Joseph Diaz and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov could not be separated by the judges, battling to a hard-fought draw at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, on Saturday night.
Scores were 114-114 (twice), overruling a 115-113 nod for Diaz.
With Diaz having lost his IBF super-featherweight crown on the scales the previous day, the belt was on the line for Russian Rakhimov only, but after the 12-round stalemate the title remains vacant.
The Californian’s weight miscue proved costly after he had to pay a $100,000 fine to the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) from his $500,000 purse, half to Rakhimov and half to the CSAC.
“I’m a little upset,” Diaz (31-1-1, 15 KOs) told DAZN afterwards. “I thought I did enough to win the fight. It was a close fight. It wasn’t my best performance. Obviously, I didn’t make weight and I vacated my title. But it was a long lay-off, man, and I wanna apologise to DAZN, I wanna apologise to all of my fans that have been rooting for me since day one. It was a mistake on my [part]. It was a year lay-off. No excuses, but I’ll get back into it.
“It was a close fight. The guy was throwing a lot of combinations and throwing a lot of shots, but it was just all gloves. And I thought I was dictating the pace, landing the good body shots, hurting him, and walking him down and breaking him down. I thought I should have won the fight, but it is what it is, man. I just gotta learn from this and take some time off and get right back to it.”
But Diaz also felt a lack of facilities in the casino ‘bubble’ played their part in his failure to make the 130lbs limit on Friday.
“I couldn’t make the weight like I used to,” he added. “There was no sauna here in this Covid stuff. They don’t have no gym here. They only have a treadmill here”
All three judges had Rakhimov trailing after the 10th but the Tajikistan-born fighter swept the final two rounds on all cards to seize the draw. Trainer Freddie Roach had implored his fighter to throw more punches and Rakhimov heeded that call to preserve his unbeaten record.
“I think I did everything what is possible for me to do,” Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12 KOs) said afterwards via a translator. “But it looks like there were a few mistakes and we’re going to be working on those mistakes.”
Diaz suffered a bloody nose in the third, but battled back strongly after Rakhimov’s accuracy and work-rate threatened to take control. Rakhimov led on two cards following the seventh before the Californian southpaw bit down on his gumshield and seized back the momentum with a sustained burst of aggression and stellar body work. Yet Rakhimov’s last ditch rally clinched the draw.
Main image: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy.