Joseph Diaz Jr.: ‘I’m willing to fight all the champions at 126’
Is Joseph Diaz Jr. still a prospect or a world title contender? That depends on whom you ask.
Diaz believes he is more the latter of the two and he wants to prove it by facing the best opposition in the featherweight division.
Before he faces the elite of the division, Diaz will take on Victor Proa this Saturday at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
The 10-round bout will precede the main event bout between junior welterweights Antonio Orozco and Abner Lopez.
Both fights will air on HBO Latino, beginning at 11:15 p.m. ET/PT.
The 23-year-old Diaz is coming off a one-sided 10-round decision over Jayson Velez on March 26 in Oakland, California. The victory earned Diaz, who is from the Los Angeles suburb of South El Monte, a No. 9 ranking by THE RING magazine.
Diaz faces Proa, who holds an impressive record of 28-1-2 (with 21 knockouts) but was inactive for six years before returning to the ring on Feb. 5.
The Proa fight is likely a stay-busy fight for Diaz, who is looking to fight twice more in 2016 and against solid opposition.
“They’ve been keeping me very active and I’m grateful for these opportunities to showcase my talents on HBO,” Diaz told RingTV in a recent interview. “I believe my pro career has been incredible thus far. I want it to get better, (eventually) fighting for a world title.
“I want to keep my name out there because I’m still young. I want to keep my name relevant. There’s a lot of fights going on every single weekend, so I want to constantly fight and stay busy because I want to keep my name relevant. I’m always in the gym. I’m a gym-rat. I’m so young that I might as well take advantage of it.”
There is a strong possibility Diaz could return to action on Sept. 17 in Arlington, Texas on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith fight.
The names of a few contenders and titleholders have been thrown around but that idea is reliant on whom is available and which promoters could work with Golden Boy Promotions, who promotes Diaz.
Diaz (20-0, 11 KOs) is willing to fight anyone.
“I want all the champions in my weight class,” said Diaz, who is managed by Ralph Heredia. “I want to show to everybody, including the fight fans, that I’m not scared of anyone. I’ll fight any champion in my weight class and I want to show I can beat them.”
Less than four years ago, Diaz was representing the United States at the London Olympics. Some in boxing may consider him to still be a prospect but he is ranked in the Top 10 by three of the four major sanctioning bodies.
Diaz believes he is already among the top players at 126 pounds.
“I feel that I’m already a world title contender. A lot of people may think that I’m still an up-and-coming fighter and that’s OK. I’m willing to prove to them that I am a world title contender on July 30 and in September as well. Whomever my promotional company wants to put in front of me, I’m willing to fight them because I know my capabilities. My manager and my team knows what I’m capable of inside the ring. I’m ready to fight whomever they put in front of me.
“If everything goes well on July 30, if I don’t get any cuts, I’m looking to fight again in September and hopefully once more in December. I hope the December fight is a world title shot. If not, I hope it’s against a world title contender. Maybe it would be an elimination bout that allows me to fight for a world title at the beginning of 2017.”
There could potentially be many good fights for Diaz against today’s titleholders and contender.
But one has to like Diaz’s enthusiasm and eagerness to fight the best in his division. So far, Diaz has passed significant tests in his career but the challenges will likely get more difficult from here on out.
That’s all good for Diaz.
“I’m willing to fight anybody, all the champions at 126. I know they’re all tough fighters and they’re very aggressive. They’re very skillful and elite fighters but I know what I’m made of. I know that if I train hard and give it 110 percent inside the gym, and with my work ethic, I feel that nobody can beat me. I’m willing to showcase to the world that I’m not afraid of anyone in my weight class.
“I want to fight all of those guys and show the world that I’m the best (fighter) at 126 pounds.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.