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Being a father has immensely impacted Jo Jo Diaz

Fighters Network

Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz has experienced heavy drama in his workspace the last several months, including losing a world title belt on the scales and dealing with managerial issues.

While Diaz is motivated to win a world title belt in a new weight division, the once-beaten fighter has another motivation in life, which is helping him get past the recent trials: being a father. It’s given him more a new sense of direction and inspiration.

Diaz will face Javier Fortuna tomorrow (Friday) night at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

The 12-round bout will precede the main event bout between unbeaten light heavyweight contender Gilberto Ramirez and Sullivan Barrera. Both fights will stream live on DAZN (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

Diaz (31-1-1, 15 knockout), who grew up in nearby South El Monte, fought to a majority-decision draw against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in his last bout on February 13. Diaz was stripped of his IBF junior lightweight title the day before the fight after weighing 133.5 pounds.

Rakhimov was the more-effective fighter early on, but Diaz won the majority of the rounds during the second half of the fight.

The 28-year-old took the fight early last month against Fortuna after original opponent, unbeaten Ryan Garcia, withdrew from the fight due to personal issues.

The Diaz-Fortuna scrap should be an action fight between two boxer-punchers.

The WBC recently ordered the fight to be for the interim world title belt.

Diaz believes he can be in the mix against the top fighters in the division, should he defeat Fortuna.

“I never thought I would be fighting at 135 pounds this early in my career,” Diaz told The Ring over the phone on Tuesday. “I really felt that I was at my best in my career at 130 pounds, but I feel that much stronger and sharper now as a lightweight. I’m confident I can get more opportunities after defeating Fortuna, who is a tough and dangerous opponent. I believe he is more of a one-style type of fighter. I’m just going to go in there and demolish him like I do the other fighters I’ve faced.”

So, Diaz became a father in December. Like most parents in this digital age, Diaz has posted pictures of his son on his social media, whether at the beach, a park, or inside their home.

Assuming parental duties can be overwhelming for some, but Diaz has embraced being a father. Even during the fallout of having been stripped of the IBF title and dealing with ongoing managerial issues, which he did not want to comment on,  Diaz believes fatherhood has been the best thing to happen to him.

“Being a father is more than what I would have imagined,” said Diaz, who has been promoted by Golden Boy since turning pro in December 2012.

“I look into his eyes and I find my purpose in being the best I can be for him. I want to protect and guide him at every opportunity. There’s little things that he does that is a resemblance of both me and my fiancé. He’s seven months old, but I feel a connection to him every day since he was born.

He’s not done; it’s clear that being a father has very much altered his POV. “My son motivates me every day when I’m in the gym,” Diaz said. “I want to give him that foundation where he is taken care of and he has the right tools and resources for whatever he wants to do for his future. Fatherhood has given me that light in my life, even as I’ve dealt with my depression.”

Diaz is confident a win would open more doors for him at 135 pounds. There is the possibility of facing Ryan Garcia, WBC titleholder Devin Haney, or any of the other top-tier lightweights in boxing, politics notwithstanding.

He understands he will have his hands full against Fortuna, who is ranked No. 6 by The Ring, but Diaz is confident the challenges he has faced and overcome inside and outside the ring will give him the edge Friday and in future fights at 135 pounds.

“I would to face the best in the lightweight division. It could be Ryan (Garcia), Haney, Gervonta Davis, (Ring Magazine lightweight champion) Teofimo Lopez, (Vasiliy) Lomachenko, (Richard) Commey. It doesn’t matter who it is. I just want to fight the best. I’m just happy where my life is now. I’m just focused on being the best father I can be.”


Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring 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. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing