Gethin stopped in title eliminator
Martin Gethin's world-title dream was left in tatters as he was stopped in the seventh round by Panamanian puncher Ammeth Diaz in Walsall on Friday night.
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The local fighter, who lost three fights in a row four years ago and nearly quit, knew victory would make him mandatory challenger to take on Mexican champion Miguel Vazquez.
However, it proved a step too far only four months after winning the British title as the Central American bludgeoned him over seven rounds to earn another crack at Vazquez, a year after losing to the champion.
Gethin, whose face was badly swollen by the end, said: "Credit to Diaz, he's a very good fighter.
"He can punch and my ear was perforated in the fifth and it knocked me and the gameplan went out of the window to an extent.
"It's all come very quickly - I only won the British title in my last fight - so my head isn't dropping too much.''
Gethin (24-3-1, 11KOs) outboxed Ben Murphy in January to become domestic champion but knew he had to raise his game even further against Mexican banger Diaz (31-11, 22KOs).
Diaz began aggressively, landing an early uppercut as Gethin looked to box at range.
Gethin landed an uppercut of his own with the right but Diaz was also jabbing nicely and clearly carried power, doing enough to win the opening round and opening a small cut near Gethin's left eye.
He landed a good right hand early in the second and enjoyed a better session as he looked to regain some of the initiative.
Gethin's best success so far came in the fourth as he launched his first sustained attacks, swarming forwards to land a jab, right hand and left hook.
A right hand rocked Diaz's head back early in the fifth but the former world-title challenger took it well. Another, following a quick jab by Diaz, thudded home to further test Gethin's chin but the Black Country man again swallowed it without any problems.
Gethin really caught Diaz late in the round with a big left hook which had his man reeling very briefly but the round went to the away fighter.
A right-handed bolo stunned Gethin in the sixth and he had to take a knee when Diaz rushed forward winging in more power shots. A left hook did further damage as Gethin's warrior instinct kicked in.
Gethin was down again in the seventh as the two men traded and despite the Englishman appearing to get the better of the exchange, it was he who had to take an eight-count from referee Howard Foster.
Still Gethin came forward but a right hand followed by a left had him down on a knee again.
Gethin waited, disconsolate, willing himself to get up, but Foster reached his count and opted to spare him further punishment seven seconds from the end of the round.