New Faces: Joseph Diaz Jr.
JOSEPH DIAZ JR.
Hometown: South El Monte, California
Weight class: Featherweight
Height / reach: 5-foot-6 (168 cm)/ 64 inches (163 cm)
Amateur record: 112-8
Turned pro: 2012
Pro record: 18-0, 10 knockouts
Trainer(s): Joseph Diaz Sr. (head trainer), Ben Lira (cutman/second), Darryl Hudson (strength and conditioning)
Manager: Ralph Heredia and Moses Heredia
Promoter: Golden Boy Promotions
Best night of pro career: Diaz feels most happy with his last outing when he outboxed young veteran Ruben Tamayo over 10 rounds.
“I was able to show everybody what I am capable of doing,” Diaz told RingTV.com. “I was able to outbox the guy, use my defense, land combinations on the inside and outside, keep my range and keep my pace.”
Worst night of pro career: In July, Diaz outscored former top-10 contender Rene Alvarado at the L.A Sports Arena, but despite dropping the Nicaragua-born fighter in the opening round he was unable to close the show. Many ringsiders viewed a close fight, some fight scribes even scored the HBO Latino-televised match a draw.
“I felt like I could have done a lot more,” he said. “I could have trained a lot harder and had better conditioning, threw better combinations in that fight.
“But it was all a good experience for me, Rene Alvarado was a good fighter and he had great experience in there, he showed me a lot and taught me a lot because now I know I have to train really hard, every single fight and put it all on the line and make sure I leave the training with no doubts, that way when I’m in the ring I’m 100 percent sure and 100 percent confident that I’m able to get the ‘W.'”
Next fight: Diaz faces Mexico’s Hugo Partida for the vacant NABF 126-pound strap in the main event at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. on Estrella TV on Friday.
Partida, 27, is a 10-year pro sporting a ledger of 21-6-2, with 16 stoppage wins. He holds a win over recent Nonito Donaire opponent, Cesar Juarez, who he beat by majority decision in 2013. He’s usually durable, as seen last time out when he went the 10-round distance with unbeaten prospect Julian Ramirez, although prior to that he was demolished in a round by Filipino sensation Albert Pagara.
“This is going to be my toughest fight to date,” the 23 year old said. “This is going to be my most important fight as well because I’m fighting for the NABF title and I know if I win this fight it’s going to open up a lot of doors for me later on down the line.
“I’ve seen Hugo fight before and I know he has great conditioning because he’s from Mexico City, so he’s training at high elevation and I’ve seen he’s very durable as well. Me and my father, we have a good game plan going into this fight, we’re going to move around, box him at first, land effective body shots, and once I have him hurt we’re gonna be a little more aggressive and hopefully if the opportunity presents itself we’re gonna take him out.”
Why he’s a prospect: The Southern Californian fighter was a hugely successful amateur who won the Silver Gloves, Golden Gloves, PAL and was two-time USA national champion (as a teenager). He also represented his country at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics, losing both times to Cuban Lazaro Alvarez, who won gold at the 2011 Worlds and bronze at the 2012 Olympics.
“Those were great experiences,” he said. “I learned a lot, fighting internationally. You get to see a variety of styles and different techniques. I feel I learned a lot, competing at the World Championships and Olympics. It actually benefited me for the pros because those styles are kinda awkward but there’s nothing I haven’t seen.”
Diaz beat current pro prospects Oscar Valdez and Pavlo Ischenko in the amateurs.
He’s gained further experience from sparring Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares and Julian Ramirez. Being based in California is an obvious plus point not lost on Diaz:
“That’s where all the good athletes are, I can get around and there’s a lot of gyms and get great sparring.”
Since making the transition three years ago, the young southpaw feels he’s improved a lot.
“In the amateurs, I was throwing a lot of shots just to rack up points, I wasn’t throwing a lot of power shots and trying to hurt the guy, I didn’t need too,” he said, “but now I’m fighting with more ring generalship and I’m also stronger and I’m more composed in there. So I’m picking my shots in there, I’m making sure all my shots are delivered well so I can hurt my opponent.”
Diaz is currently ranked No. 16 by the WBC (at featherweight), a win would likely see him move into the top 15, while the WBO ranks him at 12 at 122 pounds (junior featherweight/super bantamweight).
Why he’s a suspect: While he possesses impressive boxing skills and seems to have the potential to go all the way, the one thing he seems to lack is punching power. Early in his career he was getting the knockouts wins, but lately the stoppages have dried up with four of his last five going the distance.
“I want to improve on my power a little more,” he explained. “Sitting down on my shots, my counter shots and most of all my defense. I mean defense is a key to winning, I feel like if I have a tremendous defense I could get to the top, so me and my father are working on defense all the time.”
Golden Boy and the Heredia brothers have done a great job bringing Diaz through, matching him with different styles, showing him different things, at this point Diaz has been able to turn back all his opponents with relative ease, things will get tougher from here on.
Story lines: “Jo Jo” first became interested in boxing at 11 years old because he was bullied.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” he said before recollecting his first experience. “Finally, I told my dad, ‘I’m getting picked on at school, is there something you could teach me?’ he said, ‘Joseph, I don’t know anything about fighting or self defense, let me take you to the local boxing gym.’ So I ended up going to the local boxing gym and that’s when I started learning self defense.”
His troubles didn’t finish there. “There was a bully there (at the gym) and he was a boxer and he wanted to pick on me. He told me, ‘You think you’re tough now? Let’s spar.’ I had no idea what sparring was, so I was like, ‘Give me a week,’ he was like, ‘OK.’ So I told my dad ‘One of the bullies wants to spar me in a week.’ He said, ‘Jo, you know what sparring is?’ I was like, ‘No.’ He said ‘That’s when you’re going to have to fight him in the ring.’ So I was scared, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m gonna get my butt kicked, I don’t know what to do dad.’ He was like, ‘We’ll learn something.’ So my dad started looking up Youtube videos and books and he was telling me stuff.
“We ended up sparring and I threw a lot of body shots. In the second round I could see he was tired, so I started throwing head shots and I made him bleed and he started crying.
“It brought me so much joy to see the bully who would pick on me at school and would make me look foolish, that I was able to make him cry. That day I fell in love with the sport and I just couldn’t leave it.”
His boxing heroes are Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“Oscar De La Hoya because he was from East L.A, he had a hard childhood as well, and he’s successful inside and outside the ring. I look up to him and want to just like him.
“Floyd Mayweather because of his work ethic. He works very hard, even with all the money he has he still puts 100 percent into the gym. I admire that he has that desire and motivation.”
Away from boxing, he enjoys spending time with his friends and family, as well as bowling, going to the mall and shopping.
Diaz, likes to keep things simple and is a self-confessed “gym rat” who has lofty goals in boxing.
“The weights I want to win world championships at are 126, 130, maybe 135, and if my body develops, 140,” he said.
Dec. 15 – Vicente Alfaro – UD 4
Feb. 2 – Jose Ruiz – TKO 2
March 16 – Alberto Cupido – UD 6
May 3 – Eric Gotay – TKO 3
June 8 – Rigoberto Casillas – RTD 3
July 20 – Luis Cosme – KO 1
Aug. 24 – Noel Mendoza – KO 3
Dec. 13 – Carlos Rodriguez – TKO 7
March 8 – Jiovany Fuentes – TKO 5
Apr. 26 – Luis Maldonado – UD 6
July 9 – Ramiro Robles – UD 10
Sept. 29 – Raul Hidalgo – TKO 7
Nov. 13 – Roberto Castaneda – RTD 4
Dec. 8 – Jose Angel Beranza – UD 10
March 6 – Juan Luis Hernandez – TKO 3
May 9 – Giovanni Delgado – UD 10
July 11 – Rene Alvarado – UD 10
Oct. 23 – Ruben Tamayo – UD 10