One of the most talented members of the 2012 United States Olympic team, El Monte, California’s Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. made his long awaited post-London debut against Vicente Alfaro on December 15, 2012 at the LA Sports Arena, winning via unanimous four round decision.
For his local fans, it was a chance to see the talented and humble young man they’ve watched grow up in the ring over the years begin his journey to the top, and as far as boxing insiders are concerned, Diaz Jr. is a solid pick to one day wear a world championship belt around his waist.
A longtime baseball fan, Diaz Jr. nonetheless gave up playing on the diamond to take up boxing at the age of 10 in order to learn how to defend himself. With his father coaching him every step of the way, Diaz Jr. fell in love with the sport and began wowing observers with his ability between the ropes.
What followed was over 100 wins as an amateur that included two national championships, a 1-1 record with the Los Angeles Matadors in the World Series of Boxing league, and a berth on the 2012 Olympic team. In the London Games, Diaz Jr. decisioned Ukrainian Pavlo Ishchenko before losing a close 21-15 bout to Cuban world champ Lazaro Alvarez. And with that strong showing behind him, he was ready to pursue greatness in the pro game, beginning with his win over Alfaro.
On February 2, 2013, Diaz Jr. won his second professional bout, earning his first knockout when he halted Jose Ruiz in two rounds, and victories over Alberto Cupido, Eric Gotay, Rigoberto Casillas, Luis Cosme, Noel Mendoza, Carlos Rodriguez and Jiovany Fuentes followed in rapid succession.
After defeating 49-fight veteran Luis Maldonado on April 26, 2014, Diaz Jr. decisioned 12-1-1 Ramiro “Zurdo” Robles in his first 10-round bout and he closed out last year in style with two blistering knockouts of Raul “Bule” Hidalgo and Roberto “Azabache” Castaneda and a shutout decision over Jose Angel Beranza, setting up a 2015 he hopes will put him in the world title picture.
2015 certainly got off to a rousing start, as Diaz Jr. stopped Juan Luis “Perla Negra” Hernandez in just three rounds on March 6, setting up a May 9 showdown with Giovanni “Lloviznaz” Delgado at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, where Diaz Jr. earned a unanimous decision win in front of 30,000 people on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland. Diaz Jr. followed that up with two more unanimous decision victories, coming against Nicaraguan warrior Rene “Gemelo” Alvarado and Ruben “Canelito” Tamayo in July and October, respectively. Diaz Jr. closed out 2015 with a bang, forcing a referee stoppage against Hugo “Olimpico” Partida on December 18 for a technical knockout victory and claiming the NABF Featherweight Title.
In one of Diaz Jr.’s biggest years yet, the featherweight rising star opened 2016 as the HBO co-main event on March 26, successfully defending his NABF belt against one of the toughest fighters in the division, Jayson Velez, via unanimous decision. Diaz Jr. followed that up with a show-stopping performance on HBO Latino July 30, as he knocked out Victor Proa in round two to retain his title once more. The 23-year-old phenom made a thunderous to Texas on September 17 as part of the undercard for Canelo Alvarez vs. Liam Smith at AT&T Stadium, earning a ninth-round stoppage over Andrew Cancio.
In 2017, Joseph Diaz, Jr. participated in two back-to-back pay-per-view performances with wins against Manuel Avila and Rafael Rivera respectively. In 2018, Diaz, Jr. defeated former world champion Victor “Vikingo” Terrazas, and on May 19 Diaz, Jr. will have his first world title shot against Gary Russell, Jr.