Friday, July 11, 2014

JoJo Diaz VS Ramiro Robles: Prospect WAR!

The Setup:

On the ninth of July, 2012 Olympian and Super Bantamweight prospect JoJo Diaz takes on significantly less hot Mexican Bantamweight prospect but statistically near-identical Ramiro Robles, at almost the same height, weight, age, reach and record. Diaz, with only eleven professional fights is coming off a UD over former world title challenger and current gatekeeper, at most, Luis Maldonado. Diaz is yet another prospect who is being closely followed in hopes of being a star. Just as the previous match on this card had notoriously shameful referee Russell Mora, this match has notoriously respected and likely top three regarded referee in the sport, Tony Weeks, who hasn't refereed since Mayweather/Maidana. Also noteworthy-both men are southpaws. Two southpaw prospects!

The Action:

This match turns into what was rightly a widely scored match in Diaz's favour, and yet, it was as good as any rightfully widely scored fight is ever going to be. In round one, Diaz seems to smell blood in the wrong place and unleashes on Robles as if he thinks he can blow him out early but he's not even close. Robles is fine, though did eat an awful lot of Diaz's assault. This is a tough guy, Robles, and he seems unintimidated from the get-go. It isn't a slow build to confidence. He is looking secure in what he can do from round one. Commentator Paulie Malignaggi is bang-on, as far as I can tell, in his assessment that Diaz is definitely the more gifted fighter, but while Robles doesn't have the ability to hang with him, athletically, from the outside, Diaz mostly allows for inside fighting when he's putting those fan-friendly combos together. And Robles mostly had an ability to answer for every combination he ate.

Diaz fires these great left uppercut/right hook combos and full-bodied hooks to the body, left and right. He's an excellent, diverse offensive fighter. The only thing missing is a well-timed jab in this match. Aside from the range giving Robles his best chance in the fight, Diaz blocks more, lands more, gets off faster, lands sharper, and counters better throughout the fight. It's a battle, it's hard-fought competition, but it's still a class difference. If there is a criticism on Diaz, it's that for the high level of talent, he didn't show the ring generalship to fully control a fight that maybe he could have controlled with different strategy. With more commitment to a jab, this may have been easier winning for JoJo. But that's not a guarantee, I suppose, and you cannot take away a thing from Robles, who is a warrior. His chin and his stamina are enviable.

Even though Robles is far from a good counter-puncher, as Malignaggi stated, he's ALWAYS there to answer back. He never lets Diaz run away with a round. I cannot state to you how important that is in the way this match played out. It could've been so easy to let Diaz move in and out and land his combinations out of discouragement, but while some fault is on Diaz for staying in for a reply, major props has to go to Robles for going after Diaz after every assault, as often as he could. He does not let the fight go, even with the gap in talent between the two. He keeps letting his hands go. He keeps committing to not being out-worked, even if he's out-skilled or out-sped. He never fought like a dejected opponent. He knew he was in it as long as he could land punches and he did, in each round, land something substantial. He was never broken and never put in a territory where it wasn't still competitive within the round. Really, this was war, no matter that one guy clearly got the better of it. By the penultimate round, Diaz had the bloody face to prove he didn't fight a pushover. 

It was not only impressive that the loser didn't get discouraged, but it was impressive that with such a determined guy that Diaz was so strongly favoured over, Diaz didn't get discouraged either. Lesser prospects would have had the wind taken out of their sails the first time they got this type of match with a genuinely hard man who refused to give in. Diaz UD10 Robles, and all on the up and up.

What it means: JoJo Diaz remains a hot prospect, got taken into deep waters in a way you want to see a prospect before they get a big shot in this sport. He passed with flying colours. I do feel there's a weakness there with his jab that he could work on but a very satisfying performer and hopeful prospect worthy of following. Robles puts himself on the map as a tough as nails, game as they get prospect. Both prove that they can go ten hard, grueling rounds. They have the heart, they have the conditioning, they have the mindset. Either of these guys should be welcome to future television cards. FS1 picks an excellent match and deserves credit for this one.

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

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