Jorge Diaz had strong support on sight, including New York Giants tailback Brandon Jacobs (left) and undefeated junior middleweight Glen Tapia (right).
Veteran Boxer Emmanuel Lucero Takes Diaz the Distance
Unbeaten featherweight Jorge Diaz (15-0, 9 KOs) had a hard test in front of him on Saturday night in the form of Mexican fighter Emmanuel Lucero (24-6, 14 KOs), but the 23-year-old rising star was able to hold on for a unanimous decision victory in what was a very entertaining 10-round affair. The fight was the main event of a packed card at Bally’s in Atlantic City, and Diaz had an exuberant fan base on sight that heavily broadcasted its support of the New Brunswick, New Jersey, native every step of the way.
Lucero was unbeaten in his first 22 bouts as a professional, but he has now lost six of his last nine fights, including a third round TKO defeat to Manny Pacquiao in 2003. Regardless of those latest pegs on his resume, he is a boxer long known for great cardio and a heavy heart, and Diaz knew from the onset that he would have his hands full. While he was aware that he had to bring his top game to the ring on Saturday night, he also knew he would do it with such supporters as New York Giants tailback Brandon Jacobs and undefeated junior middleweight Glen Tapia in his corner.
As soon as the opening bell rang, Diaz began working his jab and displaying some crafty footwork. He mixed up his punches between body shots and combos to the face as he circled Lucero, all the while using his speed to land a flurry of strikes when he attacked. Lucero did his best work when he was able to push Diaz onto the ropes or into the corner, and he seemed to be loading up a heavy right hand throughout the night. He seemingly became frustrated at times with his opponent’s ability to avoid his advances and wheel around the ring, but he also stood tough when Diaz unloaded multi-punch combos upon him.
Diaz appeared to score the points in the early rounds by continuing his strategy of staying on the move and bouncing in with combos, but Lucero only seemed to get stronger as the fight wore on. Diaz did show some damage to his left eye by the time the seventh frame rolled around, and he trudged on by leading with his good eye.
In the latter rounds of the bout, Diaz did seem to be fighting for air, but that did not slow his work rate when he attacked. With the motor of Diaz beginning to slow down a bit, Lucero was then able to start luring him into a more close-range battle. Some scary moments for the corner of Diaz began to occur at this point as well, with the New Jersey native rocking on and off the ropes to maintain his balance. Particularly in the final two frames, Lucero really picked up the pace and began to inflict some heavy damage onto his opposition. To the credit of Diaz, he displayed some toughness of his own to overcome the onslaught he endured in the last six minutes of action. When it came time to bang, Diaz still answered the call, and the final bell rang to an explosion of fireworks just outside the center of the ring.
Both fighters showed a lot of mutual respect as the officials gathered the score cards from the ringside judges, and the fans in attendance also showed their appreciation for a very entertaining 10 rounds of action. When the final count came in from the judges, it was Diaz who emerged as the victor, winning by scores of 99-92, 99-92 and 96-94.