Joesph Diaz Jr. prepares for pro career

By Rick Maese
Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez Estrada of Cuba, left, is named the winner after beating Joseph Diaz Jr, of the United States. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Joseph Diaz Jr.’s Olympic dreams hinged on a competitive and divisive middle round. His corner saw it one way. The judges saw it another.

“I thought it could have been even,” said Charles Leverette, a U.S. assistant coach. “Easily.”

Instead, judges scored the round 7-4 for Cuban Lazaro Alvarez, who went on to win the bantamweight bout 21-15 and advance to the tournament’s quarterfinal round.

“I think it could have been even, 4-4, 5-5. Easily,” Leverette said. “Seven points, I don’t know where that came from. Maybe I blinked or something. I don’t know. Fell asleep in the corner.”

“It’s sad and it’s heartbreaking. This is a a great young man.”

Diaz appeared to take the loss in stride. He said the second round felt closer than the scoring indicated, but he was complimentary of his opponent.

“He’s a really great fighter,” Diaz said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get the ‘W.’ But I gave everybody a show they wanted to see.”

“I thought the scoring should have been a closer, but the judges didn’t see that unfortunately. But hands-down, Lazaro is a really great fighter. I’m not going to give him no downgrade or anything.”

The 19-year old Diaz said he’ll now pursue a professional career, likely as a super bantamweight.

“I had a really great time over here at the Olympic Games,” he said. “It was a great opportunity for me, a great experience.”

“Finally I get to eat me some French fries and some cheesecake since I haven’t had that in a long time.”