Diaz Scores Knockout; Top Rank Prospects Shine


Diaz Scores Knockout; Top Rank Prospects Shine
By: James Cullinane

WBO Youth Featherweight Champion Christopher ‘Pitufo’ Diaz (21 – 0; 13 KO) stopped Jose ‘Hollywood’ Estrella (18 -12- 1; 12 KO) in the third round of the Solo Boxeo Main Event at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, leading a contingent of young, Top Rank prospects who all emerged victorious Friday night.

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Diaz, from Puerto Rico, came out strong scoring a knockdown early in the first round with a left hook that snuck around Estrella’s high guard and landed flush against the Mexican’s temple. After surviving the opening round, Estrella fought back with several flourishes in the second, but Diaz proved the more effective boxer, countering with speed and precision to land clean and stop any momentum Estrella hoped to build.

In the third round, Diaz stalked Estrella around the ring, landing hard shots and seeming determined to finish his night early. Midway through the round, Diaz forced Estrella against the ropes and landed a booming right to the head followed by a left to the temple that dropped Estrella to his knee. Referee Telis Assimenios began the count, but quickly changed his mind and waved the fight off 1:45 into the round as Estrella stayed on his knee, the fight taken out of him.

In the Co-Main Event, rising, Top Rank featherweight, and fan favorite, Jean Carlos ‘Chapito’ Rivera (11 – 0; 6 KO), outclassed his opponent, Jesus Pacheco (7 – 6; 1 KO) to keep his professional record perfect. Appearing in his first eight-rounder, Rivera easily went the distance to score a unanimous decision (79 – 72) despite having a point deducted for a low blow in the final round.

Drawing chants of “Chapito” throughout the bout, the 21 year-old who resides in Orlando, displayed speed and elusiveness as Pachero punched air trying to land against the shifty fighter. At one point, Rivera dodged a succession of eight punches, bopping and weaving to the delight of the crowd and the frustration of Pachero.

Offensively, Rivera rocked Pachero in the second round with a left hook, followed by a right, left combo that slowed Pachero. In the 5th, Rivera scored in the final minute of the round with another left hook followed by a right to Pachero’s chin. In the 7th, Rivera finished the round with another left, right combo that hurt Pachero just before the bell and effectively sealed the win for Rivera.

On the undercard, three former Olympians, all recent Top Rank signees, continued their respective climbs up the rankings with impressive performances.

Teofima Lopez (4 – 0; 4 KO), who represented Honduras in the 2016 Olympics, dominated Jorge Luis Munguia (12 – 9; 4 KO), winning by knockout 48 seconds into the second round of their lightweight match. From the opening bell, Lopez jumped all over Munguia, landing several, crisp combinations and a hard left late in the round that staggered the overmatched opponent.

Staying aggressive, Lopez finished the fight with a cracking body shot to the gut of Munguia who remained upright momentarily before taking a knee as he felt the full effect of the punch. Referee Frank Santore then waved off the fight as it was apparent Munguia wanted no more. It was Lopez’s fourth straight knockout to start his professional career.

2016 US Olympic Bantamweight, Antonio Vargas (2 – 0; 2 KO), fighting professionally for the first time at home in Kissimmee, was even more aggressive than Lopez as he dispatched opponent Emilio Rivera (0 – 2) in less than one round.

Coming out swinging, Vargas landed a right to Rivera’s jaw ten seconds into the opening round that dropped Rivera to the canvas. After the mandatory eight-count, Vargas continued the onslaught with several combinations, utilizing his speed and strength to overpower the hapless Rivera.

A ripping, overhand right from Vargas sent Rivera back to the canvas and the fight was called off by referee Massimo Montanini at 1:52 of the first round.

In the opening match of the night, Jeyvier Cintron (1 – 0), the only boxer to ever qualify twice for the Puerto Rican Olympic Boxing Team, made his professional debut, winning a unanimous decision (40 – 36) over Leonardo Reyes (6 – 13; 2 KO).

Trained by former world champion, Ivan Calderon, Cintron, scored a knockdown in each of the first two rounds to seize control of the fight early. Behind his effective jab, Cintron landed uppercuts and body blows at will and dominated the action from to start to finish as he coasted to the win.

Completing the night’s card were two fighters from co-promoter All-Star Boxing who provided the most excitement of the night, including knockout of the night.

In a show of raw strength, interim WBO Latino Welterweight Champion, Sammy ‘Hurricane’ Valentin (12 – 0; 9 KO), from Tampa, Florida leveled Columbian boxer Luis Florez (22 -7; 18 KO) with a vicious right to the chin that felled the taller opponent like a tree 1:51 into the first round of their scheduled eight-rounder.

The action started when Florez landed a solid, body shot into Valentin’s ribs one minute into the opening round. Valentin absorbed the blow, forced a smile, then immediately went on the attack, forcing Florez up against the ropes with a flurry of combinations. Trying to escape, Florez bounced off the ropes, spinning to his left as Valentin unleashed a right hook that hit Florez square on the bottom of the chin to score the knockout of the night.

Florez fell backward and remained on the canvas long after the fight was called as ringside doctors attended the unconscious boxer. After several minutes, Florez finally came around and was helped to his stool, seemingly okay. In a show of good sportsmanship, Valentin then walked to Florez’s corner to check on the condition of his opponent and offer words of encouragement.

In what has to be considered the fight of the night, All-Star Boxing’s Nestor Bravo (10 -0; 6 KO), from Puerto Rico, edged out Mexican Victor Rosas (9 – 6; 3 KO) in a hard fought, back and forth six-rounder.

A competitive fight from the beginning, Bravo used his reach advantage to keep Rosas at bay for the first two rounds and appeared to be the more effective puncher. The shorter Rosas kept coming in low, staying under many of Bravo’s shots, which led to a lot of cinching and spinning as the fighters were continually locking up.

Things changed in the third as Rosas came out swinging, landing three hard lefts in succession that stunned Bravo and momentarily tilted the fight in Rosas favor. Bravo bravely held on as Rosas tried to finish the job, then summoned some deep strength to come back in the second half of the round, finishing with a hard, body shot to Rosas mid-section.

Fully recovered, Bravo took back the fight in the fourth, controlling the action and landing several clean blows against the tiring Rosas. This continued in the fifth round as Bravo came out strong to start the round, never letting Rosas get any clean shots or momentum.

In the final round, seemingly down on the cards, Rosas was able to make one last push midway through the round, launching a right hand that rocked Bravo and nearly knocked him out. Stunned and backpedaling, Bravo has just enough left in the tank to avoid any more damage, dancing away from any serious blows and surviving to see the end of the round.

In a tough fight to score, the judges voted unanimously in favor of Bravo by the score of 58-56 in the most exciting fight of the evening.

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