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Boxing Results: Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz Jr. calls out Ryan Garcia & Devin Haney after win over Javier Fortuna

Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney boxing photo

By Max Schramm: Newly crowned WBC interim lightweight champion Joseph ‘Jo Jo Diaz Jr (32-1-1, 15 KOs) wants to fight Ryan Garcia or WBC 135-lb champion Devin Haney after defeating Javier Fortuna (36-3-1, 25 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision for the vacant interim WBC 135lb strap last Friday night at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

This was the 28-year-old Diaz’s first official fight at lightweight after failing to make weight for his last fight against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in a bid to capture the vacant IBF 130-lb title earlier this year in February. That fight was ruled a 12 round draw, although many boxing fans felt that ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz Jr had done enough to win.

This was Diaz’s first fight at 135; he looked good, outworking the 32-year-old former WBA super featherweight champion Fortuna over 12 rounds to get the ‘W’ against.

Diaz Jr showed flaws in his game

There were obviously some things not to like about Diaz’s performance against Fortuna. His punching power wasn’t as good as it’ll need to be for him to contend against guys like Vasily Lomachenko, Ryan Garcia, Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, or Teofimo Lopez.

Also, how Diaz Jr fought in spurts against Fortuna that will not get the job done against the elite lightweights in the division, it worked against Fortuna, but he’s a guy on the downside of his career and not the fighter he used to be many years ago.

Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney boxing photo

The scores for Diaz Jr vs. Fortuna fight were as follows:

  • 117-110
  • 116-111
  • 115-112

This writer agrees with the 115-112 score. Diaz Jr did enough to win, but there were many close rounds in which Fortuna outworked and out-landed him.

The lack of power for Diaz Jr was noticeable throughout. Although he landed some choice shots occasionally, he wasn’t able to connect with power frequently.

When Diaz Jr did sit down on his right-hand punches, he got the attention of Fortuna, but there wasn’t enough of them. A fighter like Ryan Garcia would likely have taken Fortuna out in the first three rounds with his powerful left hook.

Those two were supposed to fight last Friday night, but Ryan pulled out for personal reasons in his life. It’s obviously too late for Ryan to fight Fortuna now, but it would have been interesting to have seen what he could have done with him last night.

Jo Jo overcame obstacles

Diaz Jr was cut early over his right eye from a clash of heads, and he had to fight with the blood leaking from the third round.

There was some rabbit punching from both guys that eventually cost Diaz Jr a point in the fourth. He came storming back after the penalization to get the better of Fortuna in the round, which evened things out.

That’s a smart thing that fighters are taught after being docked points. They’re told to attack hard, and Diaz Jr was wise to make sure he didn’t lose the round.

Diaz Jr hurt Fortuna in the 10th round with a massive right hand to the head during an exchange of shots. That was the only time in the fight when both guys flurried, and Fortuna got the worst of it.

Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney boxing photo

What was interesting was how Diaz Jr failed to capitalize on Fortuna being hurt. Diaz Jr took it easy in the next round, using the three minutes to rest rather than continuing where he’d left off in the 10th.

Was it a mistake on Diaz’s part? The top guys like Ryan Garcia, Lomachenko, Tank, and Teofimo would have tried to finish the job if they were in Diaz’s shoes.

Joseph Diaz Jr wants Ryan Garcia or Haney

“I can fight all the top guys at 135 pounds,” said Diaz after the fight. “I want Ryan Garcia or Devin Haney. Let’s make this s— happen.

“I’ve been sparring 160 pounders. I’ve always worked with bigger guys my whole life,” said Diaz.

With Diaz Jr fighting now at 135, he reminds this writer a lot of the stocky Vinny Pazienza, a good puncher in the lower weight classes but not nearly as powerful when he moved up in weight to chase paydays against larger fighters.

Diaz Jr isn’t a big puncher for the 135-lb division, and he saw that last night him needing to go the distance with Fortuna. In the lightweight division, Diaz Jr will be forced to win fights by 12 round decisions rather than count on knocking out his opposition.

What that means is that Diaz Jr will get a lot of wear & tear in his fights, and he’ll be stopped sooner or later when he faces a big puncher like Tank or Ryan Garcia.

The way that Diaz Jr fought and spurts that will not work for him against the better fighters. Obviously, Diaz Jr doesn’t have the stamina needed to fight hard for a full three-minute round without fighting in spurts.

“JoJo once again showed a lot of guts, a lot of courage, and a big heart,” Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya said. “His first fight at 135 was not too shabby. I think he did a great job against a guy who’s been avoided for years.”

It wasn’t a shabby performance by Jo Jo Diaz Jr, but it wasn’t the type of performance that gives one confidence that he can defeat the top dogs at lightweight. If you put Diaz Jr in with Vasily Lomachenko, Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia, Teofimo, or Tank Davis, he loses to all of them.

Haney a better option for Joseph

Diaz Jr is better at 130, but it’s too difficult for him to make weight for the super featherweight division at this point in his career. Hence, he’s now campaigning at 135, and he looks like a #5 or #6 guy in the division.

If you’re Ryan Garcia, this would be an excellent fight for him against Diaz Jr down the road. With the cut that Diaz Jr sustained last night, he won’t fight Ryan Garcia or Haney until 2022. That cut is going to need time to heal.

Haney is the better option for Diaz Jr because he wouldn’t have to worry about getting hit by anything big like he would if he fought Ryan.

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