Facebook Watch results: Joseph Diaz Jr. edges Jesus M. Rojas
After a tough 12-round affair with Jesus M. Rojas, Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. earned a unanimous decision (117-111, 116-112, 115–113) to put himself back in the win column on Saturday night. The featherweight contest was the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions card held at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, California, and streamed live for the first time on Facebook Watch.
Diaz, 27-1 (14), had to work every second of every round in order to get the edge in many close stanzas. His hand speed and volume punching were the catalysts to his success against a fighter with heavy hands and an obvious drive for the one violent punch that would end it all in one fell swoop. In the second, Rojas’ strength was exemplified when a right hand bopped Diaz on the nose and made it bleed sporadically throughout the rest of the fight. Whenever one of those big shots would land cleanly – most of which came to the body – Diaz would fall into an offensive lapse and let the Puerto Rican get into an offensive rhythm, beginning in the third round.
Rojas, 26-2-2 (19), whose WBA “regular” featherweight trinket wasn’t on the line, after Diaz missed weight yesterday, kept pressing forward, despite getting hit with quick, three-punch combinations around his guard, but his persistence paid off once the fight morphed into a toe-to-toe battle, in the early stages of the middle rounds. How Diaz was coaxed into such a fight, only he may know, but that style favored Rojas, as he then had a stationary target to wail on and try different variations of throwing one of his thunderous right hands. Diaz would answer back, seemingly knowing how many more shots he had to throw in order to overshadow what Rojas had just done, but that kind of action made for an entertaining scrap. During those middle rounds, it’s worth pointing out that referee Raul Caiz Jr. wasn’t minding the body shots that strayed low and both men firmly took advantage.
As good as the fight was to watch, many of the middle rounds weren’t easy to score. There were only 22 jabs landed between the two by the end and Diaz edged Rojas in total punches 237 to 202, according to CompuBox. What those numbers didn’t show were how much cleaner the shots Diaz landed were compared to Rojas’. As the fight entered the later rounds, you could see both men tiring and their faces showing the extent of the type of fight they were in. Diaz seemed to find a second wind in the final round, showing the wherewithal that he was in a close one.
“We won but unfortunately I don’t get to come home a world champion because of weight issues,” said Diaz. “I switched my diet this camp because I feel like my body has been changing and I did something I never usually do to try to make weight. That is what made my body respond in a scary way, with my arm tingling and just feeling super-fatigued. If the opportunity comes, I still want a fight at 126 pounds with any of the big guys but, if that doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t be opposed to moving up to 130. Rojas came to fight. I don’t think people expected for this to be a tough fight but it was. I would be willing to get a rematch with him.”
Jonathan “Thunder” Navarro scored a brutal knockout of Damon Allen Jr. in the seventh round to walk away as the unbeaten prospect. The junior welterweight contest was scheduled for eight rounds.
Navarro, 15-0 (8), peppered Allen with right hands to the head, as referee Zac Young stepped in to wave it off in the seventh round but the destruction started before then. In the final second of the sixth, a chopping right hand hurt Allen badly, as the bell sounded. A second later, he was fumbling to the floor and Young didn’t seem to have a clue of what to do, signaling Damon to get up and sit on his stool, as he laid there on the canvas. No knockdown was ruled and Allen eventually got there but it was clear that he was out on his feet as everyone waited for the seventh round to start. Once it did, Allen couldn’t hide his wobbly legs and he was a stationary target for Navarro, who was patient in trying to deliver the knockout blow.
“I feel great. Stepping up in class really made the difference. (Allen) took everything out of me. He’s a prospect and he’s hungry and he brought a lot out of me,” said Navarro. “I knew that once he felt my power, he would be out. I’m ready for whatever is next. I have to talk to my dad, my manager and Golden Boy Promotions but I’m ready for anything.”
Allen, 15-1-1 (5), didn’t seem fit to even start the seventh and took a lot of punishment as a result. His subtle body work may’ve won him a round or two but he often strayed too low for Young, who docked a point from him in the third.
“It just wasn’t my night – he had the better class and action plan and we just came up short. We’re both top prospects and we knew it was going to be a war in there,” said Allen, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “I failed to keep my hands up and let him take control of me. I have to go back to the drawing board and see what’s next. I’ll be back – we just have to re-evaluate some things.”
Ferdinand “Lucky Boy” Kerobyan, 10-0 (5), got a shutout unanimous decision win over Jose Carlos Rivera, 6-4 (4), to remain unbeaten. All three judges were in agreement, handing in identical scores of 60-54.
“I came to give a great performance to the fans and to my family. I feel so blessed to be a part of the first Facebook Watch show and I hope my performance tonight shows that I’m capable of taking advantage of these opportunities,” said Kerobyan, an Armenian junior middleweight from North Hollywood. “I wanted to get the knockout but I am pleased with the result we got tonight. (Rivera) was tough and we were able to get some good exchanges. I look forward to jumping back into the ring soon.”
In the opening bout of the Facebook Watch stream, Aaron “Silencer” McKenna earned a shutout unanimous decision win over Rolando Mendivil after four rounds of sustained action.
McKenna, 5-0 (3), an Irish welterweight prospect out of Santa Monica, California, offered another example of why he’s a young talent to watch, as he led a very good action fight. Mendivil, 10-5 (3), was big enough to match McKenna’s tall frame but didn’t nearly have the same level of technique and offensive volume. A left to the body in the opening round set the tone for McKenna, 19, but his jab was far superior than his opponent’s over the course of the fight. Starting in the second, Mendivil, Sinaloa, Mexico, started to initiate some good exchanges but the third round was where the best action of the fight happened. McKenna even fought a portion of it after his mouthpiece got knocked out but that didn’t hinder him from throwing his one-two to the head. McKenna capped the fight off with a dominant fourth round, in which his jab was timed well enough to control Mendivil and show another dimension of his overall skill.
“Being a part of the ‘Golden Boy Fight Night’ on Facebook Watch was amazing. I’m glad that I get to be a part of boxing history and that my family from back home can watch,” said McKenna. “I thought that we did great – I went in there with an opponent with more experience than me, who was ready to go in. I learned a lot from those four full rounds. I’m looking forward to going back into the ring with an opponent Golden Boy Promotions and my team think would be a good fit for me.”
In the opening bout of the Golden Boy Promotions card, Jose Vargas scored three knockdowns in his third round knockout of Leonardo Reyes. The junior featherweight contest was scheduled for four rounds.
“I’m barely starting out, so everything I do still needs work,” said Vargas after the win. “I’m glad we got the knockout and now it’s back to the drawing board to prepare for the next one.”
From Pasadena, California, Vargas, 5-0 (3), didn’t have a feeling-out process. His left hook came early and often, with bad intentions and, soon enough, his Mexican opponent was on the canvas twice before the first three minutes of the fight concluded. Out of Tijuana, Reyes, 7-18 (3), tried his best to hook with Vargas’ left but wasn’t as quick or accurate. It made for solid action leading up to the third round, in which Vargas landed a nice combination that started with a right to the body and a left to the head. Reyes was counted out, securing Vargas a clean stoppage win.