With distractions pushed aside, does JoJo Diaz finally have it all together?
By Mike Coppinger
When Ryan Garcia withdrew from his July 9 bout with Javier Fortuna to address his mental health, Joseph Diaz Jr. raised his hand.
Diaz (31-1-1, 15 KOs) immediately offered to fight Fortuna, even though the bout would be contested one division above his natural fighting weight of 130 pounds. After days and days of pleading for the fight, the matchup was his and on Friday in Los Angeles he'll meet Fortuna for the vacant WBC interim lightweight title. The fight will be broadcast on DAZN.
Diaz says he's ready for "the biggest fight of my career by far," but he's been in tough before. Diaz defeated Tevin Farmer to win a 130-pound belt, but he believes the stakes are higher this time. Turn back Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs) and Diaz would become the mandatory challenger for Devin Haney, the WBC lightweight champion -- even though Teofimo Lopez is widely recognized as a four-belt champion.
"I'm going to be looking for the knockout, I'm going in with bad intentions," Diaz told ESPN. "I feel f---ing energized, strong, quick [at this weight], not weak and depleted. I feel really good. I feel like this might be my weight.
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