Featherweight contender Isaac Dogboe beats Diaz in back-and-forth battle at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 20: Isaac Dogboe (L) and Christopher Diaz (R) exchange punches during their fight for the NABF featherweight championship at Michelob ULTRA Arena on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Featherweight contender Isaac Dogboe scored a majority decision victory over Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz in a back-and-forth battle in an in an ESPN2-televised preliminary bout on the undercard of the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter ESPN+ pay-per-view card Saturday night at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay.

Dogboe, a former junior featherweight world titlist, won the entertaining bout 96-94 and 97-93 while one judge scored the fight 95-95.

It was a competitive fight all the way with both fighters landing their share of solid shots. Maybe the best shot of the fight came in the third round when Diaz rocked Dogboe with a left hook, although he recovered quickly.

By the fourth round, Diaz had some swelling around his eyes but continued to fire combinations and stiff jabs. Dogboe looked to box more and pick his spots to punch, which he did with a strong close to the sixth round when he caught Diaz with a combination along the ropes.

Dogboe (23-2, 15 KOs), 27, of Ghana, kept it going as he opened the seventh round with a flurry of punches that forced former world title challenger Diaz (26-4, 16 KOs), 26, of Puerto Rico, back and got the crowd excited.

They traded three-punch combinations early in the ninth round and later in the round Dogboe was warned by referee Raul Caiz Jr. for lifting Diaz off the canvas when they were in a clinch.

In the 10th round they fought as though they both believed the outcome was in doubt and tried to close impressively.

Dogboe won his third fight in a row since losing his WBO 122-pound world title to Emanuel Navarrete by unanimous decision in December 2018 and getting stopped by him in the 12th round of an immediate rematch in May 2019.

Diaz lost his second fight in a row. On April 24, he was stopped by Navarrete, now the WBO featherweight titlist, in the 12th round of a title challenge.

Lopez-Ochoa II ends in no decision

The scheduled eight-round featherweight rematch between Adam Lopez (15-3, 6 KOs), 25, of Glendale, California, and Adan Ochoa (12-2, 5 KOs), 23, of Downey, California, ended in a third-round no decision because of a severe cut over Ochoa’s right eye caused by an accidental head butt.

They produced an action-filled first round before smashing heads in the final seconds, leaving Ochoa badly cut over his eye. He was examined by the doctor in the corner after the round and it appeared as though the fight might be stopped but was allowed to continue.

The corner did a good job closing the cut but when Ochoa took clean shot late in the second round it broke open again and blood went flying. The corner worked on the wound the corner but just after the bell rang to begin the third round, referee Allen Huggins called timeout and then stopped the fight upon advice of the ringside doctor.

Because the fight was stopped due to the accidental head butt and the fight had not gone four full rounds it was declared a no decision.

Lopez defeated Ochoa by four-round decision in 2017 when they were both undefeated.

Balderas TKOs Cortez

Junior lightweight Karlos Balderas, a 2016 U.S. Olympian from of Santa Maria, California, looked sharp in a one-sided fourth-round knockout of Julio Cortez in their scheduled six-rounder.

In the final seconds of the second round, Balderas (11-1, 10 KOs ), 25, knocked Cortez’s mouthpiece out. Then Balderas had a big third round, landing numerous clean shots and making Cortez do a bit of a chicken dance for a moment. Balderas finished the round teeing off with an assortment of stiff jabs, right hands and body shots.

Balderas, who is trained by Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt and was in his second fight since signing with Top Rank, finished Cortez (15-4, 11 KOs), 33, of Ecuador, in the fourth round. He rocked him with a left hand and right uppercut, forcing referee Raul Caiz Jr. to step in at 2 minutes, 13 seconds.

Johnson stops Grable

Welterweight Tiger Johnson, 2020 U.S. Olympian from Cleveland , made his professional debut with a fourth-round knockout of Antonius Grable.

An accidental head butt opened a cut over Johnson’s left eye in the third round, after which Johnson, 23, turned it up and landed a series of hard shots on Grable (3-2-1, 3 KOs), 29, of Sarasota, Florida.

Johnson, who lost in the Olympic quarterfinals in Tokyo to eventual gold medalist Roniel Iglesias of Cuba , remained aggressive in the fourth round and caught Grable with several hard right hands. One of them caused a knockdown and moments later, he landed another booming shot and referee Allen Huggins waved it off at 1 minute, 54 seconds.

“I’m coming. The cut was not an issue for me, and I did my thing against a solid opponent in my professional debut,” Johnson said. “It was an honor to debut on a big pay-per-view card in Las Vegas , and I can’t wait for my second professional fight.”

 

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