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Joseph Diaz Jr. and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov battle to a majority draw, IBF 130-pound title remains vacant

Diaz and Rakhimov battled to a majority draw. Photo by Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy
14
Feb

South El Monte, California native Joseph Diaz Jr. and Tajikistan-born Russian Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov fought to a majority draw tonight. One judge scored it 115-113 for Diaz, but was overruled by two 114-114 scores. Since Diaz (31-1-1, 15 knockouts) lost his junior lightweight title on the scale, neither man would leave the ring with the IBF 130-pound title.

“I’m a little upset,” Diaz said in the post-fight interview with DAZN commentator Beto Duran. “I thought I did enough to win the fight. It wasn’t my best performance obviously; I didn’t make weight. But it was a long layoff. I want to apologize to all my fans.”

“My conditioning was good. He felt my power and he started to box. The knockout would have come if he would have applied more pressure. I was landing effective shots whenever he did.”

When Duran asked Diaz about outside distractions and if he was disappointed about losing his title, the interview quickly went off the rails.

“All of the outside distractions are just bullshit,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who want to come into my life and make some money off of me. These guys are all greedy Don King motherfuckers man. Of course, I make mistakes in this world, I’m just like everyone else.

“I’m not disappointed at all. At the end of the day, I know who I am. I’m a hard worker. There was no sauna here with all of this COVID stuff (facility restrictions). They don’t have a gym here, no treadmill. They had me working out inside my room with the fucking heater on. It was completely different than how a professional, world title fight should be.”

“There’s no need to fucking please anybody. At the end of the day, I’m doing this for myself, I’m doing this for my family.”

This fight, which served as the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions card on DAZN, was a battle of southpaws. Diaz, the more experienced fighter, started well. The 2012 Olympian landed some hard punches in the first couple rounds. Perhaps the plan was to try to get rid of Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12 KOs) early, as conditioning was a concern for Team Diaz.

The former titleholder raised eyebrows Friday when he unprofessionally missed weight for the fight, coming in 3.6 pounds over the junior lightweight division limit at the weigh-in. The IBF subsequently stripped Diaz, meaning the title would be on the line for Rakhimov only.

Many questioned if Diaz would look sluggish in the ring against Rakhimov, but he looked fairly sharp early on. However, after a slow start, the Russian began to find his rhythm in the middle rounds.

Suddenly, the bout felt close and competitive. Diaz was being outworked. Rakhimov landed some hard shots in the seventh and eighth rounds that visibly moved the former titleholder. Could an upset be in the making?

Photo by Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy

The experience of Diaz proved to be the difference down the stretch. The former titleholder, coming off the longest layoff of his career, looked tired but bit down and closed strong. He needed to win the championship rounds and he appeared to do just that. It felt as if Rakhimov let an opportunity slip by.

CompuBox numbers showed a close fight. Diaz was credited with landing 233 of 740 total punches (32%), compared to 213 of 951 (22%) for Rakhimov. Diaz landed 193 power punches while Rakhimov connected on 169. Although the Russian was more active in all punching categories, the American was more accurate.

Rakhimov earned this opportunity by winning an IBF eliminator in his last fight, which took place September 2019 in South Africa. He was fighting outside of Russia for only the second time tonight. Diaz however was at his home away from home, fighting at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California for the eighth time as a pro.

 

Michael Montero can be found on social media via @MonteroOnBoxing. His podcast “The Neutral Corner” can be seen every Monday on TheRingDigital YouTube channel, and heard on audio podcast platforms around the world.

 

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