Joseph Diaz is ready for the big time
By Hector Franco
This weekend Joseph Diaz makes his debut on HBO against Puerto Rican Jayson Velez. It will come on the undercard of the highly anticipated return of Andre Ward against Sullivan Barrera. The bout is a crossroads bout as Velez is a contender who has yet to win a world title. Diaz is an Olympic prospect that is looking to make his stand in the featherweight division. Besides there being a fight between a contender and prospect, it’s also a bout that is in the long history of boxing’s greatest rivalry, Mexico vs. Puerto Rico. Diaz when asked, admitted that this fight could bring back memories of some of the best fights of the rivalry.
“I know this fight is going to be a war,” Diaz said during a conference call promoting the bout with Jayson Velez. “There’s a lot at stake. Jayson Velez is a contender who lost his previous fight with Ronny Rios. He wants to bounce back and get a title shot by the end of this year. He wants to defeat me. I got to put on a big performance. We expect fireworks because I’m sure he’s going to want to exchange punches with me. I’m going to sit down and trade punches with him. It’s going to be a great exciting fight. If the knockout comes, the knockout comes. If we end up going the distance, we go the distance. We’re ready for anything."
Diaz knows that this is his time to shine. There have been many fighters in the past who have gotten the opportunity to get on the big stage and have fallen short. There is a new era in boxing upon us and the door is wide open for any prospect to put themselves at the head of the pack. That could be a lot of pressure for an up and coming prospect, but Diaz doesn’t see it that way.
“Its actually no pressure at all," Diaz said of the pressure to put himself ahead of all the other prospects in the sport. “It's actually more motivation. It makes me more disciplined and grounded to the sport. I know that this is the biggest fight of my career. I know with the next generation, I want to be the one that stands out. I want to be the one that the fans are going to follow and be by my side. I know on March 26th, I have to put on a great performance and show everyone what I’m capable of doing and I’m going to do so."
For Diaz this bout is just the beginning in 2016. The plan is to fight at least four times this year. Diaz wants to keep building his fan base by staying active in his profession. “After this fight if everything goes well and I don’t get any injuries, I want to stay very active,” said Diaz when asked about his plans for 2016. "I want to get at least four fights this year. I want to keep busy and get the recognition. I want to build my fan base and that way when it is time to fight these guys for a title, I can have a fan base to support me."
The young fighter from South El Monte, California seemed to know that the stakes are high in his bout with Velez. The training camp for his bout with Velez has been one that has prepared him for this moment in his career.
“Absolutely we had about an 8 ½ to 9 week training camp,” said the 2012 U.S. Olympian about his training camp. “We’ve been focusing on everything from power to speed. Darryl Hudson my strength and conditioning coach has been getting me ready to go 10 rounds. I’m feeling very strong and very fast. My head movement is good. My footwork is good. I feel like I’m at a new level. I’m at 110%. I’m ready for whatever Jayson brings to the table. I’m excited to show my skills and showcase who Joseph Diaz is on March 26th on HBO. I’m going to make a statement."
The featherweight division is one of the most exciting divisions in all the sport. It’s filled with young fighters. Nobody as of yet has made their claim as the best in the division. There are a couple of fighters who have put themselves as leaders of the pack.
“You know what I think there are a couple of guys right now that are at the top of the division,” Diaz said. "There’s Leo Santa Cruz and Lomachenko. I feel like there at the top of the division right now. I want to work my way up by defeating guys with big names and good records. I want to step in the ring with those guys. I know they are at the top of the division right now. That’s where I want to be. One day we’ll share the ring with one another, but I need to take care of business first. I need to work my way up to get that opportunity.”
This Saturday night fans can look forward to seeing Joseph Diaz in action once again. Diaz has the chance to prove that he is the leader of the next generation.