On Friday night Joseph "Jojo" Diaz (31-1-1, 15) became the former IBF Super Featherweight champion , losing the title on the scales ahead of a mandatory defense against unbeaten Russian based Tajik fighterShavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12). As well as losing the title Diaz lost 20% of his purse for missing, which he did by more than 3lbs.
Despite Diaz missing weight the bout went on, with Rakhimov able to win the IBF title if he won the bout and the bout remaining vacant with any other result.
Regardless of the pre-fight hiccup on the scales, the bout looked like a fantastic one on paper, between two men liked to let their shots fly and had different styles, but busy styles.
In the opening round it was Diaz who seemed to settle quickly, whilst Rakhimov looked really tense, and the tension of Rakhimov showed through the first 2 rounds before he began to relax. When that happened the Tajik began to really find his groove, and from round 3 his activity seemed to catch the eye time and time again. Prior to that happening however he was tagged by some left hands from Diaz who seemed to try and set a high pace and get his nose in front.
What the Tajik was doing was letting 3 and 4 punch combinations go, then getting out of range, resetting, and doing the same. He was mixing up his hooks, uppercuts and straight shot, and although many shots were landing on the gloves of Diaz he was essentially handcuffing the former champion, out working him, and did enough to leave blood trickling from the former champion's nose.
From rounds 3 to 9 it seemed like Rakhimov was racking up the rounds, and he even managed to shake Diaz twice, as his power showed. Sadly though Rakhimov was doing a lot, and not getting as much success as he'd wanted. He was landing to head, and body, but rarely having sustained success and was visibly slowing by round 9, though Diaz wasn't making him pay.
Sadly for Rakhimov his high work rate in the middle portion of the bout did take a major toll as the went into the later stages, and from round 10 Diaz began to surge. He was forcing Rakhimov back and Rakhimov's own combinations were becoming less and less frequent. In fact if anything it was the clean punches of Diaz that were now catching the eye as the pace slowed. That allowed the American back in to the bout and really closed the gap on the scorecards.
Despite both men being wobbled through the bout, and a solid number of shots being landed by both men, the bout went the 12 rounds, and we got the scores.
The first was 115-113 to Diaz, a score that was within the realms of reasonability. That judge was however over-ruled by two scores of 114-114, resulting in a majority draw.
As a result of the draw the title remains vacant, and we can't help but think that Rakhimov will be kicking himself. He seemed well on the way to winning, but his gas tank ran low and he couldn't keep up his success in the later stages. Regardless we expect to see Rakhimov get another world title shot sooner rather than later.
As for Diaz, he'll be gutted he lost his title on the scales, and we do genuinely, wonder what division he'll be competing at going forward, whether he takes his career seriously and moved back to 130lbs or leaves the division to join the ranks at Lightweight.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.