Masayuki Ito Upsets Christopher Diaz in Thrilling Action-Packed Bout
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: July 29, 2018
KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA – In front of one of the best crowds of 2018 at the Kissimmee Civic Center in Kissimmee, Florida Japan’s Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12 KOs) won the vacant WBO 130-pound championship with a unanimous decision over Puerto Rico’s Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz (23-1, 15 KOs). Kissimmee is known as ‘little Puerto Rico,’ and it certainly lived up that moniker as every bout that featured a Puerto Rican fighter produced massive ovations and reactions from the crowd.
From the start of the first round, it was clear that Ito did not travel all the way from Japan for his first fight outside of his native country to be a stepping stone. In the first three rounds, Ito landed his straight right hand with regularity. The Japanese fighter began to paw with his jab and then throw straight right hands in combination. In the fourth round, Ito landed a perfect right hand that put Diaz on the canvas. Diaz looked visibly hurt, however, with a crowd full of his native countrymen hanging on and cheering with every punch thrown and landed he was fueled to stay in the fight.
The fifth and sixth rounds were better rounds for Diaz who was able to land left hooks and right hands that moved the Japanese fighter. The problem that Diaz had is that he was unable to hurt Ito with any punch landed. By the championship rounds, Diaz needed a knockdown or a knockout to win the match. Ito was prepared for any potential late rallies from the Puerto Rican and kept an edge in each round. Whether it was from the outside or inside, Ito was able to land the more effective punches. On the inside, Ito proved to be the more skilled fighter as he continually shifted the position of where his head was located making it more difficult for Diaz to land any uppercuts or hooks on the inside.
Until the final bell, Diaz and Ito gave fans their money’s worth. Diaz would have his moments in many rounds; however, the Puerto Rican was outworked in the majority of the rounds. The judges scored the fight 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111 all in Ito’s favor. Even after the decision was read, the crowd began chanting “Pitufo” in support of their fellow countryman.
Ito is now a player in the 130-pound division and fights with the other champions in the division such as Miguel Berchelt would be intriguing. Diaz will have to go back to the drawing board and improve on being more than just a mid-range hooker. Diaz displayed a tremendous amount of heart and courage battling on almost even terms with Ito with his left eye close to being completely shut.
The Orlando, Florida area where Kissimmee is located has the second highest population of Puerto Ricans outside of New York. If the crowd is any indication, Orlando could be a new location to stage more fights in the future.
While Ito’s hand was raised in victory, both fighters came out as winners. Their performance produced one of the better fights of 2018 in front of a raucous audience. Boxing fans will look forward to the next time both men are scheduled to get back in the ring.
(Featured Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)