SAN DIEGO, Calif., January 30, 2020 – Championship fights on the undercard delivered quality boxing action on Thursday at the Meridian at Island Gardens in Miami. Two underdogs became new world champions in skilled performances.
And the new: Diaz Jr delivers defeat to Farmer
After months of trash talk, Joseph Diaz Jr. of South El Monte, California, backed it up with the best performance of his career, defeating Tevin Farmer of Philadelphia to become the new IBF World Super Featherweight champion. Scorecards were 116-114 and 115 for Diaz (31-1, 15 KOs). Farmer now moves to 30-5-1, 6 KOs.
Farmer has been among the most active champions in boxing, in command during his five title defenses. Boxing fans kept clamoring for Farmer to face Gervonta “Tank” Davis and other bigger names. But it was Diaz Jr. who forced the fight after a confrontation between the two in a Las Vegas casino despite skepticism it would be competitive.
Diaz Jr. suffered a significant cut around the left eye in round 2. Thanks to terrific work by cutman Ben Lira, it wasn’t a factor. It may have even spurred him on. By contrast, Farmer never got past second gear. He looked tired or uncomfortable or both. True or not, it doesn’t give the proper credit to Diaz Jr. for his performance. He was busier, more accurate, defensive, and smarter.
Diaz Jr. said the cut didn’t change the fight at all. His approach: complete denial. “I just pretended it wasn’t there. I didn’t even want to look at it. I just looked at it right, that’s just f***** deadly. It’s ugly as hell,” laughed Diaz Jr.
“I didn’t want to change the game plan at all,” said Diaz Jr. “If I was to change the game plan, then I probably would have gotten too tense, gotten a little more frustrated, and got tight in the later round. I still kept my composure, I kept trusting my corner, my father, Joel (Diaz), Ben Lira, I listened to their instructions and got the W.”
Farmer didn’t make any excuses for his performance. “He played a hell of a fight, that’s all I can say,” said Farmer, but added he hurt his right hand in the first round. “I couldn’t use my jab like I wanted to. But he got the job done tonight. There’re no excuses. I couldn’t use my jab like I wanted to. But he capitalized on it, that’s what world champions do.”
After all the bad blood, Diaz Jr. embraced Farmer in the ring at the start of round 12 and returned the compliment after the bout. “Tevin Farmer, I just want to say, he’s a hell of a fighter. No matter what you guys say about him, he’s been through everything … I respect him and thank him for giving me this opportunity. I know we’re going to have a rematch, so we’ll run it back,” said Diaz Jr.
Farmer said he hoped the rematch would take place as early as April or May, but the significant cut will take longer to heal. Farmer’s promoter Lou DiBella was concerned enough about Farmer’s demeanor to take him to a local hospital to be checked for any medical issues.
Diaz Jr. showed what a fighter gains in experience and craft from a loss like his defeat in a title fight against Gary Russell Jr. in 2018. Diaz Jr. believed it made him better equipped now to take a title away from Farmer, and he was right. The rematch will be worth the wait.
#AndTheNew: Akhmadaliev edges Roman
If Danny Roman had fought the previous 11 rounds as he did the 12th, he would still be the unified WBA/IBF World Super Bantamweight champion. Instead, Roman of Los Angeles (27-3-1, 10 KOS) fought a little too cautiously against Murodjon “MJ” Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KOs), who won a split decision victory over Roman to become boxing’s first world champion from Uzbekistan. Scores were 115-113 X 2 for Akhmadaliev, and 115-113 for Roman.
An emotional Akhmadaliev said, “I cannot describe what I’m feeling. I’ve never been a world champion in my life. I’m the first from Uzbekistan in just eight fights, it’s amazing. That’s something incredible, thank you so much,” added the 25-year-old as he credited both his amateur trainer and current trainer, Joel Diaz, along with his many sparring partners including Joseph Diaz, Jr.
The former champion showed his class and champion’s attitude after the loss. “I think I won the fight; it was a close fight. MJ’s a hell of a fighter, strong fighter. He beat me the first couple of rounds. I made the adjustments. It was a close fight,” said Roman.
“MJ‘s a complicated fighter. I had a plan about the last minute it changed. He was the better fighter tonight,” admitted Roman.
Akhmadaliev pressed the action from the opening bell, scoring with power punches to Roman while remaining elusive thanks to his foot speed. Roman began countering to the body when he began getting more of a fix on his opponent by the fourth round, but not in enough volume to slow Akhmadaliev down. Roman made uppercuts work for him, but Akhmadaliev’s defense held up well, and he was the busier offensive fighter.
Both trainers encouraged their fighters in the second half of the fight to pick up the action. Both had moments, and by the 10th round, both had cuts, though they didn’t end up a factor in the fight. Akhmadaliev came to the fight in outstanding condition, and in a close fight against a tough opponent, it made the difference, especially when Roman went to town in the final round. But it was not quite enough.
“Danny Roman is the most proven 122 pounder in the world,” said Akhmadaliev. “I know exactly who I’m fighting. I was prepared for the best fighter in my division. It was a tough fight … No one ever believed I would be something. Today I am the first champion from Uzbekistan.”
Why did Roman take such a risky mandatory challenge, instead of dropping the single WBA belt? “I’m a fighter. I’ll fight anybody you put in front of me,” said Roman. “He was the mandatory. These things happen in boxing. You have to assess the victory and assess the defeat as well. This is only going to make me stronger and a better fighter, like the two other losses I’ve got,” said Roman.
Andrade rolls over Keeler
The main event would normally lead our column, but it wasn’t the night’s significant fight. Headliner Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade of Philadelphia (29-0, 18 KOs) retained his WBO World Middleweight title with ease against Luke Keeler of Ireland (17-3-1, 5 KOs) in his third title defense. Andrade won via TKO at 2:59 of Round 9.
Andrade scored a knockdown in the opening seconds of the fight. Andrade took criticism for not closing the show when scoring an early knockdown in prior bouts. He was determined not to let it happen again, diving toward Keeler and blasting him with power shots. It woke up the waning crowd losing focus after midnight in Miami on a weeknight card. Andrade scored his second knockdown with a hard left hand, and Keeler fell hard. He managed to get to his feet and survive the second round. Trainer Pete Taylor told Keeler between rounds he needed to show him something. The end was already inevitable.
But it didn’t come immediately. Keeler fought on for seven more rounds before Andrade decided to turn up the heat with volume as well as power. Referee Telis Assimenios watched the damaged Keeler like a hawk and swooped in to stop the fight when it crossed the line to beatdown.
“I thought it was good, you know, Keeler is a warrior and a future champion one day. Today was my day,” said Andrade. “I went in there thinking to myself, ‘I can put him out,’ and I did. I’ve got more knockdowns than I do fights. I’m entertaining, baby.”
The most avoided champion in the middleweight division says he is willing to move up to super-middleweight to fight Billy Joe Saunders. “I can whup his ass too,” said Andrade. “Eddie Hearn said he sent the offer; we’ll wait for the response. … Everybody stay tuned. The boogeyman is here.”
Credit to Keeler for taking on Andrade when so many other middleweights avoid him, and to Andrade for staying busy. But now promoter Eddie Hearn must deliver a more significant fight for Andrade in short order.
Jake Paul wins in short order over Ali Eson Gib
Jake Paul won his professional light heavyweight “debut” against Ali Eson Gib of Saudi Arabia via London home in short order, winning by TKO at 2:18 of the first round. The fight was just plain awkward. Paul scored two knockdowns, and the referee had seen enough, given the inexperience of the participants.
“That was lit,” said Paul. “I caught the boxing bug I put the work in. I’m in love with this sport. My speed and power took him out in the first round,” said Paul. Credit to trainer, recent Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Sugar “Shane” Mosley, for teaching him enough to make it happen.
Undercard results: Serrano, Williams, Espino score KOs; Angulo upsets Sims
Super middleweight Anthony Sims Jr. (20-1, 18 KOs) seemed to be sleepwalking in the ring against Roamer Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) of Columbia. He simply wasn’t busy enough in the ring, allowing Angulo to score a majority decision win. Scorecards were 96-93 X 2 for Angulo, and 95-94 for Sims Jr. The promising prospect can learn and recover from this experience. Angulo’s single loss to Gilberto Ramirez will become less important with more solid performances.
Unified world featherweight champion Amanda Serrano (38-1, 28 KOS) was not challenged by Simone da Silva of Brazil (17-15, 6 KOs), taking the fight right to her and winning by TKO at 53 seconds of Round 3. Serrano switched gears from training for an MMA fight to take the bout and scored the stoppage via a body shot.
Middleweight prospect Austin “Ammo” Williams (5-0, 4 KOs) needed multiple knockdowns to finally stop a tough Donald Sanchez (5-3, 3 KOs) of Albuquerque. Williams got the job done with straight lefts and hooks to the body, finally accumulating enough damage for a referee stoppage at 2:51 of round 4.
Alexis Espino of Las Vegas (5-0, 4 KOs) stopped an opponent 15 years his senior in Vincent Baccus (4-2-1, 2 KOs) with a wicked left hook, winning by third-round TKO. Trained by Robert Garcia, 20-year-old Espino is among the most promising super middleweights. At 6-foot-1, it’s easy to imagine him eventually competing in the hot light heavyweight division.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Instagram and Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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