Ward triumphant in return, Diaz Jr. impressive in HBO debut
Andre Ward, (29-0, 15 KOs) made his light heavyweight debut as he earned a twelve round unanimous decision over the Sullivan Barrera, (17-1, 12 KOs), a tough Cuban defector who was the #1 contender for the IBF light heavyweight title on Saturday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
In an engaging action fight that saw Ward and Barrera both trying to dictate range in the early rounds it was a balance knockdown scored by Ward that floored Barrera in the third round that was the first landmark moment of the fight. As the fight grew in duration Barrera continued to stalk Ward making the fight rather exciting in the second half of the bout. Ward was a docked a point in the eighth for a low blow without a warning. In the end, the judges scored the bout 117-108, 117-109, and 118-109 all in favor of Ward.
In the televised co-main event, 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz, Jr., (20-0, 11 KOs) made an impressive HBO debut defeating Featherweight Champion Jayson Velez, (23-2-1, 16 KOs) in a ten round a affair. Diaz looked his best to-date by dominating Velez who didn’t have answers for Velez’s power and speed. The judges scored the bout 98-92, 99-91, 100-91 for Diaz Jr.
Roc Nation featherweight prospect Daniel Franco, (13-0-3, 8 KOs) put on a gritty performance before getting a mercy stoppage in a eighth and final round against German Meraz, (49-38-1, 30 KOs), a prototypical journeyman fighter. As expected, Franco was dominate in the fight was pushed to have go extra rounds. A decent showing, but nothing strongly stood out.
20-year old super middleweight Junior Younan (8-0, 6 KOs) who fought at a light heavyweight catchweight got back to the ring after a long layoff as he picked up a four-round unanimous decision over Christian Solorzano, (3-8, 2 KOs) winning every round in the process.
Middleweight prospect Rudy Puga, Jr.(8-0, 7 KOs) of Salinas, CA stopped a game but overmatched Carlos Lozano, (7-6, 4 KOs), at 2:13 of the final round in a six round bout. Puga after the fight hinted that Roc Nation might be putting a show on in Salinas, CA in the near future.
Junior welterweight Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker (20-0-2, 15 KOs) made quick work of Wilfrido Buelvas (17-6, 11 KOs), getting the first-round knockout at 2:27. In a wild fight, Hooker dropped Buelvas quickly in the first round then was knocked down due to a trip from Buelvas and finally laid Buelvas out cold towards the end of the round.
Junior middleweight Aaron Coley, (13-1-1, 6 KOs) of Hayward, CA picked up a good win over Urmat Ryskeldiev, (11-4-2, 7 KOs). Coley created distance and made Ryskeldiev pay when he got in close. Scores were 58-56, 58-56, 60-54.
Heavyweigt Zhang Zhilei, (8-0, 6 KOs), the 2008 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist stopped Tyree Ortiz, (5-3, 4 KOs) in third round.