Monday, March 27, 2023  |


Javier Fortuna surprised that JoJo Diaz agreed to meet him


Javier Fortuna was shocked when he learned that JoJo Diaz had accepted an offer to fight him.

The two will collide in an all-southpaw main event on July 9 for a tertiary lightweight title in a scheduled 12-rounder at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. DAZN will show the battle.

Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs), a Dominican Republic native based in Braintree, Massachusetts, was initially slated to take on contender Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs). However, two weeks after their bout was announced, the 21-year-old social media sensation abruptly withdrew to focus on his mental health. Days later, Garcia was seen in Hawaii and was back to training approximately two weeks after, teasing a possible ring return for September.

Fortuna quickly touched on the Garcia fight falling through the cracks.

“I know there is a God above, and he sees everything,” he told The Ring. “I checked with God after it happened, and I wished him the best and said that he could take his time. Then I saw that Ryan Garcia was training after I announced my fight [with Diaz], and I saw him in Hawaii with his wife. He looked pretty happy to me. I was pretty upset when that happened.”

But the former 130-pound titlist in Diaz (30-1, 15 KOs) stepped up to the batter’s box.

He lost his IBF title on the scales and fought Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov to a majority draw on February 21 in California. The 28-year-old Diaz was yearning to put that embarrassing episode in the past. And the only way for him to do that from his vantage point was to take a risk.

It’s “Joseph” more often than “JoJo” now, indicating a desire to aim for an upgraded level of maturity, diligence and performance.

“I started thinking and plotting on how to get right back into the ring and how to get my name a household name once again, and on that pedestal and on that top of the leads again. I need to be there again,” Diaz said. “And I really need to go out there and showcase to everybody that that wasn’t me that night, and I’m an elite fighter, and I’m a star so I started praying to God, man, things just ended up happening my way, man.”

Fortuna was impressed by Diaz’s fortitude but is hopeful that he comes ready to fight. “I never thought he would accept the fight with me. I was doubtful at first because he was at 130 pounds. But as days went on, I heard that he had officially accepted [the offer] to fight me,” Fortuna said. “Now, I just hope he doesn’t have any excuses on the day of the fight.

“I don’t want him to have excuses [if things don’t go his way]. Because some fighters when they lose say, ‘I lost because of this reason or that reason.’ I hope we put on a great fight for the boxing fans.”

Fortuna was supposed to face former three-division world champion Jorge Linares last August, but Golden Boy canceled the entire card after Linares tested positive for COVID-19.

Three months later, Fortuna scored a sixth-round knockout of Antonio Lozada Torres in a scheduled 10-round headliner in Los Angeles.

The 32-year-old held the WBA super feather title in 2015—he beat Bryan Velasquez for a vacant belt, defended against Carlos Ivan Velasquez, and then dropped it to Jason Sosa.

Fortuna received a title shot versus IBF lightweight titlist Robert Easter in 2018, but came in overweight, and lost via split decision.

A victory over Diaz would put Fortuna in position for another title shot attempt.