LAS VEGAS – Junior lightweight contender Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz battered Freddy Fonseca until the fight was stopped in round seven on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
Diaz improved to 29-1, 15 knockouts, with the showcase victory on the Canelo Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs undercard.
Diaz promised he would give Fonseca a beating after both fighters shoved each other during the customary face-off at Thursday’s press conference.
Diaz kept his word as he was the aggressor from the opening bell, initiating exchanges and outlanding Fonseca early on. As the fight progressed, Diaz’s punch output increased, putting Fonseca on the defensive.
Towards the end of the sixth round, Diaz hurt Fonseca to the head. Moments later, an accumulation of punches dropped Fonseca to the canvas. Fonseca beat the count and made it out of the round.
Diaz picked up where he left off during round seven, letting his hands go and ripping combinations to the head. As Fonseca was getting beat, his corner threw in the towel, prompting referee Kenny Bayless to stop the fight at 2:07.
Saturday night marked Diaz’s second fight at 130 pounds. He has been angling for a world title shot against any of the world titleholders in the division, particularly against Tevin Farmer. Both of them verbally went at it before Thursday’s press conference.
“I felt good,” said Diaz, who is managed by Ralph Heredia. “I feel comfortable at this weight. I couldn’t make 126 pounds, but I feel stronger at 130 pounds. I can showcase my skills, my head movement. I don’t feel fatigued as in the later rounds when I fought at 126 pounds.
Diaz’s only loss of his career was against WBC featherweight titleholder Gary Russell, Jr. last May. He would defeat Jesus Rojas in his next bout in August, but was not able to win a secondary world title belt because he was over the 126-pound limit.
Diaz admitted going through a state of depression after the Rojas fight.
“I was dealing with depression and I was almost at the end of the road, I was at rock bottom last year. I was going through a lot, a lot of people don’t realize this. I was really going through some tough, tough times. I want to thank my mom, my sisters, my family, God almighty, for not doing anything stupid. Anyone suffering from depression, trust me, everything is going to be okay.”
Fonseca, who hails from Managua, Nicaragua, falls to 26-3-1, 17 KOs.
Also on the undercard, Diaz’s fellow junior lightweight contender Lamont Roach defeated veteran Jonathan Oquendo by unanimous decision.
Oquendo was the aggressor from the beginning of the fight, walking Roach down in an attempt to fight in the pocket. The tactic worked as Oquendo connected with several lead and counter left hooks to the head and body.
By the midway point, Oquendo was gaining more confidence as Roach looked dejected by the amount of punches he was getting hit with. Roach’s face began to bear the amount of punches Oquendo landed, as he began to bleed and bruises appeared on his face.
Roach finally let his hands go more consistently during the second half of the fight, connecting with short hooks and crosses on the inside.
In round eight, Oquendo was was deducted a point from referee Russell Mora for butting Roach with his head, which were unintentional, but Mora had warned Oquendo a handful of times over the three rounds.
Scores were 97-92, 97-92, and 96-93 for Roach, who improved to 19-0-1, 7 KOs.
“The fight played out good,” said Roach, who lives in Washington, DC. “I think it could have gone better, of course. But I’m glad we got this experience, to go up to the championship level. The only guys that beat him became champions and I’m one of them.”
“I knew that I was bleeding because I could feel the trickling but I’ve been getting hit in the face since I was nine years old. It wasn’t nothing I wasn’t used to.”
Oquendo, who resides in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, drops to 30-6, 19 KOs.
In a clash of unbeaten featherweights prospects, Aram Avagyan (9-0-1, 4 KOs) overcame a knockdown to defeat Francisco Esparza.
Esparza (9-1-1, 3 KOs), who resides in Las Vegas, dropped Avagyan about a minute into the second round. Avagyan was the more-effective fighter throughout the second half of the fight, outlanding Esparza to the head and body with combinations.
Scores were 96-93, 96-93, and 97-92 for Avagyan, who is originally from Armenia and now trains in Southern California.
In the opening bout of the Golden Boy Promotions card, super middleweight prospect Alexis Espino defeated Billy Wagner by unanimous decision.
Espino dropped Wagner (1-1) in the second round, but was deducted a point by referee Jay Nady for hitting Wagner while he was down. Espino was in control throughout the fight, stunning Wagner several times and producing blood from the nose and a swollen face.
Scores were 39-35, 39-35, and 39-34 for Espino, who goes to 2-0, 1 KO and is trained by Robert Garcia.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing
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