In a hotly anticipated showdown between hard-nosed come-forward sluggers, lightweights Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis went to war last night at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX, and after the dust settled Diaz had pulled out a split decision victory to capture the vacant IBO title.
For the first half of the bout, Diaz engaged in target practice, nailing his tough Aussie opponent with a two handed avalanche that had Katsidis swollen and cut around both eyes.
But the huge-hearted Katsidis refused to give up and as Diaz began to tire from his sheer effort, Michael "The Great" went to work and outlanded the local man over most of the second half of the bout.
Diaz absorbed what Katsidis had to dish out and returned fire just enough to carry two of the three scorecards 116-112 and 115-113 while Katsidis took the third 115-113.
Winning by split decision, former unified world champion Diaz improves to 34-1 (17) while ex-WBO Interim titlist Katsidis drops his second in a row to fall to 23-2 (20).
On the undercard, former WBO Super Feather Champ Jorge Barrios and three-time world title challenger Rocky Juarez also engaged in a thrilling two-way contest.
Juarez was characteristically patient with his efforts, focusing on the body and tight combinations while Barrios proved to be the more active man, outboxing the Texan until caught by a hard right from Juarez in the eleventh frame.
Although Barrios was canvassed, he beat the count only to have the bout called off due to a sever laceration he suffered inside the mouth from the Juarez right hand.
Juarez won by stoppage and improved to 28-4 (20), while Barrios, who had been out of the ring for a year and a half, drops to 47-4-1 (34).
Another former champ was on the bill as former WBC Super Feather and IBF Lightweight ruler Jesus Chavez, 44-4 (30), continued his comeback by stopping Andres Ledesma, 14-11-1 (9), in the ninth of a scheduled ten rounder.