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Ringside by Jacob Chavez
Photos by John Booz

Chicago fight fans were treated to an explosive boxing action Saturday night, when two former world champions with Chicago roots clashed in unbelievable fashion. Both lightweights, "Dangerous" David Diaz (35-2-1, 17 KOs) and Jesus "El Matador" Chavez (44-6-0, 30 KOs) were known for being good friends, but that was forgotten when they went toe-to-toe for ten intense rounds.

The grueling match went the distance and resulted in a majority win for Diaz.

fightnews.comFight fans were split down the middle in their support for each fighter. Every time a chant would start for either one, boos and chants for the other would drown out the initial rally.

There was no staredown; instead the fighters hugged amiably and proceeded to pound each other at the sound of the bell. Chavez landed the first blow, as he popped the left-handed Diaz with a crisp right-cross to the head. This set the tone for the remainder of the stanza, as Chavez connected with another right cross, moments later, then proceeded to punish the body very effectively. Diaz' wife was sitting close to his corner and she could be heard pleading with him to keep his guard up. He must have heard her, as he took on an assault from Chavez early in round two but opened up with his own punches during the second half. This prompted Chavez to switch to southpaw with about a minute left in the round.

fightnews.comRound three saw plenty of action, as both fighters came out loading up with power punches. Chavez was not nearly as elusive as in rounds one and two, with Diaz finding a home for the right uppercut to the head, landing it repeatedly.

Rounds four and five had the nearly 3,500 fans in attendance on their feet with appreciation. Both fighters did plenty of damage as they traded toe-to-toe, but Diaz continued to connect with the right uppercut.

Chavez stepped things up in the sixth, relentlessly attacking while in the pocket. The exchanges on the inside caused for a clash of heads which cut Diaz badly over the right eye.

Chavez was, again, more effective in the seventh, pummeling the body some more and keeping Diaz on the defensive. Near the end of the round, Diaz responded in hopes of stealing the round and again the crowd got on its feet as they traded unmercifully.

fightnews.comThe brutal pace continued in the eight and ninth with back-and-forth exchanges, but with Diaz reasserting himself and showing more effective punching and accuracy.

They hugged for the final round and, once again, traded violently. Early on, it was Chavez taking the edge but Diaz rallied later and finished very strong with stiff combinations.

The judges scored the match 95-95, 97-93, 96-94 for Diaz. During post fight interviews Diaz expressed a goal of a second world championship before he retires.

Chavez wished him the best and finished off with, "Now let's go have a beer."

fightnews.comMartinez defeats Hernandez

The co-main event featured a tough outing for local featherweight favorite Jose Hernandez (22-5-0, 14 KOs) against Juan Carlos Martinez

(17-11-1, 7 KOs). Martinez won the fight handedly and controlled the action throughout with slick counter-punching and stinging right crosses.

Hernandez showed good skills in the opening round, boxing and picking his punches well. He managed to keep Martinez thinking early on, but in round two, Martinez got more comfortable and began countering his taller opponent effectively. Hernandez continued to box and press forward in rounds three and four, but Martinez was just too evasive and landed the heavier shots, keeping Hernandez in a limited state.

Hernandez looked to make some adjustments in the sixth, sitting down more on his punches and increasing his activity. This momentarily neutralized Martinez, but he engaged and traded with Hernandez moments before the bell, and again proved more effective.

The seventh round was one-sided for Martinez; he continued showing good angles and a difficult style to figure out for Hernandez. For the remainder of the match Hernandez showed good heart but lacked the power to offset Martinez' power and confidence.

The judges all saw it for Martinez, 97-93 and 98-92 twice.

Baier dodges bullet

Super featherweight Diamond Baier (2-0-1, 0 KOs) dodged a bullet against a very determined opponent in Jose Guzman (6-3-0, 5 KOs).

The left-handed Baier appeared to intimidate Guzman early with his speed and sharper punches, but Guzman took some chances in round two and they paid off. He focused on a stiff jab and a short counter right on the inside. This slowed Baier significantly and in round three, Guzman further pressed the action and managed to cut Baier badly over the right eye with a right cross.

Guzman looked to close the show in the fourth but got a bit too excited, as he opened up with wider punches against the dangerous Baier. Baier took advantage and connected with a right to the head. The punch did land but it had more of a pushing effect to it than a damaging one. Regardless of the protests from Guzman and his corner, referee Pete Podgorski ruled it a knockdown and this made the difference in the fight.

They went the distance and all three judges gave the fight to Baier by one point, 38-37.

Popoca impresses

Junior welterweight Rey Ivan Popoca (12-0-1, 8 KOs) put on an impressive performance against a very slick Mike Gonzalez (10-6-1, 9 KOs), knocking him out in the sixth round.

Popoca came out looking to box but was lured midway into the round into trading. He was very successful with either approach, as he rocked Gonzalez right a hard left hook on the inside. Popoca boxed early in round two but again resorted to pressuring and punishing Gonzalez.

In round three Gonzalez tried to turn the momentum in his favor as he connected with a big left hook that sent Popoca stumbling backwards. He then pounced on Popoca in the corner and looked to rally.

His success was short-lived, as Popoca came back strong in rounds four and five. Round six proved to be too much for Gonzalez, battered and beaten, his corner looked on very closely as he was truly on survival mode. With a minute into the round, a pummeling combination landed for Popoca, sending Gonzalez staggering backwards. Just as his corner was throwing in the towel, he collapsed in the corner.

The end came at 1:34. Sandoval is the brother of headliner, two-time former world champion Jesus "El Matador" Chavez.

Sandoval survives knockdown

Lightweight Jaime Sandoval (16-4-1, 12 KOs) survived a first round knockdown to win a close unanimous decision against Oscar De La Cruz (5-8-0, 2 KOs).

Having survived the knockdown in the opening stanza, Sandoval proceeded to trade with De La Cruz, wearing him down and forcing him to slow considerably. The effectiveness that De La Cruz showed was his shorter punches and compact stance against the taller Sandoval. But Sandoval didn't allow for any breathing room and controlled the action down the stretch with a good jab and combinations to the body.

All three judges scored it the same, 57-56 for Sandoval.

Esho remains undefeated

Welterweight Achour Esho (4-0-0, 3 KOs) kept his undefeated record in tact by beating up a heavily outmatched Ricky Thompson (1-7-0, 1 KO) in just two rounds.

Thompson went down once in the first and two times in the second before Referee Gerald Scott mercifully stopped the mauling.

The time was 2:10 of round two.

Latoria dominates Williams

Heavyweight David Latoria (3-0-0, 2 KOs) dominated Jeremiah Williams (0-3) over four rounds.

The taller Latoria found his range with his jab early on and kept his cautious opponent circling the ring for most of the fight. In round two a hard right cross dropped Williams hard, but to his credit, he got up and made it to the final bell.

Latoria easily won unanimously, as all three judges scored the fight the same 40-35.



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