Joseph Diaz Jr. wants superstardom
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Joseph Diaz Jr. may or may not receive as much press as his fellow 2012 Olympians have enjoyed thus far.
That suits Diaz just fine. His main focus is to utilize training camps in which he has to improve his skill-set, win fights and world titles.
Who knows how long it will take to mold all three goals together? However, with the determination, grit and drive Diaz has demonstrated since turning pro almost three years ago, it will be fun to watch.
The undefeated featherweight prospect will face his toughest test to date as a pro when he fights Rene Alvarado on Saturday night at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, Calif. The 10-round bout will open the HBO Latino telecast (headlined by Mauricio Herrera-Henry Lundy), which begins at 11 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. PT.
Diaz (16-0, 10 knockouts) has beaten modest opposition within the last year. He has done so impressively, whether by overwhelming and eventually stopping his opponents or by dominating the action.
In his last bout on May 9, Diaz won a 10-round, unanimous decision over Giovanni Delgado. It was disclosed after the fight that Diaz suffered a injury to his left bicep sometime during the fight.
Whether the injury was not as bad as originally reported, Diaz returned to the gym to work and was ready to accept any fight.
He will face a strong and aggressive fighter in Alvarado (22-4, 15 KOs), who stopped Robinson Castellanos in February of last year but has losses against Rocky Juarez and Eric Hunter.
“I’m facing a tough opponent,” Diaz told RingTV in a recent phone interview. “[Alvarado] has the will to win. He’s going to be very determined and focused and he’s going to try and pick you apart. I’m very confident that my Dad (and trainer) and I have the game-plan to utilize my slickness and speed.
“I can’t take him lightly. He’s going to come out and get the upset over me because greater opportunities will come his way with a win. I’m young and hungry and I have the will to win.”
Diaz, who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey, is a lifelong Angeleno. He has benefited from Golden Boy Promotions, which handles him, putting him on fight cards in Southern California, which include those at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles and the StubHub Center in nearby Carson.
Diaz does have a sizable turnouts whenever he fights in Southern California. Hundreds of family and friends will be in attendance at the Sports Arena, which is set for demolition later this year to construct a soccer stadium for the new MLS team in Los Angeles.
“I love fighting at home. I love them supporting me.”
This is great for Diaz, who Golden Boy hopes becomes a draw on television with his boxer-puncher style. The southpaw has demonstrated all facets of his game, outboxing his foes to become more aggressive and going for the knockout.
While Verdejo and Valdez fought on regular HBO last month, Diaz will still get to showcase his talents on its Latino counterpart.
Alvarado could be the right foe for Diaz to make a statement against and generate curiosity for future fights.
“I do want to make a statement [on Saturday],” said Diaz, who is managed by Ralph Heredia. “This is my first fight on HBO and it’s a big opportunity for me to stand out. I don’t have to knock [Alvarado] out but if it comes, it comes. My goal is to win every round with ease and make it look easy.”
At 22 years of age, Diaz does look like a fighter who is closing in on contender status. He does have a way to go but Diaz is ambitious enough to look toward the future.
He has gotten the taste of a big-fight atmosphere, as the Delgado win on May 9 supported the Canelo Alvarez-James Kirkland main event at Minute Maid Park in Houston, which attracted a crowd of over 31,500.
He does fit the mold of a particular fighter who would have crossover appeal, being Mexican-American and well-spoken – someone whom boxing embraced for over 20 years. That person is now Diaz’s promoter.
“I’m truly blessed to be promoted by Oscar De La Hoya,” said Diaz, who counts as De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. as his role models in and out of the ring. “To fight on the undercard of the Canelo fight and to see all those Mexicans and Mexican-Americans cheer for me, as well, that’s what motivates me and gives me that hunger. I really want to be a world champion but patience is the key. I want to pass all of these tests with these tough opponents.
“I want to show I could be the next superstar.”
Video by Dominic Verdin and Daniel Morales
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since Oct. of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco 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.