“Forget Floyd, forget Pacquiao,” exclaimed Big Steve during our Sunday morning java at Starbucks on Western Avenue:” They don’t want to fight. All they want to do is flex their huge ego muscles. Did you see those young boys from Palmdale on Showtime on Friday night? Matt and Joel; I’ve known these boys since they were young kids. Now that’s what I call fighting. Those boys made me proud.”
For the first time on National television, late replacements, Matt Villanueva and Joel Diaz Jr met their respective opponents Mike Ruiz Jr and Guy Robb in the ring for two memorable eight round wars at the Pearl in Las Vegas.
Palmdale’s junior bantamweight Matt Villanueva showed fight fans around the world why he was chosen to fight on ShoBox The New Generation in only his eighth professional fight. He dominated an action packed fight over very resilient Mike Ruiz Jr from Fresno , California on the way to a seventh round TKO. Referee Russell Mora stopped the fight at 1:04 of the seventh round following Villanueva’s unanswered barrage of punches. “I felt perfect, as far as my conditioning; this is the best I’ve ever felt,” said twenty five years old Villanueva after the fight:” This was my first time going 8 rounds and it was no problem. I was surprised that it went this long. He took a lot of my punches, and survived an early knockdown. He was able to get up and fight a few more rounds, and that surprised me.”
Both guys displayed early fight jitters being on National Tv for the first time. Southpaw Ruiz got on the inside and landed some good shots early. Villanueva dialed in to land some late in the first round. Villanueva dominated the second round letting his hands go and hurting his opponent repeatedly and finally dropping Ruiz at the tail end of the second with a well palced combination. Ruiz got up and fought back bravely and made a good account of himself in the third landing a huge overhand left and an uppercut. Still he couldn’t keep an aggressive Villanueva off him for too long. Villanueva continued to press the action in the fourth dominating the stanza with activity and volume punching. The fifth round was close and competitive war of attrition with both guys landing bombs. Villanueva came back to dominate the 6th stanza assaulting his adversary with punch after punch combinations. Ruiz absorbed a lot of punishment but he was fighting back bravely. Villanueva continued his non stop assault in the seventh finally convincing referee Russell Mora to end the night prematurely.
In an early candidate for the fight of the year two young and unbeaten super featherweights, Joel Diaz and Guy Robb staged the eight round war for the ages. Going through hell and back several times Joel Diaz scored a seventh round knock out victory. Referee Vic Draculich stopped the fight at 2:20 of the seventh when Robb got into trouble and was not firing back for a while.
“It was much harder than I thought,” said nineteen years old Diaz Jr.:” I was expecting it to be more like my previous fights, but not everybody’s the same. I can’t hit everybody with one punch and knock them down. This was my first time going 8 rounds. One of my fights before went 4 rounds, and all of the others ended in the first. They gave us a call last Wednesday, to fill a spot as the co-feature on the Rico Ramos card, and who would turn that down? So we took the fight, we were already training, might as well .First time I’ve ever been knocked down. It was a lucky punch that caught me off guard, and I got up really quick. Hopefully it will never happen again. We’re gonna go back to the gym and continue working on my chin, like I’ve been doing.”
Joel Diaz won the first round with power punching and aggression, but Robb took it well and came back strong at the end of the first . The second round an early candidate for the round of the year had Joel Diaz attacking with reckless abandon only to be dropped by a right hand to the side of the head. The momentum shifted and Robb went for the kill , but couldn’t t finish the job only to see it shift again and Joel Diaz finish round two strong. It was all Diaz in the third, he forced his opponent to take a knee early and dropped him again later in the round. Robb came back strong in the fourth and trapped Diaz against the ropes several times unleashing furious leather. Both guys looked spent at the end of four. It was a real war of attrition in the fifth stanza. Robb seemed to have more left in the tank and his body attack was vicious and more effective. Diaz was holding his own and landing bombs.In the sixth two young gladiators fought toe to toe matching each others fury, blow for blow; no one willing to relent. They were still going at it in the seventh when Diaz got the upper hand and unleashed a furious assault that forced referee Vic Draculich to stop the fight, I thought a bit prematurely, andaward a TKO win to Joel Diaz.
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