Christopher 'Pitufo' Diaz Hopes Puerto Rico Will Have a New World Champion on July 28
Published: July 23, 2018
Undefeated Puerto Rican contender Christopher "Pitufo" Diaz exudes confidence just days away from his first world title opportunity. He is a student of Puerto Rico's rich boxing lineage, and he will do whatever it takes to fulfill his dream of adding his name to the long list of world champions from the 'Island of Enchantment.'
Diaz will fight Japanese veteran Masayuki Ito for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior lightweight title on July 28 at the Kissimmee Civic Center.
"It's time to show the world what I'm made of. Being able to fight for a world title is the dream of every boxer," Diaz said. "I am prepared for my first chance to win a world title because I've been through many years of sacrifices, and I have waited all my life for this moment. Now the moment is here. I'm hungry and focused. On July 28, Puerto Rico will have a new world champion."
Diaz (23-0, 15 KOs), from Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, is entering his first world title match riding a four-bout knockout streak. The WBO’s No. 1 junior lightweight contender, Diaz won the vacant NABO junior lightweight title last December with a third-round knockout of Bryant Cruz, knocking Cruz down five times en route to the stoppage. In his last bout, March 17 on the Jose Ramirez-Amir Imam undercard at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Diaz defeated Braulio Rodriguez via fourth-round TKO to earn the shot at the world title. For Diaz, this world title opportunity is a beacon of hope, as his home and most of his possessions were destroyed when Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico last year.
"I have a tough fight against Masayuki Ito, but I am very focused. I know I have all of Puerto Rico in my corner," Diaz said. "Without the support of my people, none of this would be possible. Thank you for always supporting me and sending me positive vibes. On July 28, my mission will be to bring the world title to the island."
Ito (23-1-1, 12 KOs), from Tokyo, is the WBO’s No. 2 junior lightweight contender. He has won seven consecutive bouts since the lone defeat of his career, a 10-round majority decision to then-undefeated Rikki Naito in February 2015. Ito, who has fought all of his professional bouts in Japan, has won four of his past five bouts via knockout, including a ninth-round stoppage of Lorenzo Villanueva in April of last year. In his last bout, on March 3 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Ito stopped Vergil Puton in the ninth round.
Diaz-Ito will stream live and exclusively in the United States at 9:30 ET on ESPN+ — the recently-launched multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company's Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN. Undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. ESPN+ is available to all fans on the ESPN App and ESPN.com.
(Featured Photo: Peter Amador/Top Rank)