Joseph Diaz Jr. excited to headline first show in Southern California
Three words best describe Joseph Diaz, Jr.’s ring mentality: “Bring it on!”
The 2012 U.S. Olympian is eager to show what he is made of now and what he is capable of doing in the future.
While it is refreshing to see that in a young fighter, he still has to go through a learning curve as a junior featherweight prospect.
Diaz will face hard-hitting Roberto Castaneda in the 10-round main event at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California on Thursday. The bout will headline a Golden Boy Promotions card and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1.
Things have gone well thus far for Diaz. He has built an unbeaten record against average to modest opposition and continues to improve with each passing fight.
In his last bout on Sept. 29 in Hidalgo, Texas, Diaz stopped Raul Hidalgo in the seventh round. The Diaz-Hidalgo fight was elevated to main event status when the Antonio Tarver-Jonathan Banks fight was scrapped when Tarver had to pull out because of an injury.
With Thursday’s fight taking place about an hour and half drive down Interstate 10 from Diaz’s hometown of South El Monte, he cannot wait to put on a stellar performance in front of family and friends.
“I’m very excited that I’m fighting in my first main event,” Diaz told RingTV.com in a telephone interview earlier this week. “I know I was the main event when I fought Hidalgo, but it was only because Tarver got hurt. (The fight on Thursday) is right around the corner from my hometown. I’m well-prepared and excited to fight in front of my fans.”
Diaz will face a tough test in Castaneda. While Castaneda has lost six of his last seven bouts, Diaz still considers him to be a dangerous fighter.
That was evident in Castaneda’s last fight on Aug. 16 against unbeaten Puerto Rican prospect Jose Lopez. Despite being dropped once in each of the first three rounds, Castaneda dropped Lopez four times in the first round and seemed to get the better of him during numerous sequences of the fight. Castaneda lost a disputed eight-round majority decision, where some of the scoring of rounds came into question from the Castaneda camp.
While Diaz is aware of the toughness and punching power Castaneda possesses, he wants to make a statement at the expense of the Mexican fighter to prove he is a legitimate prospect.
“Castaneda is a tough fighter,” said Diaz, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. “I thought he won his last fight, but I had heard there was some miscommunication and bad judging. He’s slow, but he has power. You have to be cautious because he may try to catch me. He is tall and I’m sure he’s going to try and cut off the ring against me.
“I know it’s a tough fight, but I want to make a statement in this fight. I’m not messing around. I’m ready to go for the stoppage or fight to win a unanimous decision on Thursday night.”
Diaz believes making a statement will put an exclamation point on a successful 2014. This will be Diaz’s fifth fight this year and he has done extremely well against veterans, former fringe contenders and a fellow prospect (Ramiro Robles).
While a victory is expected against Castaneda and some may begin on focusing on what Diaz and other prospects will do in 2015, the 21-year-old boxer would like to fight once more in December to close out 2014.
“Staying sharp is important. Boxing is not a joke. We’re hoping to push for another fight in December to close out 2014. Then we can see what we can do for 2015. I would like to fight six-seven times in 2015.
“I’ll be ready to face the big-name fighters by the end of 2015 and until then I’ll fight whoever my Dad, my manager, and Golden Boy put in front of me.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Salazar also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing