The big moment for Joseph Diaz Jr. — his first world title shot — is less than a month away, and the undefeated Southern California contender understands his challenge. On May 19, he’ll challenge Gary Russell Jr. for the WBC featherweight championship in Oxon Hill, Md. — 12 miles from Russell’s Washington DC home.
Diaz, who is 26-0, with 14 KOs, knows the test he’s facing. Russell has two of the fastest hands in boxing, a sensational track record (his only loss was by majority decision to Vasyl Lomachenko), a great amateur pedigree, and, like Diaz, he’s a southpaw.
We spoke in-depth with Diaz, who is mentally locked and loaded for the challenge ahead of him. He’s motivated, focused, and confident that he’ll beat Russell and go on to unify that exceptionally tough featherweight division.
Before our JoJo Diaz interview, we rehash the weekend fights (Broner-Vargas, Frampton-Donaire, and those lightning-quick KOs by Gervonta Davis, Jermall Charlo, and Amir Khan.) We also talk about Canelo’s hand-slap punishment for testing dirty, and marvel at a list of more than 80 fighters (including Canelo) who haven’t yet registered for VADA drug testing. Wow.
Dennis Taylor is host of The Ringside Boxing Show, editor-publisher of www.ringsideboxingshow.com, and co-author (with John J. Raspanti) of “Intimate Warfare: The True Story of the Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward Boxing Trilogy,” currently available from Amazon.com..