-rounder. Scores were 117-110, 116-111, and 115-112. Maxboxing judged Diaz the winner by a 114-113 tally.

Both southpaws scored in the opening stanza. Diaz, a former IBF super featherweight champion, worked up and down, while Fortuna jabbed. Fortuna came out fast in round two. He fired combinations. Diaz landed some effective counters, but Fortuna was busier. Fortuna continued to get off first in round three. He slipped to his right and stabbed Diaz with blows. Diaz landed a solid combination that gave his fans something to cheer about, but seconds later an accidental headbutt created a cut and blood over and around Diaz’s left eyebrow.

Not good.

Diaz got off first in round four. He clipped Fortuna with a good left. After having a point controversially removed for a shot behind the head, Diaz let fly with a shot to the body and head, but Fortuna landed a left and right. Fortuna went to work in round six. He nailed Diaz with several headshots. Diaz took them and dabbed at his bloody eye. He had to sense he was losing. A rally would be needed.

Fortuna continued to get off first in round seven, but Diaz upped the ante – doing some good work on the inside. Fortuna danced away and fired. Diaz backed him into a corner and let his hands go – catching Fortuna with a left in round seven. Diaz cracked Fortuna with two shots to the ribs. The pattern was set. Fortuna boxed while the bloody Diaz stalked and rocked. The rally was on.

In round nine, Fortuna pumped his right jab. The relentless Diaz fired a few counterblows. He also landed some nice uppercuts. Fortuna scored with his punches on the inside, but Diaz had gotten the better of it.

Diaz came out punching in round 10, landing some wicked some more wicked bodyshots. Fortuna moved away. Diaz jabbed as well. He connected with a left. Diaz landed a cracking left and flurried, appearing to hurt Fortuna near the end of the round. He tested Fortuna seconds into round 11.

Fortuna punched back. Diaz tried to time an uppercut but missed. Diaz opened up with 50 seconds to go in the round, clipping Fortuna with hooks. Both fighters looked gassed at the end of the round. Fortuna did well in the first minute of the 12th and final round, but Diaz fired back.

“I want to keep moving forward with my career and face the toughest fights,” said Diaz in the ring after the fight. He [Fortuna] was a warrior. I thought I would easily land body shots, but he’s a slick defensive fighter.

He’s very talented. I wish him the best and I hope he continues.”

There you have it. A great guy and a good sport, but a tough man, really tough.

Source: John J. Raspanti

www.sports24ghana.com