Photo: Lina Baker, Instagram @seeyoringside
Tomorrow marks the continuing rise of blue chip prospect Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. 19-0 (11KO’s) as he steps in the ring to face former world title challenger Jayson Velez 23-1-1 (16KO’s) in a visible step up in competition.
Diaz, a 2012 Olympian has moved fast, winning impressively then returning to the ring quickly. After blasting out Hugo Partida in December, promoter GoldenBoy moved quickly when the opportunity to put Diaz’s boyish good looks and insane level of talent on HBO where the duo of Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman’s commentary will boost his standing with casual or “less hardcore” boxing fans.
Standing in the way of Diaz’s anointing is tough Puerto Rican and former world title challenger Jayson Velez. Coming off a loss against Ronny Rios, Velez said “People keep asking me why I took this dangerous fight and the answer is easy…if I want to be the best, I have to fight the best. Joseph is one of the best.”
In what’s becoming the mantra of Goldenboy and is even their description line on their official Instagram page is “Best vs Best” throwing Diaz in against Velez is a signal that they are ready to turn this prospect into a contender and that means he’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. By fighting good ranked fighters.
“This is my first time fighting on HBO, so I really want to showcase who I truly am.” Said Diaz yesterday at the final press conference. “I’m ready to give fight fans a war if Jayson Velez wants to have a war. I’m ready to showcase to everybody all the abilities I have inside the ring.”
It may take a war to win against Velez. Former title holder and human buzz-saw Evgeny Gradovich fought to a draw against Velez and Ronny Rios won a tight decision over the Puerto Rican in a fight that was very competitive.
The 2012 US Olympic team may have been a disappointment in Beijing but with prospects and contenders like Diaz, Errol Spence, and Terrel Gausha the professional continuance of their careers looks to be promising.