Another inspiring tale to add to Mexico’s boxing folklore

Gamaliel Diaz, Mexico’s latest boxing hero raises the WBC World Championship belt high overhead upon his return home to his family and cheering countrymen.

On Takahiro Ao’s docket for October 27, 2012 was a meeting with a 31 year-old Mexican boxer by the name of Gamaliel Diaz at the Tokyo International Forum, Ao’s venue of choice in his hometown. Ao’s opponent had 28 wins, nine losses and two draws. Being that Diaz was older and a righty and Ao was younger and a southpaw, this was penciled in as his fourth straight title defense, more or less a walk in the park for the WBC super featherweight title holder. Ao had 23 wins, only two defeats, a draw, plus 10 KOs.

Only problem, Diaz was never informed of Ao’s plan and so he didn’t follow the script. He prepared as if there was no tomorrow and defeat was not an option. On Saturday night he won by an unanimous decision to capture Ao’s WBC super featherweight crown.

Should Ao’s management team been worried about the prospects of a loss? They should have. After all Diaz had won 13 straight, and this was his third and most likely his last shot at a world title. 

He also had a history of upsetting the favorite. On December 2, 2005, Díaz beat the undefeated Mexican-American future champion Robert Guerrero to win the NABF Featherweight Title. Then on July 13, 2007, he defeated future champion Elio Rojas in a WBC Featherweight Title Eliminator to hand the Dominican his first loss. Also, Diaz had made two prior visits to Japan and defeated Ao’s countrymen, Naoto Fujiwara and Makoto Uehara.

At first, the cut over Takahiro Ao’s left eyebrow didn’t look that bad, but after a little work it turned out to be a real difference maker, especially after the blood from that cut trickled down and affected Ao’s vision. Photo: Jim Wyatt

From the outset, Diaz got Ao’s attention by landing these straight rights flush on his opponent’s face. He added a series of similar blows in the second round.

Early in Round three, the road got a bit bumpy when Diaz was given a one point penalty for what referee Ian John-Lewis deemed an intentional head butt which drew blood from above Ao’s right eyebrow. On the replay, it was clear that Diaz had used his forehead as the third weapon in his arsenal.

Diaz’s darting straight right hand kept beating his opponent’s left to the target. If Ao landed a punch, Diaz made certain to land two.

Then, Diaz was docked a second point in the fifth round for another low blow. After the ref had issued multiple warnings the issuance of this penalty was more than just.

Gamaliel Diaz lands another shot to the head of Takahiro Ao in their WBC Super Featherweight Title fight on October 27, 2012 in Tokyo, Japan.

Ignoring the penalties, Diaz remained resolute to follow his game plan. Even after getting tagged by some solid lefts, he never wavered. His two and sometimes three additional blows were keeping him ahead in the punch count. Meanwhile, his Japanese counterpart was unable to fend off the constant pummeling and of course he had to deal with that blood trickling down his face.

In Round nine, Ao caught Diaz with a glancing left that opened a nasty cut over Diaz’s right eye. From that point on both fighters kept pounding each other with the intent of opening the cuts further. Diaz was masterful using every sneaky trick in the book from hitting on the back of the head, hitting on the break and using his arm to hold Ao’s arm. He leaned on, pushed down, and even tripped Ao. The most masterful strategy involved using the clinch as a device to negate any response.

Takahiro Ao vs Gamaliel Diaz 2012-10-27 by Gaston Pouliot

In the end, the judges that you would assume had a lean towards Ao, scored the bout 114-112, 114-112 and 115-111 all in favor of Diaz. This bout was a classic duel between a southpaw and an orthodox fighter, one that if studied can benefit the novice who has yet to fight against someone of the opposite stance.

Post fight quotes:

Gamaliel Diaz: “My dream came true. I was calm from the very first round. I received several heavy punches, but he was unable to knock me out.”
Takahiro Ao: “I wasn’t strong enough to beat him. I got flustered, distraught after my eyesight became worse. When I tried to move forward, I lost my balance.”

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