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BOXING

Diaz Hopes Win Leads to Title Shot

November 24, 2002|Paul Gutierrez | From Staff and Wire Reports

Thirteen months ago, lightweight Julio Diaz saw a multimillion-dollar deal with HBO and a looming championship fight slip through his fingers with a controversial split decision defeat to Angel Manfredy.

Six months later, Diaz's stock dipped further with a shocking first-round knockout loss to unheralded Juan Valenzuela.

But after dropping Felix St. Kitts three times in the fourth round Saturday night and getting a spectacular technical knockout win in front of 3,083 at Arrowhead Pond, Diaz is again talking title shots.

"The title's always on my mind," said Diaz, a native of Coachella who improved to 26-2 with 19 knockouts after the fight was stopped with 12 seconds remaining in the round. "If we're talking about it, then it's getting close. I don't want any more tuneups, though. You're risking too much."

Diaz, 22, hopes to meet the winner of the 135-pound championship rematch on Dec. 7 between Floyd Mayweather and Jose Luis Castillo.

St. Kitts (12-3-2) took the fight on three days' notice after Diaz's original opponent, Carlos Ramirez, broke his right ankle in training.

In the semi-main event, super flyweight Martin Castillo improved to 22-1-1 with a technical knockout of Keyri Wong, a teammate on the 1996 Mexican Olympic team, when the bout was stopped prior to the ninth round on the advice of ringside physician Mike DeLuca.

Castillo, who has 14 knockouts, is being groomed for a shot against World Boxing Assn. 115-pound champion Alexander Munoz (23-0, 23 KOs).

Also on the card: Oxnard super middleweight Jose Aguiniga (17-0, 11 KOs) remained unbeaten with a second-round knockout of Jose Sarabia (15-24-2); and featherweight Isidro Granados of Bellflower got his first career knockout and improved to 3-0 by stopping Edgar Sabal (0-5) in 2:23 of the first round.

-- Paul Gutierrez

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Junior welterweight Arturo Gatti won a unanimous decision over Micky Ward in Atlantic City, N.J., dropping him in the third round and dominating from then on to avenge a loss.

Gatti (35-6) clubbed Ward with an overhand right that knocked him to his knees and caused him to fall forward.

Ward (38-12), who beat Gatti six months ago in a slugfest considered by many to be one of the year's best fights, was never the same after that.

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Vitaly Klitschko knocked out Larry Donald in the 10th round at Dortmund, Germany, paving the way for a World Boxing Council title fight with Lennox Lewis.

Klitschko, 32-1 with 31 knockouts, caught Donald with a right in the round, sending the American to the canvas for the first time in his career.

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Johnny Nelson kept his WBO cruiserweight title on a split decision after struggling through 12 rounds with Panama's Guillermo Jones in Derby, England.

Nelson appeared to be outboxed by an opponent who had fought for the WBA light-middleweight title only four years ago and had risen quickly through the weights.

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