By Derek Bonnett
Once again, an active pugilist proved the point that a fighter talking about retirement is already retired. Cristian "El Diamante" Mijares, a thrice super flyweight titlist, told fans back in March that he planned to end his career in 2018 and he said good-bye to his fans in Cancun as he was certain he would never compete in that same ring again. As fate would have it, Mijares should have said good-bye to everyone that night and spared himself a crushing defeat.
Going into his lightweight bout against, fellow faded former world champion, Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. , Mijares built a ten bout win-streak since 2014 , which included victories over capable contender Andres Gutierrez and veteran Tomas Rojas. The Puerto Rican Vasquez conversely had fallen on hard times and gone only 5-7 since 2011 and not winning in nearly four years. Mijares, 37, threw little in the first round as the two showed mutual respect for most of the first three minutes. Both men circled and extended half-jabs as if looking for a good stretch to warm up. Vasquez got the better of the action in round two as he stalked, looking to land something powerful behind his right hand. A nice overhand right stung Mijares, stopping him in his tracks for a moment. Vasquez’ jab was not landing, but he threw one and that cut some distance to help him with his power shots. Mijares was all about his left hook and tried to hurt Vasquez back. The Puerto Rican stumbled along the ropes momentarily in the round, but it was more from lack of balance than the barrage.
Mijares went back to his corner with signs of swelling around his eyes, but he looked confident. Mijares pumped his jabbed in the third and seemed to find his rhythm. Vasquez took all that confidence away with a single right hook. The Puerto Rican cornered the Mexican, walking through the pepper thrown his way, and let his hands go. Mijares sunk to the canvas. It was clear that the shot had re-arranged Mijares’ face, given the Mexican one of the worst broken noses in recent boxing memory. Mijares shook his head negatively to his corner as he was counted out.
All the praise in the world to Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. for coming up big in his crossroads showdown with Mijares, but this is not how the Mexican veteran will be remembered. Mijares made his professional debut in 1997 and defeated Tomas Rojas over twelve rounds for Mexico’s 115-pound title in 2004. A year later, he ended the career of former world champion Alimi Goitia in three rounds. He was held to a draw by Luis Maldonado in a super flyweight title eliminator in 2006, but later that year defeat Katsushige Kawashima by the narrowest margins in Japan to claim the interim WBC belt. He defended the interim belt once before he was upgraded to full champion. He started 2007 by stopping Kawashima in ten rounds and then scored his career biggest victory by outpointing a prime Jorge Arce in San Antonio, Texas. Victories over Jose Navarro, Alexander Munoz, and Chatchai Sasakul followed. Mijares picked up the WBA strap with the Munoz win, but was decimated in surprisingly easy fashion by Vic Darchinyan in 2008. Mijares moved to bantamweight and lost two hotly disputed decisions to Nehomar Cermeno in 2009. He returned to super flyweight in 2010 to score a nice win over Juan Alberto Rosas and picked up the IBF belt. Mijares defended only once before moving back up in weight. In 2012, he stopped the great Rafael Marquez in nine rounds once his fellow countryman had slipped a notch or two below his best. Mijares was denied the WBA super bantamweight title by another disputed decision loss to Victor Terrazas. After a pair of wins, Mijares would lose in a world title bout against Leo Santa Cruz also at 122. Mijares competed well above his best weight for the remainder of his career, but his skills and activity kept him afloat and relevant as a fringe contender.
Mijares, 37, fought competitively from flyweight to lightweight and contended for world championships over the last twelve years. Mijares, hailing from Gomez Palacio, Durango, Mexico, amassed a record of 59-9-2 (27). In that time, he went 9-3 (4) in world title fights. He went 10-5 (3) against world champions. Although his career will surely land him shy of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, he’s earned himself a champion’s retirement.