By Charles Jay
The Olympic dreams of American bantamweight Joseph Diaz Jr., affectionately known as “Jo-Jo,” have come to an end.
Diaz went into Wednesday’s action at London’s ExCeL Arena as an exciting possibility for medal contention, but at the same time giving up something in the way of experience and accomplishment to his second round foe, Lazaro Alvarez Estrada, who was the 2011 World Amateur Championships winner in the bantamweight class and also the #2-rated boxer in the world according to AIBA.
Alvarez, who had beaten Diaz before, in the quarterfinals of those 2011 World Championships, came out on the winning end yet again, though Diaz has made some progress.
The final scoring total of 21-15 was indicative of the fact that the action was spirited and competitive. Certainly the first round set the tone. Diaz was aggressive and landed scoring blows, but Alvarez is slick, and he worked his way into a 7-6 lead at the bell. When Alvarez extended his lead to four points after two rounds, it proved to be decisive.
Unless Diaz decides he wants to hold out for the next Olympics, it appears he will try to follow in the footsteps of idol Oscar De La Hoya in the pro ranks. With both parents limited to part-time work, the money available from a pro contract could come along at an opportune time.
Alvarez is unquestionably a young star. Only 21 years of age, he did have a two-year age advantage against Diaz, who is the youngest member of the U.S team, but he has only recently emerged on the world scene. He has now won the World Championships, in addition to the Pan American Games, and it would appear that his major competition for the gold was going to be Tajikstan’s Anvar Yunusov, who icame into the tournament as AIBA’s #1 in this weight class. On his way to winning the world tournament last year, however, Alvarez did beat Yunusov in the semifinals. 18-13. But it doesn’t matter now, since Yusunov lost in the his Wednesday match against Oscar Valdez Fierro of Mexico. For Alvarez, that might just make things easier.