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Julio Diaz vs. Herman Ngoudjo Fight Preview and Pick to Win

When: Friday, May 14, 2010
Where: Buffalo Bill’s Star Arena in Primm, Nevada
TV: ESPN 2 at 10:00 p.m. (EST)
Weight Class: Junior Welterweights: 10 Rounds

By Scotty L of

Julio Diaz, 36-6 (26 KOs), Coachella, CA. Vs. Herman Ngoudjo, 18-3 (10 KOs), Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Fight Odds: Julio "The Kidd" Diaz +110/Herman "Black Panther" Ngoudjo -140

Analysis: A nice main event on ESPN 2 takes place on Friday when Julio Diaz and Herman Ngoudjo do battle in a ten round junior welterweight bout. This is a proverbial crossroads fight. The winner goes on to bigger things while the loser goes to the back of a growing pack. The 140 lb. class is getting hot and heavy, with a number of young and exciting fighters paving the way. The winner of this fight stays viable.

These are good fighters who have each had moments of success in the big time. Diaz is a former two-time IBF lightweight titleholder. A tall (5’9”) and slashing puncher, he is a fighter who likes to mix it up—perhaps to his own detriment. He never used his height and reach to make things easy on himself. While formerly a top campaigner at 135 lbs., he was never able to break from the pack. He had a nice win over Jesus Chavez in 2007, but was stopped by superior lightweights Jose Luis Castillo and Juan Diaz. Coming off back-to-back losses to Rolando Reyes and Victor Cayo, there are doubts surrounding Diaz. At 30, he has appeared to grow old before his time.

Ngoudjo might not have the hardware Diaz has in his trophy case, but he has carved out a nice little career for himself. He seemed extremely unfortunate to lose by split decision to the aforementioned Jose Luis Castillo in his first foray into the world-class waters. The way he bounced back to outfight murderous-punching Randall Bailey showed his mettle and worth. He then fought champion Paul Malignaggi very tough and closely, losing a decision that was scored a bit wider than it should have been. He reemerged with a decision over 36-2-1 Souleymane M’baye, before getting another shot at a belt—losing convincingly to Juan Urango in January of 2009. He returned 13 months later with a win over clubfighter Silverio Ortiz in February.

Physically, these fighters match up well—both 5’9”, with Ngoudjo holding a 3-inch advantage in reach. It’s what lies underneath where the difference can be seen. Diaz has the look of a spent force. While still able to deliver a hard shot, his ability to absorb one seems to have diminished. Not that it was ever that good to begin with, but a slight ebb in his reflexes has thrown it into the “bad” category. His legs have started to take on that look of a fighter who has had too many tough fights. Ngoudjo is not much of a power-puncher, but anything landed solidly above the neck seems to have the ability to shake Diaz at this point in his career.

Ngoudjo hasn’t been very active. His inability to fight competitively against the one-dimensional Urango was disappointing. He allowed himself to be out-muscled by the powerful Colombian and never offered any answers. It showed a lack of versatility on his part and could raise the question as to whether or not he has started to fade. I just think it was a bad matchup for him and that he’s better than he looked that night. It’s safe to say that Ngoudjo is the fresher fighter. Diaz might have fared better in this fight 2-3 years ago, where it would have been more difficult to make a case for Ngoudjo. Now, however, Ngoudjo’s future seems brighter.

Scotty L's Pick to Win: Both men like to mix it up, so an exciting fight should be expected. What this fight represents in both men’s careers should also give way to a bout fought with more urgency and passion. While fresh, Diaz still has the ability to punch with quickness, variety, and power. Perhaps he will hold a small edge over the first few rounds. Ngoudjo’s higher punch volume will become a bigger factor as the fight moves into the middle rounds. He might even drop Diaz with a combination along the way. Diaz might have enough zip on his shots to keep Ngoudjo respectful in the latter rounds, allowing him to hear the final bell. Something tells me, though, that Ngoudjo will be able to get Diaz out of there, anytime after the 7th or 8th round. Bet on Herman Ngoudjo at -140 to win.

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