The Rio Grande Valley was well represented at the 2021 USA Boxing National Junior Olympics in Lubbock this week as one of Edinburg’s own returned home a two-time national champion.

Fabian Diaz, a 17-year-old boxer and incoming senior at Edinburg High, was crowned the USA Boxing National Junior Olympics Champion in the Youth Male 141-pound weight class Tuesday night, after winning five fights in six days at Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.

“I had to train hard for this. I put in a lot of work. I train two times a day, Monday through Saturday,” Diaz said. “All that hard work paid off. I was doing it for my dad, my mom and God.”

Diaz emerged victorious in the championship fight against Brooklyn, New York’s Bobbie Pettigrew with a 3-2 split decision. The judges scored the three-round bout 28-29, 30-27, 28-29, 30-27 and 29-28.

The Edinburg native controlled the ring from start to finish, and closed each round strong while keeping Pettigrew moving backwards. Diaz felt it was his aggression which tilted the fight in his direction.

“I felt it was close, but the last 10 seconds is when I unloaded and I think that’s what gave me the fight. I wanted to win; I went all out,” Diaz said.

Fabian Diaz, a 17-year-old boxer and incoming senior at Edinburg High, poses with his team after winning the 2021 USA Boxing Junior National Olympics Youth Male 141-pound Championship in Lubbock this week – Courtesy Photo

Diaz began nationals with a first-round TKO in fight No. 1. He took down the defending 141-pound champ with a unanimous decision victory in fight No. 2, which sparked three straight unanimous decisions before winning the championship by the 3-2 split decision.

It’s not Diaz’s first time holding gold, however. Diaz won the USA Boxing National Junior Olympics 85-pound championship when he was 12.

He started boxing at the age of 3 or 4, he said, quickly following in the footsteps of his parents, Rene Diaz and Amber Pachceco, who have experience as professional and amateur boxers, respectively.

“It runs in the family,” Diaz said. “I’ve always liked being in the ring. It’s a good feeling.”

Diaz said he hopes to turn pro within the next two years.

Several more RGV fighters showed strong at the USA Boxing National Junior Olympics, as Donna’s Xavier Bocanegra worked his way to Youth Male 123-pound weight class championship bout against Wichita Falls’ Emmanuel Carrillo. The two put on a show with a back-and-forth fight, but Bocanegra finished on the wrong side of a 3-2 split decision.

Pharr’s Bryan Rodriguez also delivered a first-round knockout in his final bout after 1:45 against Danny Hernandez of Lemon Grove, California. Weslaco’s Andrea Favila defeated Selma, California’s Magali Perez by way of a 4-1 split decision, while Harlingen’s Naima Garcia-Ramirez was rewarded a unanimous decision win after a dominant performance against Kenya Vejar of Compton, California.

Lastly, Los Fresnos’ Oscar Ruvalcaba stopped Brandon Rodriguez of Cape Coral, Florida, in just more than a minute of their fight.

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