By Anson Wainwright
Since turning pro just over 18-months ago junior featherweight Joseph Diaz has been very active.
It’s something the 21-year old southpaw enjoys, even craves.
“I don’t like taking a break,” Diaz told BoxingScene.com last Thursday “even when I’m taking a break I’m at the boxing gym training. I just like fighting and boxing is my life.”
This Wednesday live on Fox Sports 1 “JoJo” will face tough Mexican Ramiro Robles in chief support to come backing Alfonso Gomez vs. Ed Paredes at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
It’s an opportunity the affable 2012 American Olympian is more than happy to take advantage of.
“I’m very excited because I know there’s going to be a lot of fight fans attending Canelo-Lara,” he said.
Here’s what Diaz (10-0, 7 knockouts) had to say when he spoke with BoxingScene.com about his amateur career, life in general and how he’s developing as a pro.
Anson Wainwright - You fight on July 9, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nv. What are your thoughts on that fight?
Joseph Diaz Jr. - I’m very excited, it’s going to be at the Hard Rock, it’s gonna be during a big fight week with Canelo-Lara. I’m very excited because I know there’s going to be a lot of fight fans attending Canelo-Lara, so there will be a lot of fight fans in Las Vegas that week. I’m really excited to be part of this big event. I’m ready to give everybody a great show.
BoxingScene.com - You face Ramiro Robles, what would you say of that fight?
JD - Ramiro Robles is from Mexico, he’s a very tough fighter, he has a record of 12 wins, one loss, he has a good record. It’s going to probably one of my biggest matches in pro career. He comes forward, he’s very durable, he’s strong, he just keeps coming. He gets hit and he likes to throw shots while he’s getting hit, he’ll take a shot to land one of his. It’s going to be a really good fight, it’s going to be a great show for the boxing fans.
BoxingScene.com - Your previous fight was a six-round decision over former world title challenger Luis Maldonado. What would you say of that bout?
JD - They told me I was going to be fighting Luis and I was watching him and I saw his record and I knew he had a lot of experience, he’s a tremendous fighter, he keeps coming, he has a great chin and he has all the experience in the ring. I knew going into the fight it was going to be a learning experience for me. We were supposed to be fighting an eight-rounder but due to TV time it was a six-rounder but I’m glad I went the distance with him because it was good for me to get the ring experience and to get that exposure with an opponent like him. I felt like I did good, I was landing some combinations, I was landing power shots. I felt like if I was to go eight or ten rounds I probably would have stopped him but I mean overall it was just a great learning experience.
BoxingScene.com - This will be your third fight of 2014, you've stayed very active?
JD - Yes it will be my third fight of 2014. I love staying active because I don’t like taking a break, even when I’m taking a break I’m at the boxing gym training. I just like fighting and boxing is my life, so that’s all I do, box box box. I might as well fight as well, if I don’t get any cuts or any injury’s during in my fights lets do it keep fighting. Hopefully I can fight four maybe five more times this year.
BoxingScene.com - How do you feel you've progressed as since turning professional just over 18-months ago?
JD - I feel like I’m doing really good, I feel like I’m adapting pretty well, I’m keeping my composure, I’m not over anxious and throwing a lot of unnecessary shots. I feel like I’m picking my shots well. I have a pretty good defense and I’m hurting my opponents and that’s what you’re supposed to do in the pros. I feel like I’m adapting pretty good. I’m learning every single day at the boxing gym and every single fight.
BoxingScene.com - Tell us about your younger days and how you became interested in boxing?
JD - I started boxing when I was ten years old because I was such a small kid and bullied. One of day I couldn’t take it anymore, I finally told my dad, (and asked) do you think you could show me some moves. My dad was like Joseph there’s a boxing gym right around the corner from our house, lets check it out. So I went to the boxing gym and it was crazy one of the bullies’ who picked on me at school he was there. Right away he was like “you think your tough you want to box lets spar” when he said spar I had no idea what sparring was I was kinda confused, I was like 'okay but give me a week' and he was like 'alright.' I found out sparring is when you go in the ring and you have to throw punches at the guy. I was kinda scared, I didn’t know what to do, so my dad started looking up video’s on you tube and reading books and practicing little combinations to get ready for my sparring session and as the week passed we ended up sparring and I ended up making the bully cry and bleed. Ever since then I fell in love with the sport.
I was a baseball player also but when I went to high school my varsity coach as a sophomore wanted me to baseball but he told me I know you’re into boxing and you always leave early from practice to go to the boxing but at this point you have to decide at this point if you want to box or play baseball. That was a very hard choice, I didn’t know what to do. I was still young and I was confused, I was like let me think about it. I thought about it with my parents and I told them I love boxing more than baseball at this point in my life and I went back to the varsity coach and told him I’m just gonna box, I’m not gonna play baseball anymore, I’m going to focus on my boxing career. Since then I’ve been in the boxing gym and I got hooked, I loved it, I went to tournament, I started winning, eventually I became a national champion, I became an Olympic trails winner and then eventually I became an Olympian. I thank god and my father and all the people who were supporting me throughout the years.
BoxingScene.com - You touched on your amateur career, could you tell what you achieved?
JD - In the amateurs I had over 125-fights I believe and I had 6 loses. I competed in the national silver gloves twice and I won the nationals once. I went to the nationals twice but only won them once. I was a golden gloves winner, I was a junior Olympic winner, I was two time champion at the US men’s. I also competed in Baku, Azerbaijan (at the world championships in 2011), I went to Italy, Nicaragua, I competed internationally a lot. All these fights in the amateurs they really helped me get ready for the pros, it feels like I’ve seen a lot of styles. All the styles I’m fighting in the pro’s I fought in the amateurs already so that’s a really big up for me that I got all that great experience in the amateurs.
BoxingScene.com - What big names did you fight in the amateurs?
The person I faced in Baku was Oscar Valdez, he’s doing very well now, he was a Mexican Olympian. I faced him and the winner of that was to qualify for the London games and I ended up beating him by one or two points. It was a really great fight, that made me qualify for the London games and Oscar ended up going to another tournament and he qualified for the London games as well. I fought other top prospects in the amateurs from Cuba Larenzo Alvarez, he’s a really great amateur standout, he won a couple of world championships. I fought I forgot his name (Worapoj Petchkoom) but I believe he was from the Thailand, he was a silver medallist (at the 2004 Olympics) and I fought him in Azerbaijan as well so I ended up beating him by 3 points so I got good experience and great exposure out there. It was all a good learning experience for me.
BoxingScene.com - You touched on appearing at the 2012 Olympics in London, what was that experience like?
JD - Oh man it was a blessing, just being at the London Games seeing all the elite athletes getting ready and being focused. When I’m here at the house or when I’m in America and I’m training I still see people outside messing around and having a good time but whenever I go to the gym they take it serious but not to the point where it’s a lifestyle and when I was there in London seeing all these elite athletes, it was just like there whole goal was to win the goal medal, there focus was on get the gold medal, you could tell in their eyes, the body chemistry, how they would train every single day, they would eat, go to sleep, it was a great experience for me, it was a dream come true.
Competing in the London Games I fought twice, I fought Pavlo Ishchenko from the Ukraine and I beat him and I fought Lazaro Alvarez from Cuba, I lost by a couple of points, it was a really great fight and a really great experience being at the London Games I got great exposure and I got a great fan base because of the London Games everybody saw me fight and loved my style, from then on they’ve followed me through out my pro career.
BoxingScene.com - Away from boxing what do you like to do?
JD - After training I like going to the movies, I love bowling, me and my friends go bowling all the time, we try to compete, we’re not that good. I love playing video games, I love to do things that keep me busy and entertained. I like to play sports, I like to play baseball when I’m not training. I’m very energetic. I love shopping as well.
BoxingScene.com - Who is your boxing hero?
JD - Oscar De La Hoya, the reason is because he’s so successful inside and outside the ring. His legacy is incredible, I want to have a legacy just like his. I want to be a world champion, I want to be a champion in different weight classes as well but also I want to invest my money and help my parents financially and just not worry about money. I want to do other things with my money besides boxing like invest in apartments, houses etc. Oscar De La Hoya is from East L.A and he was just a regular boy in the struggle and he achieved a gold a gold medal, he achieved world championships and now he has a great promotional company Golden Boy Promotions, he’s my hero and I look up to him a lot.
BoxingScene.com - In closing do you have a message for the boxing world?
JD - I just want to say thank you to all my fans who have supported me through out my whole boxing career I really appreciate it and I promise you guys come July 9th and all my other fights I’m always gonna give you guys great fights. This fight is really going to be a really great step up and its gonna be a really great fight so everybody tune in July 9th, it’s going to be at the Hard Rock on Fox Sports 1, I’ll be the co-main event. Thank you guys for your support and I appreciate it.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright