Oscar Diaz: The Miracle Never Came

By Ted Sares on February 28, 2015
Oscar Diaz: The Miracle Never Came
So there it is, the end of a long and tragic story that seemingly began seven years ago.

We fans are extremely concerned when boxers such as Victor Burgos and Magomed Abdusalamov are damaged, but then we seem to forget them…

“We need a miracle.”— Fernando Diaz, Oscar’s brother

“I would never wish what happened to Oscar upon anyone. Oscar is a great guy, and a great competitor. God bless him.”—Delvin Rodriquez

“He’s got swelling and bleeding on the brain, he’s unconscious and on a ventilator. It’s not good. Obviously, he’s in all of our prayers.”—Ron Katz, promoter Star Boxing told ESPN.com.

San Antonio boxer Oscar“  “El Torito” Diaz, who suffered a debilitating brain injury during a 2008 fight against Delvin Rodriguez, died Thursday morning from complications arising from pneumonia. He was 32.

Here is Delvin Rodriguez’s reaction: http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/12394655/oscar-diaz-badly-injured-fight-nearly-7-years-ago-dead-32.

Diaz collapsed in the ring after the 10th round during a nationally televised match against Rodriguez on July 16, 2008. He later lapsed into a coma after being transported to University Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The boxer emerged from the coma two months later, but suffered serious medical complications and setbacks in the years since the injury.

After emergency brain surgery, doctors were unsure how Diaz would recover. His brother, Fernando Diaz, told the San Antonio Express-News that Diaz had been living in a San Antonio nursing home and could not walk on his own.

So there it is, the end of a long and tragic story that seemingly began seven years ago, but I recall another fight involving the well-liked “El Torito” back on November 10, 2006.

Diaz vs. Johnson (2006)

Golden Johnson met Oscar, an incoming brawler, in San Antonio for local bragging rights and what happened was a display of brutality the likes of which have not been seen in these parts since another “El Torito” named Tony Ayala did his nasty thing, but it was a fight in which many wondered what part of a white towel Diaz’s corner didn’t understand.

What made the fight a great one was the ebb and flow that kept the 10,000 screaming throughout. Johnson controlled the early part of the fight, but Diaz took over in the middle rounds and hurt Johnson badly in the seventh with a vicious body shot. Indeed, he was poised to take Johnson out when the bell ended the round and arguably saved Golden. It would be Oscar’s last chance

Johnson, for his part, put tremendous punishment on Diaz. In the 2nd round, an accidental head butt opened a two-inch cut over Oscar’s right eye and the blood flowed uncontrollably. Even master cutman Joe Souza couldn’t stop the bleeding. In the 8th round Diaz’s left eye began to swell and close. Blood was coming from his mouth and his hand may have been broken as well. His face was a bloody mess and made some in the crowd yell “stop it, stop it.”

Diaz, his spirit now rapidly depleting, then took a straight right in the 11th that caught him flush sending him staggering against the ropes. After a lengthy series of savage and unanswered shots, referee Ruben Carrion finally stopped the slaughter—-way too late in my view, proving once again the corner can be a lot braver than the fighter.

The thing is, certain people are placed in charge of protecting a boxer from undue punishment for a reason: the ringside physician, the referee, members of the state boxing commission, if they are present (Larry Hazzard always did this well), and, of course, a fighter’s corner (trainer, second, and cutman). Once a fighter crawls through the ropes, he (or she) puts his well-being in their hands. In a very real sense, a boxer’s life depends on them. In this instance, Oscar’s corner allowed him to take a bloody beating and Johnson’s corner was critical of Diaz’s corner for not stopping the fight sooner. If ever there was a case of discretion being the better part of valor, this was it.

Diaz vs. Valenzuela (2008)

Diaz came back to win a unanimous eight-round decision against Roberto Valenzuela in May 2008 to set up the fateful fight Rodriguez for the vacant regional USBA 147-pound title. The fight, which figured to be competitive, was held in Diaz’s hometown at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.

Diaz vs. Rodriguez (2008)

“My back is against the wall in this fight…I have to go out there and show everyone I’m still capable of being one of the best and champion some day.”—Diaz

It turned out to be a grueling, physical battle between the brawling 25-year-old Diaz (26-3) and 28-year-old Rodriguez (23-2-1), but the hard hitting D-Rod appeared to take control at the midway point. However, during the course of the fight, there was plenty of give and take and no indication that anything was wrong with “El Torito.” In fact, he was still throwing punches with malicious intent. However, entering the 10th round, Rodriquez’s trademark slashing shots had finally taken their toll. Diaz looked tired and slow, with his right eye completely closed. As the 11th round was about to begin, Oscar seemed a bit shaky. Something was not right. He put his hands to his head and gave a strained moan before collapsing into unconsciousness. It was frightening to witness because going down like that without being punched meant something very bad was happening. Teddy Atlas at ringside expressed concern because of the fact that Diaz took a lot of punishment in the aforementioned loss to Golden Johnson.

Referee Robert Gonzalez immediately stopped the fight, declaring Rodriguez the winner by technical knockout. Doctors jumped into the ring to attend to the fallen fighter as the fans looked on in horror. A stretcher was quickly rushed into the ring and doctors began treating Diaz on the spot. Diaz was then taken out of the ring and rushed to the University Medical Center by ambulance. A shaken Delvin then led the fans in prayer.

We fans are extremely concerned when boxers such as Victor Burgos and Magomed Abdusalamov are damaged, but then, over a period of time, we seem to forget them. Maybe we assume—or hope—that they will be all right, but that assumption is manifestly fallacious. If they live, they will never be all right; they will never be as they once were. Not when they have to relearn how to talk and walk.

And for Oscar Diaz, the miracle never came.

Ted Sares is a private investor who enjoys writing about boxing. He is a member of Ring 4 Boxing Hall of Fame (New England) and a member of Ring 10 (New York). He is one of the oldest active powerlifters in the world and competes throughout North America under the auspices of the RAW, USPA, and the Elite Powerlifting Federations He is the 2014 EPF Nationals Champion in the Grand Masters Class.

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  1. The Thresher 06:06pm, 11/05/2016

    I am sorry to say that Oscar recently passed.

  2. Phillip 04:20pm, 11/05/2016

    Just last night I watched a war between Golden and Oscar. Looking to see what became of young Oscar led me to here.

    I’m just a fan, in awe of the speed, reflexes, balance and timing of boxers at the level of these blokes. Their toughness is in-human. No man in the world could fight either Oscar or Golden and not take a beating. As Warren Zevon sang in his great song about Boom Boom Mancini. “If you can’t take the punches, it don’t mean a thing”

    It is this supreme toughness that has caused Oscar to be gone. Look at some of these shot? I have the greatest respect for a man that can take some of these punches and keep fighting.

    I love boxing, I tried it and it’s just too hard for me. I can’t defend the toll it takes, but still I’m addicted to the contest. Golden had Oscar beaten 2 rounds before it was stopped. Without stopping the sport, referees must be quicker to see that too many shots are getting through clean and ignore the crowds need to see permanent damage.

  3. Valeria Flores Gutierrez 04:00am, 11/23/2015

    I am very saddened to learn about the passing of Oscar Diaz. As a former professional boxer myself, I’m surprised no one called to tell me about it. I always enjoyed seeing Oscar fight. He was relentless and did not know the meaning of throwing in the towel. Seeing him fight is what made me want to pursue my boxing career even more so. The boxing world lost a great champion. He was a very respectful and polite young man. May he rest in peace and my deepest condolences to his family and friends.

  4. Kid Balst 07:52am, 03/04/2015

    All good biker

  5. bikermike 08:23pm, 03/03/2015

    Thorough Medical Officiating standards can be imposed AND ENFORCED….
    ....how some guys pass the ‘medical’ should be reviewed

  6. bikermike 08:20pm, 03/03/2015

    ....even NASCAR had to clean up the sport…
    ..and now more about speed and control…and pit strength…

    Not the BUCKAROO BANZAII….days of old….when they’d send a guy into the crowd at two hundred miles an hour !!

    Boxing has to take care of the Sport…starting with protecting the Boxer..and better officiating is something that can be addressed..and needs to be addressed

  7. bikermike 08:16pm, 03/03/2015

    Officiating is very important .
    Remember the ‘gloving incidents’ ??
    ..so easy to deal with…if proper officiating had taken place.

    When a judge..or referee obviously has got it wrong…make note and find somebody else..
    ...back of the line…pal

  8. bikermike 08:02pm, 03/03/2015

    We were showing a tape/disc to the local press…about how our guy got ‘stopped’ ..in his last match…
    We had blown a lot of sunshine up their collective butts…all showing his potential…blah blah…

    During a good exchange….both these guys had about twenty amateur bouts…lately…last five for sure…against healthy opposition…

    Our guy was looking to make the national team…so he was stepping up his opposition..
    ...thing is…so did the other guy…and instead of a one two….duck…the other guy did one two THREE…and our guy got NAILED !!

    Referee IMMEDIATELY STOPPED THE FIGHT….WITHIN A SECOND>>MAYBE TWO….THAT WAS IT>...

    RSC…..REferee stops contest…

    Local press were all…questioning why so quick a stoppage…

    We got a lot of work to do to educate folks about the Sport of Boxing…and professional mismatches do such harm

  9. bikermike 07:44pm, 03/03/2015

    I love Boxing…really…..still show up to assist with weigh ins….and sit in a judges seat ....once in a bit ..(arthritis problems…so can no longer referee)

    Amateur insists on Head gear…as it should continue to do .
    Not so far back ...amateurs didn’t wear head gear.

    I’d like to study the figures…before and after…vis a vis head trauma…now that head gear has been compulsory .

    Years later…the also introduced ‘the amateur boxer/official BOOK !!

    You had to prove you were who you are…..

    Braggart couldn’t claim victories that never happened…....and ‘ringers’ could no longer get free food in the shallow waters/experience and proven officials ..vs two brother in laws…etc

    I’d say that had a lot to do with safety in amateur Boxing..as well as
    head gear.

    PLUS a true and sincere effort to improve quality of officials…world wide .
    Professional Boxing still allows top fighters to choose to clean out the shallow water…...rather than face a competitor ..who obviously ...by the names and numbers….has a better right to challenge another top fighter.

  10. Concerned 05:47pm, 03/01/2015

    I love boxing as much as the next guy. But I’ve been saying for years that protective headgear needs to be implemented in professional boxing.

    People are dying for crying out loud. To feed our appetite for competition.

  11. Kid Blast 06:30am, 03/01/2015

    Great stoppage

  12. Darrell 12:17am, 03/01/2015

    I was hoping for the corner to call time on Martin Murray’s vain efforts on the weekend…...fortunately the referee did so.  Good stoppage I thought.

  13. Kid Blast 06:02pm, 02/28/2015

    It can be one punch or an accumulation. The danger is always there. But most of the damage is done in the gym and face guards are pure baloney.

  14. Tex Hassler 05:47pm, 02/28/2015

    The first thing a boxer had to decide it that he will not ever quit. If he cannot make that decision he might as well quit boxing right then. That is also the thing that gets boxers killed. No one knows how many punches it takes to do real damage to a brain but I suspect each head punch does damage even if it is just a little. BOXING CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH!

  15. Kid Blast 12:52pm, 02/28/2015

    Thanks for the multi props LaRue. And how are things in Las Vegas?

    And yes, I was in the zone for a while but now will slow down. It was fun to get back here for a bit and I shall return..

  16. Kid Blast 12:49pm, 02/28/2015

    No. bill. Didn’t know anyone but had followed D-Rod closely over the years

  17. Dollarbond 12:42pm, 02/28/2015

    I sense you were emotionally involved in this one bull.  Did you know anyone from the cast of characters?

  18. LaRue 12:25pm, 02/28/2015

    Great stuff

  19. LaRue 12:24pm, 02/28/2015

    Are you in the zone again?

  20. LaRue 12:19pm, 02/28/2015

    Wow!! Thad’s all I’m going to say, WOW!!!

  21. Kid Blast 12:06pm, 02/28/2015

    Thanks lad

  22. Matt Mosley 11:20am, 02/28/2015

    Yes, I’ve got it.
    I have sent you mine through.

  23. Kid Blast 10:25am, 02/28/2015

    Matt, I no longer have your email address. Do you have mine.

  24. Matt Mosley 09:59am, 02/28/2015

    Well, as you know I certainly think the same way as you do about reform and boxer safety.
    It is through your articles over the years that i have become more conscious about it though. Please feel free to send me email links to them if you have my address still.
    I would love to see some way of fighters who have hit hard times or weren’t big earners being granted pensions in retirement but, although I’m an eternal optimist, I have my doubts something like that will ever happen, just because of how boxing is structured and run by mainly greedy people.
    I like to post on the forums now and again but will have to find a different site (this one is good and I will have a look at saddo) than BLH I think.
    It’s a modern site and set up great for the fans to post on but there are too many people who I don’t like on there, although the are are a few I like. Mainly the older posters.
    Why go on a site to debate with people you don’t really like though?
    I prefer intelligent, grown up debate.
    This site is one of the better ones for that I think.

  25. Kid Blast 08:50am, 02/28/2015

    As for BLH, I had my good times on it but it has changed and simply is no longer for me. But I wish it well

    When it comes to forum posting which I must admit I love to do because you can get great ideas for articles from the posts, SADDO is my choice. Plus you get the benefit of Brit-humor.

  26. Kid Balst 08:46am, 02/28/2015

    Matt, many—if not the majority—of young writers are groupie types who are hot-tempered and fierce warriors when behind the keyboard. Just take a look at them out there but have a puke bucket at your side.

    I have tried for years and years to work the reform angle and only now am I finally beginning to get some support for doing it.  I have a number of people who think as I do—or maybe I think as they do—about reform so I remain very hopeful.

    I also try to balance my love and hate for boxing and I have found a way to do this that really works for me.

  27. Matt Mosley 08:43am, 02/28/2015

    Here’s the story on the Woodhouse thing, in case you hadn’t heard about it.
    It was his twitter followers who gave him the guys address:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/boxing/9924393/Boxer-Curtis-Woodhouse-pays-Twitter-troll-a-visit-after-receiving-taunts-following-light-welterweight-title-defeat.html

  28. Matt Mosley 08:38am, 02/28/2015

    Talking of not being too sadistic, watching GGG vs Murray last week made me fell a little guilty at times.
    Them punches look PAINFUL!
    And what makes it worse is the excellent technique and shot placement.
    No wonder no will fight him.

  29. Matt Mosley 08:35am, 02/28/2015

    Thanks Frankie.
    I’m seeing more and more of those types of idiot fans on Badlefthook lately.
    The “smartass” types who like to make belittling comments about fighters when they have likely never been near a boxing ring in their lives.
    I have to admit they piss me off and I can’t help but call them out on it.
    I’m certain the vast majority would be cowards if they came face to face with a fighter.
    That made me laugh the other year when the English fighter, Curtis Woodhouse, was getting some abuse from a “fan” on twitter.
    As it happened he knew someone who was clued up with computers and tracked the guy down through his IP address.
    He turns up at the guys front door and tells him to come outside and sort it out like men.
    The guy crapped his pants and apologized. Lol.
    Woodhouse became know as “The Troll Hunter” and the MC even introduces him as such at his fights.  :)

  30. Matt Mosley 08:29am, 02/28/2015

    Well said Irish Frankie.
    Oner? That’s the slimeball who blatantly rang the bell early when his fighter was close to being KO’d a few years ago.
    If boxing had any kind of worldwide ruling body like most other sports he would, and obviously should, have been banned from boxing for that offense alone.
    For all the evils Don King and Bob Arum have perpetuated over the years they have never done something so ridiculous as that, but then they probably would if they thought they could get away with it.
    It was straight out of the pro wrestling manager handbook. I am expecting him to rake the judges eyes with a foreign object the next time he gets desperate,
    Ted, yes Margaret Goodman seems to be one of the good-hearted people in boxing. We need more like her in the positions of power that can really make a difference.

  31. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:20am, 02/28/2015

    Matt Mosley-Really great input1

  32. Kid Blast 08:19am, 02/28/2015

    Matt, he is not called Fat Dan for nothing. Just another HS groupie who made it BIG.

  33. Kid Blast 08:17am, 02/28/2015

    Thanks Irish. There are people out there like doctors Margerate Goodman and john Stiller who are fighting for reform.

  34. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:05am, 02/28/2015

    Kid Blast-Mago is in extremely dire straits even as you wrote this clear eyed, no bullshit article….if we can’t depend on the people who are supposed to protect the fighters who can we depend on? Oner is talking about throwing Solis to the wolves….WTF! This is one cut throat asshole who should be out of boxing….period! More standing eights…..no shaming for taking a knee….maybe micro chips in the gloves….IQ tests for corner men like Stan Johnson….referees that really are the boss, in control in the ring and paying attention like Tony Weeks….no more over matching so prospects can get batting practice on human beings…..on and on and on. I wrote Senator McCain years ago and he responded saying was all in for reform….that is one bullshitting asshole!

  35. Matt Mosley 07:54am, 02/28/2015

    Haha. Yeah, he’s just jealous cos he couldn’t make weight!  :)

  36. Kid Blast 07:52am, 02/28/2015

    Thanks very much Matt. And it is great to hear from you as well. I share your view and always have.

    As for Dan, deep down and like many writers, I really think he hates fighters—in his case the reasons are pretty obvious.

  37. Matt Mosley 07:42am, 02/28/2015

    Personally I watch the sport for the skill and sweet science of it, although I enjoy a FOTY as much as anyone.
    I’m glad to say I have never been a sadistic type who wants to see one guy do serious damage to another.

  38. Matt Mosley 07:40am, 02/28/2015

    Hello Ted.
    Good to see you drawing light to these subjects again.
    I hate when some fans talk about how they are dying to see one fighter give the other guy “brain trauma” or “smash his brains in”.
    I find it massively disrespectful by some morons to what these guys put themselves through for our entertainment (and to make a living for themselves of course).
    The kind of people who say stuff like that and don’t much care for these guys as people are poor excuses for human beings, imo.
    Maybe they would change their opinions a little if they went and watched pro fighters train at their local gym or at ringside live, or, more pertinently, if they could see the likes of Muhammad Ali, Wifred Benitez and Meldrick Taylor up close, to see the possible real effects of boxing.
    I sometimes think some of these momma’s basement “fans” equate boxing and fighting to a computer game and forget that there are real people involved.
    I admit to being somewhat hypocritical here, as I love to watch the sport, but, like yourself, I often question myself about why and look to justify it morally. I am also watching less of it lately.
    I mean, these are unusually tough, hard men, so it’s not like they have the same pain tolerance or bone density, etc, as the average man in the street They know what they are getting into but unfortunately some just go on too long.
    Yes, the boxers choose this way of life but the least they deserve is our respect for daring to do what most can’t or wouldn’t dare.
    The referees, doctors and trainers need to do a better job too, on the whole. I would much rather see a fight stopped to soon rather than too late.
    I also have to say i was a bit disappointed that BadLeftHook didn’t report much on the Russian Abdulsalamov, or on many other cases like his.
    It seems it’s not good for business and most would rather brush it under the carpet.
    Dan Rafael is another who rarely comments on fighters who have been seriously hurt by the game.
    Once again, credit to you for being one of the few who does report extensively on this kind of stuff.
    Keep up the good work.

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