Oscar Diaz succumbs to injuries from 2008 fight
Oscar Diaz, who collapsed in the ring during a bout televised on “ESPN2 Friday Night Fights” in 2008, has died. He was 32 years old.
The San Antonio, Texas, native’s death was related to the brain injury he sustained during an 11th-round loss to Delvin Rodriguez, the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed to local TV station KSAT 12.
Pro boxer Jerson Ravelo, who trained alongside Diaz for years at the Red Brick Gym in Newark, New Jersey, remembers him as a “special guy” who always gave it his all in the ring.
“Oscar was a class act, very down to earth, eager to make it in the sport. He couldn’t wait to get his break,” Ravelo remembers. “This guy was so nice it was even hard to picture him in the ring fighting. But once he got in that ring, the warrior side of him came out.”
Calls to his trainer Tommy Brooks and promoter Donna Duva-Brooks were not immediately returned.
Diaz, whose final record stands at 26-3 (12 knockouts), was a rangy welterweight at 5-foot-10 but was known for getting in close and brawling away. He turned professional in 2001, going 17-0 before his first loss, to Ebo Elder in 2004. Diaz reestablished himself quickly, winning seven straight against fringe contenders like Jesse Feliciano, Al Gonzalez and Chris Smith.
Another setback, this time an 11th-round knockout loss to Golden Johnson, put Diaz’s future as a contender in jeopardy. After a pair of tune-ups, Diaz stepped up to face Rodriguez with a shot at a world title at stake.
Two days before that fateful night at the Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio, he intimated to this writer how desperate he was to succeed.
“My back is against the wall in this fight,” Diaz said. “I have to go out there and show everyone I’m still capable of being one of the best and champion some day.”
For 10 rounds Diaz absorbed right hand after right hand as his eyes swelled, waiting on an opportunity for his own big shot to reverse the trend. It never happened.
Following the 10th round, referee Robert Gonzalez came over to check if Diaz was fit to continue the fight. Something occurred and Diaz screamed as his legs gave way. His handlers sat him down on his stool and he went limp.
He was carried out on a stretcher in front of his hometown crowd and remained in a coma for two months, unable to breathe on his own.
The ensuing years saw Diaz hospitalized numerous times with pneumonia and other complications, according to reports.
Funeral arrangements are still pending at the time of publishing.
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.