It may be six months since Christopher Diaz’ last fight, but the Puerto Rican featherweight’s fans have not forgotten him, and he expects that they will fill up the Caribe Royale Orlando in his adopted home state of Florida to see him try to snap a two-fight losing streak against Deivi Julio.
“It's a blessing,” he said of the support he receives both at home and on his island. “I've got a big fanbase in Puerto Rico, and outside of there, all the Puerto Ricans support me. I've sold out three shows as a main event and I've been blessed with great fans. They know me as a person, and they've clicked with me. So any losses, any victories, they support me the same and that means a lot to me. That's why they deserve a world title from me.”
Despite the setbacks, the 27-year-old’s confidence hasn’t dipped in the slightest. And why should it? He lost a 130-pound title fight in 2018 to Masayuki Ito, dropped a decision to Shakur Stevenson six months later, and in 2021, he was competitive and entertaining throughout before losing a WBO featherweight title fight via 12th round TKO to Emanuel Navarrete.
The fourth loss on his 26-4 (16 KOs) record? One that he doesn’t believe should be there.
“I was a little upset about the result from the judges, because I easily won seven rounds, and seven rounds to three is an easy win,” said Diaz of his majority decision loss to Isaac Dogboe last November. “The fans who saw that fight and were watching on ESPN, they saw Christopher Diaz win the fight, so it's no doubt that I won the fight. But yeah, I took a break. I was a little upset with the sport, but I gotta keep going.”
A good number of fans and pundits believe that despite a late rally from Dogboe, Diaz won a close fight, and a controversial decision can change fortunes considerably for the one on the wrong side of that verdict. In Diaz’ case, he split with longtime promoter Top Rank, leaving him in limbo for a bit before it was announced last month that American Dream Presents, Boxlab Promotions and GH3 Promotions teamed up to sign him, with his first bout under their collective banner being this weekend’s bout, which airs on the Bally Sports Network. It’s a fresh start, not as high profile as fighting ESPN bouts under Top Rank, but a new beginning, nonetheless.
“I got a new path, new things coming, so that's why I'm back,” Diaz said. “I got a new platform focused on me in Latin America - Bally Sports - and I've also got new guys managing me and promoting my career, so we've got three fights planned and then we're going for the world title. They already know what Christopher Diaz can bring to the fight. I'm a warrior, and with the experience that I've got right now and the age as a peak athlete, everything's clicking right now, so it's time to make it count.”
Saturday’s bout against the 41-year-old Julio isn’t expected to say much about where Diaz is at after the last two fights, but it allows him to put on a show for his fans, presumably get back in the win column, and then really start the chase for the belt again at 126 pounds. In a perfect world, he expects to get his hand raised this weekend, fight again in July and October, picking up the WBA gold belt along the way, and then by December or early next year, a shot for the world title.
“It's a plan, but the wins gotta come with the plan,” said Diaz, knowing the stark realities of the fight business. Nothing moves forward unless you win, and that’s the only goal for a boxer who has plenty of backing as he tries to turn things around. Why? Because he always shows up to fight (what did you expect from a Puerto Rican fighter with Philadelphia roots?) in the ring and carries himself as a gentleman outside it.
“People see a real person,” said the married father of three daughters. “I'm not a fake person who likes to be Hollywood and all that. I don't believe in that. I've got family, I'm always a family guy, I spend time with my daughters, and people see the way I treat my family. That's me. And I'm a fighter who gives it all in the ring, I represent my island and I'm still a great fighter, a great husband and a great example for the kids coming up.”
All that’s left is a belt, and with the talent Diaz has, age on his side, and now the experience to go with those attributes, he may just get what he’s after.
“I already have 30 fights and I'm only 27 years old, so I've got a lot of experience,” he said. “I fought the best talent at 126, I fought world champions in two different divisions, and the only losses that I have are with big fighters. A lot of people believe in me, and I believe in myself, too. I got all the talent, I got the dedication, all the energy from my family, and I can be world champion. I just need the right team by my side, and I need the perfect people making the plans to be world champion, and that's what I've got now.”