Rome, Italy - A spirited effort from the twenty-year fight veteran Ruben Diaz wasn't enough to dethrone European middleweight champion Matteo Signani, who prevailed with a close unanimous decision over twelve hard-fought rounds. Scores were: 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 - for the Italian titleholder.

At almost 42, Diaz was trying to become only the second Spaniard to acquire the prestigious azure belt. Win or lose - that was his last career fight. Signani wasn't to be denied but the slow opening rounds favored the Spaniard, who was more comfortable fighting at a measured pace.

Wisely, Diaz wasn't prompting action, preferring to stay outside. However, he made an impression of an active fighter by forcing rugged, muscular assaults, which looked more dangerous than they actually were. Signani was able to land more but he paid his price in close quarters, where Diaz used his physical advantage to slow the Italian down.

In middle rounds it became obvious that Diaz was slowly losing his steam - not surprisingly for the aging boxer. Complicating the issue for him was a nasty cut over the left eyebrow developed after an accidental headbutt. Signani at the same time increased the tempo, throwing more and landing at a better percentage. Diaz remained always game and ready but his punch output thinned and he looked like a more tired fighter of the two. Signani closed the show well.

The swan song for Ruben Diaz was solid. He retires with a record of 26-3-2, with 17 KOs. His best performances were in a win against former European welterweight champion Rafal Jackiewicz and in a draw versus former two-time title challenger Kofi Jantuah fourteen years ago. WBC/IBF #11 middleweight Signani is now 31-5-3, 11 KOs.