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HBO Main Events 'After Dark' A Classic
By George J. Elsasser (July 19, 2004) 
Photo © German Villasenor
Sometimes it happens, a promised dandy lives up to expectations … multiply by three and you get an HBO tripleheader classic topped with a promoter gamble that paid off.

The Main Events promotion team pitted three of its promising hopefuls against quality opponents as a stepping stone to bigger things … and the Diaz, Juarez, Cintron trio brought home the proverbial bacon.

Opening action began with welterweight NABF champ Teddy Reid (22-5-1, 16) defending against undefeated Kermit Cintron (23-0, 21) in a meeting of right hand bombers. The stake up for grabs the WBO interim strap.

Expected fireworks began at the opening bell with the veteran Reid looking the more relaxed while Cintron appeared tentative … still, while Teddy opened the round faster it also saw Cintron having a few moments.

From stanza two on it would be all Cintron … drops Reid with big right hand in round three … follows in stanza four by wobbling Reid in a candle that was a classic battle of give and take.

Frustration got the best of Reid in number five and a flagrant hitting after the bell cost him a point reduction; in stanza seven another point reduction for hitting on the break - not sure that one should have been called.

Finally round eight and Reid is down from big right hand; beats the count but Cintron is quickly on him with a flurry of punches that has referee Tim Adams calling it no-mas at 56 seconds mark of the round.

Post Scripts: Reid: Still tough and battle hardened, but age 33 is not conducive to an in the trenches style of doing battle. Ideal test for the ESPN level new kids on the block type.
Cintron: We knew going in this kid could punch. Has good size at welter and a workable jab to go with the right hand bomb. But Reid had enough early on to expose the other side of the coin. Kid is definitely still a work in progress and shows promise … big win but can use more classroom tutoring.

Unbeaten featherweights followed with Rocky Juarez (20-0,14) facing Zahir Raheem (25-0, 14) with the bounty a #1 IBF eliminator spot.

This one was labeled classic boxer vs. banger affair, and an expected coin-toss in the pick ‘em department, and over stanzas one thru three it stayed the course with Raheem capturing one and two with his advertised boxing and quickness.

Round three sees Juarez with a good one as he closes the distance while scoring to the body and head with combinations, and then caps things off in stanza four dropping Raheem with a left hook.

At that point referee Robert Gonzalez - hometown hack and part lunatic with a desperate need for attention - quickly makes it a 10-7 round by charging Raheem a point for holding, all this while recovering from the earlier knockdown.

And what we get from then on was an in your face Gonzalez all over Raheem with verbal harassment; additional points taken came in candles six and ten and while they pretty much swapped rounds during the run to the wire the point reductions had it all Juarez come the tally department.

Scoring went all Juarez 115-109, 113-111, 114-110; my unofficial had it Juarez 115-109 in points and 7-5 in rounds.

Post Scripts: Juarez looks like a valid title threat in the making at 126 … does a little of everything and handles adversity well. Time will tell if he can climb to the top of that featherweight mountain of fistic talent.

Raheem: Excellent boxer … super quick with a ton of moves … word is weight making a problem at 126 and maybe better if moving up a notch.

Gonzalez: Never mind them boxer testing for drugs … when this guy works a fight the smart thing would be a pre-fite brain scan.

Then the feature event of the evening with Juan Diaz challenging tough and durable defending WBA lightweight champ Lakva Sim, and while the expected was an action affair, the viewers were treated to a "fight of the year" nominee classic.

The scoring belied the closeness in a battle of attrition. Diaz tossed the combinations by the dozens while piling up points and rounds, but the 20 year old Houston kid couldn’t stop the Mongolian mauler from his forward attack.

By round five both had proven they could absorb the other’s power punches, and while the skills favored Diaz there was a question over stamina considering the furious tempo of the action.

And so it went the full route and Diaz has surely proven he is a force to be reckoned with at 135. The kid has it all.

Scoring went Diaz 118-111, 118-110, 116-112; my unofficial Diaz 117-111 and 9-3 over 12 searing rounds of give and take.

Post Scripts: Juan Diaz ~ mature beyond his years in both age and talent … never once rattled by a battle hardened opponent in Sim. Had myself a flashback watching this kid work that saw a mix of 1940s LaMotta vintage and 1960s vintage Jose Torres in style. The body punches boggled the mind and one wondered how Sim could absorb them and return fire as he did.

Lakva Sim ~ Not sure how many takers he’ll now have after last noche’s guts & glory performance … but at age 32, with a younger body and a reservoir of stamina and supported with a solid chin the guess is there will be few takers.

Finally, a salute to Main Events and HBO for a masterpiece … and I feel it fitting were all six combatants offered post-fite collective ringside curtain calls.


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