JoJo Diaz, Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov fights a majority draw; The IBF belt is still blank

JoJo Diaz needed a strong finish against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov if he wanted to avoid further disappointment this weekend.

Diaz, who lost his IBF lightweight belt on the blades after losing the weight limit, appeared to be heading for the second loss of his pro career. A late rally allowed Diaz to save a not-so-strong day or two.

Diaz and Rakhimov fought to a majority draw in a fight for the IBF’s 130-pound title Saturday at Casino Fantasy Springs in Indio, Calif. Two judges got the win on all 114 hits while another got 115-113 for Diaz. The title remains blank.

“It was a close fight,” Diaz said in his interview after a fight on DAZN. “It wasn’t my best performance. I really didn’t put on weight.”

When Diaz lost the weight limit by a staggering 3.6 pounds, it meant he could not hold his title even if he beat the unknown Rakhimov. Diaz could only make a move to maintain his career with a well-executed Saturday night performance. But even that was in jeopardy.

Blood leaked from Diaz’s nose after the first two rounds and Rakhimov squeezed the weight with a steady barrage of punches down the middle. The opponent took advantage of lulls in Diaz’s action, which evoked a sense of urgency from his corner.

As the fight progressed into the ninth round, the fight was tied on two of the official scorecards. After Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12 KOs) controlled the action for the midfields, Diaz (31-1-1, 15 KOs) added some late pressure to avoid the issue. According to CompuBox figures, Diaz has beaten Rakhimov in the last four rounds.

Of course, Diaz did enough to lift a small lead head into the tournament rounds. However, Rakhimov responded by winning the last two rounds on all three scorecards after the advice of his trainer, Freddie Roach, persuaded Rakhmimov to throw more pounds.

While Diaz was more accurate with his pictures and landed 31.5% of them, according to CompuBox, Rakhimov threw more than 200 extra pounds.

“I think I did everything I could,” Rakhimov said through an interpreter in his post-fight interview. “But it looks like there were a few errors and we’re going to work on those errors.”

Rakhimov made Diaz answer enough questions during the fight. Diaz had to face a Rakhimov direct attack and a level of aggression that did not last until the last four rounds.

But this weekend was largely about the questions Diaz raised for himself. First, Diaz apologized for missing the weight and surrendering his belt and did not want to offer any excuses.

That changed a few minutes later in his post-fight interview.

“I couldn’t do the pressure as I used to,” Diaz said. “There was no sauna here in this COVID stuff. They don’t have a gym here. They only have a treadmill here.”

For Diaz, Saturday’s result was not the worst scenario. But he was far from the one he thought of when he won the IBF belt with a win over Tevin Farmer in January 2019.

And he and Rakhimov will have to wait a while longer to retain that title.

Castano Cruises over Teixeira: Brian Castano used heavyweight in a lopsided victory over Patrick Teixeira to win the WBO medium weight title. Castano won in a unanimous decision, 120-108, 119-109, 117-111 to build one of the top four zones in the division.

Castano (17-0-1, 12 KOs) won in close range and had a performance that ended in the 12th round. After permanent penalty rounds, Teixeira (31-2, 22 KO) grabbed some clean points and pulled them off the ropes again in the final minutes. Even though Castano was unable to pick up a stop win, the scorecards showed how strong he was winning Saturday night.