Trainer Joel Diaz believes Danielito Zorrilla is more suited for a different profession than being a prizefighter.

“Zorrilla should be a telenovela actor.” 

Diaz trains junior welterweight Ruslan Madiyev, who lost by technical decision to Zorrilla Thursday night at the Municipal Boxing Gym Felix Pagan Pintor in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. The eight-round bout opened the ‘Ring City USA’ telecast on NBC Sports Network, the first of 2021. 

Zorrilla, who resides in nearby Toa Baja, was the more-effective fighter during the first three rounds of the fight before Madiyev began to walk him down in round 4. His consistent pressure allowed him to connect with the occasional hook or cross to the head of Zorrilla. 

Madiyev was deducted a point in round 5 after he landed a right hand to the back of the head. Despite the point deduction and sensing Zorrilla was slowing down from the impact of the punches, Madiyev continued to apply pressure by walking him down and landing punches to the head. 

Near the end of round 8, Madiyev connected with another right hand to the head, forcing Zorrilla to drop to one knee against the ropes. Zorrilla remained on one knee as a ringside physician attended to him, eventually saying he was not able to continue, prompting referee Manny Guzman to stop the fight. Because Zorrilla was not able to continue from what was correctly ruled a foul to the back of the head, the fight went to the scorecards.

One judge scored the bout 76-75 for Madiyev (13-2, 6 KOs), while the other two judges scored the bout 77-75 and 77-74 for Zorrilla, who improved to 15-0, 11 knockouts. Upon hearing the scores and outcome, Madiyev left the ring in disgust. 

Rather than Madiyev, who is originally from Kazakhstan and now resides in Indio, California, provide post-fight comments, Diaz did that for him.

“The result of the fight wasn’t fair,” said Diaz. “We knew we came to Puerto Rico with everything against us. Ruslan was just getting his groove. He as stronger after the fifth. Zorrilla started to slow down because he was tired. He kept hugging Ruslan most of the fight. The referee took a point away from my fighter for hitting him in the head, (which) I understand. But Zorrilla was hugging too much, and during exchanges. I told the referee three times, ‘Zorrilla is hugging too much, pay attention.’ But he never paid attention. That (punch) at the end wasn’t even a (punch) - it was more of a scratch.”

Replays did show Madiyev throwing and landing a punch to the back of the head in both rounds 5 and 8. While the punches did connect, Diaz believed the punches weren’t as severe and that Zorrilla was looking for a way out.

Diaz also claimed representatives from Golden Boy Promotions reached out to him, stating Madiyev should have won the fight. Golden Boy co-promotes Zorrilla along with Miguel Cotto Promotions. 

“Personally, Zorrilla wanted out of the fight,” said Diaz. “Because of the experience I have, I can tell (Zorrilla) was tired. He couldn’t;’t handle the pressure, and chose the right moment to say Ruslan hurt him. He wasn’t hurt. He’s a good actor. He should go do movies.

“We were winning the fight. Golden Boy called me and said they watched the fight, and we won. This isn’t fair for my fighter because he put in the work (in the gym), got ready, but what can we do? We (have) to keep moving forward.”

Madiyev drops to 13-2, 6 KOs. He has now lost his last two fights.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.