No winner declared between Joseph Diaz Jr and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov
Following twelve rounds of solid action Joseph “Jo-Jo” Diaz Jr (31-1-1, 15 KO’s) walked away with a majority draw against what started as his mandatory challenger Shavkatdzhon “Shere Khan” Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12 KO’s). Unfortunately for him he was not able to retain his IBF world super featherweight title. This was due to Diaz losing his belt on the scales at the weigh-in. In a somewhat shameful showing, Jo-Jo came in three and a half pounds overweight, leaving the title on the line only for Rakhimov.
In the end, it didn’t matter as neither fighter would be able to go home with the title.
SWING ROUNDS AND A SWING FIGHT
Fighting for the first time in thirteen months, Diaz got off to a productive start. He was able to establish his jab and begin touching Rakhimov with solid shots early. Shere Khan was undaunted and largely unaffected. He quickly injected his own lead jab, used his feet well and began digging to the body with regularity.
By the fourth round the contest was becoming a very even affair between the two southpaws. Diaz was playing the role of aggressor and attempted to walk down Rakhimov who was working off the back foot. With the arrival of the sixth, questions about the former champion’s stamina began emerging due to his less than impressive fighting pace. The result, his undefeated opponent started to take control of the fight behind his positioning and well-placed shots. Diaz started to look sloppy and by the middle rounds, began to play “catch-up.”
In the seventh period, Shere Khan landed a hard left hook which was his best punch to that point. The former IBF champion absorbed it well. Diaz would eat a nearly identical hook in the eighth round. This second left hook did push him back and appeared to have a greater effect. To his credit Jo-Jo fired back immediately and was able to clip Rakhimov on the chin with pair of left hooks. The period ended with both men throwing determined shots.
NO WINNER AND NO BELT
Following a fairly even ninth, Diaz enjoyed a dominate tenth round. While nothing overly noteworthy landed, it was the Californian pressing the action and having more activity. Jo-Jo carried this momentum into the eleventh. For the first half of the period he jabbed and pummeled Rakhimov’s ribs with short hooks. About the halfway mark, the challenger backed Diaz up with a couple of stiff straight lefts to the teeth. Yet, it was not enough to win the round.
Despite his weight issues and mid-fight lag Diaz finished the bout strong. Both he and Rakhimov fought with vigor until the final bell. In the end, however, the judges had the final say in who was victorious. When their scorecards were read neither boxer won as the bout was ruled a majority draw.
Rakhimov remains the #1 contender with the IBF. Meanwhile, former champion Kenichi Ogawa is next in line at #3. Maybe the two will lock horns in the future for the now vacant title!
By: Bakari Simpson