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‘JoJo’ Diaz ready for battle against Manuel Avila

Photo by Tom Hogan
05
May

“JoJo” Diaz Jr. is proud of what he has accomplished thus far in his professional career. The unbeaten fighter has passed every test, but is keen to graduate to the upper echelons of the featherweight division.

Diaz Jr., who is rated No. 8 by THE RING at 126 pounds, wants to make a statement at the expense of Manuel ‘Tino’ Avila Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The 10-round bout will open the HBO pay-per-view telecast (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT), preceding the all-Mexican clash between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.

Diaz (23-0, 13 knockouts) is coming off a one-sided 10-round decision over Horacio Garcia, which took place on December 17 in Inglewood, California.

The 24-year-old boxer-puncher, from the Los Angeles suburb of South El Monte, will not be fighting on his first pay-per-view broadcast. In September, Diaz stopped Andrew Cancio in nine rounds at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith undercard.

Tomorrow he will square off against a fellow-unbeaten fighter in Avila. The 25-year-old prospect, who resides in the Northern California city of Fairfield, may not have mixed at top level but his opponent refuses to take him for granted.

“I’m impressed with what he has done thus far in his career,” Diaz told RingTV over the phone earlier this week. “He’s someone who keeps his distance and he knows how to fight.

“I know how to adjust to my opponents. I’m going to be more on the attack for this fight. I’m going to dictate and be more aggressive.”

Diaz, a southpaw, has impressed boxing insiders with his improved skill set. He has made a successful transition from the amateur ranks which culminated in him participating in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Aside from the physical adjustments of adapting to the professional ranks, Diaz has also made mental adjustments as well.

“I’ve learned to keep my composure, more so now than when I started my career,” said Diaz, who is managed by Ralph Heredia. “I’m much more relaxed. I’ve learned not to overexert my energy; when to throw punches. I have more of an eye for detail, especially when to throw my combinations and when to jab. Overall, I believe I’ve improved mentally and physically.”

Diaz does have a stern task ahead of him in Avila. However, he believes he’s more than ready for an opportunity to fight for a world title belt. He is the mandatory challenger for the WBO title, along with being ranked in the top 10 by two other recognized sanctioning bodies.

“The featherweight division is stacked,” said Diaz. “There’s Leo Santa Cruz, Lee Selby, Abner Mares, and Oscar Valdez. I’m the No. 1 contender for that (WBO) belt (held by Valdez). I want to fight them all. I want the WBC and WBO to enforce mandatories.

“I’ll be willing to fight anyone, including those that have world titles.”

Diaz is a legit contender with a fan-friendly style who will be looking to excel on yet another big stage.

“I’m not feeling any pressure,” he said. “I just want to go out and get the job done. I want to look impressive and phenomenal.”

 

 

 

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 (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing

 

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