- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- Former unified lightweight titlist Juan Diaz is now three fights into a comeback following a 2½-year retirement and getting sharper with each fight.
He laid a beating on Denver's Juan Santiago on Saturday night, winning a lopsided 10-round unanimous decision on the Mike Alvarado-Ruslan Provodnikov undercard at the 1stBank Center.
All three judges had it for Diaz, 100-90, 99-91, 97-93. ESPN.com also had it 100-90 for Diaz -- "The Baby Bull" -- who signed a six-fight, 18-month promotional deal with Top Rank earlier this month with the promise that the company would get him another lightweight title shot during the contract.
"I feel great. I needed the rounds," Diaz, 30, said. "He gave me a good fight. I went 10 rounds and I got the victory. I got some much-needed rounds. I think I broke him down very well throughout the fight. I boxed more in this one than in the previous two [comeback fights]."
Diaz (38-4, 19 KOs) went right at Santiago (14-11-1, 8 KOs) in the first round, stood in his chest and fired away. The only break Santiago got from Diaz's relentless pressure was the brief respite he got to have his mouthpiece replaced when it came out.
In the second round, Diaz cranked up his left hook and landed to the head and body in a dominant round. Although Santiago got through with a few solid shots, Diaz dominated the fight, consistently landing left hooks to the body and right hands to the head.
Diaz clobbered Santiago with a pair of clean right hands to the head late in the sixth round, again knocking his mouthpiece out. It was that kind of night for Santiago, whose right eye was swollen for most of the fight.
With Diaz now 3-0 on the comeback trail, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti -- who worked with Diaz when he was promoted by Main Events and was instrumental is bringing him to Top Rank -- said the Houston native would return in January or February for another tune-up-type fight before stepping him up.
"I think I need one more fight before I'm ready for a title fight," said Diaz, who retired after losing a lightweight world title fight in a rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez in July 2010, then came out of retirement to win bouts in April and August.
Diaz won a 135-pound world title in 2004 and made seven defenses, including unifying three of the major belts, before losing to Nate Campbell via split decision in 2008.
Freitas' nephew scores knockout
Brazilian junior lightweight Vitor Jones de Oliveira (1-0, 1 KO) hammered Martin Quesada (2-8, 2 KOs) of Denver with a series of brutal right hands to the body, dropping him three times in a second-round knockout win. Jones de Oliveira is the 20-year-old nephew of former lightweight and junior lightweight titlist Acelino "Popo" Freitas, who worked his corner along with brother Luiz Freitas, also a former professional fighter. Jones de Oliveira was all over Quesada, and when he dropped him for the third time with a right hand to the body in the second round, referee Stephen Blea called off the bout at 2 minutes, 1 second. Jones de Oliveira won his pro debut by first-round knockout in July 2012, but the result was changed to a no decision after he tested positive for a banned substance.
• Denver welterweight Daniel Calzada (9-9-2, 2 KOs) won a hard-fought majority decision in a high-contact battle with Carlos Marquez (4-2, 1 KO) of Longmont, Colo. They spent most of the six-rounder trading shots, and when it was over, two judges had it for Calzada, 59-55 and 58-56, and one had it 57-57.
• Denver junior lightweight David Escamilla (3-0, 1 KO) took a unanimous four-round decision against Jair Quintero (1-1-1, 0 KOs) of Mexico in a hard-fought slugfest. Escamilla, who trains in Alvarado's gym, dropped Quintero with a body shot in the second round and won 39-36 on all three judges' scorecards.
• Bantamweight Starling Cordero (7-0, 4 KOs) of Puerto Rico, half-brother of welterweight prospect Thomas Dulorme, blitzed Abraham Rubio (3-2-1, 1 KO) of Mexico in a first-round knockout win. Cordero dropped Rubio, who did not get off a serious punch, with a flurry of punches and then referee Blea stopped the fight at 1 minute, 39 seconds during the follow-up attack.
• Heavyweight Donovan Dennis (9-1, 7 KOs) of Davenport, Iowa, pounded on Hugo Arceo (3-1-1, 3 KOs) until the fight was stopped at 2 minutes, 33 seconds of the third round of their scheduled six-rounder. Arceo spit out his mouthpiece repeatedly before the bout was called off.
Former lightweight titlist Juan Diaz is now 3-0 on the comeback trail, is closing in on a title shot, after beating Juan Santiago by unanimous decision on Saturday.