LAS VEGAS – There wasn’t a moment of hesitation when he stepped on the scale or a sigh of relief once Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz heard his weight announced ahead of his second fight at lightweight.
The hard work was already put in by the time Diaz was due to officially weigh in for his upcoming challenge of WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney (26-0, 15KOs). Both fighters appeared in phenomenal shape during Friday’s weigh-in, with Haney coming in right at the 135-pound divisional limit while Diaz weighed a trim and fit 134.4 pounds for their title fight this Saturday live on DAZN.
“I feel solid. My body’s not depleted,” Diaz told BoxingScene.com of his second fight at lightweight. “I’m not thirsty, not thinking about cheeseburgers or fries right now. I feel solid and ready to go.”
Diaz (32-1-1, 15KOs) made the move up in weight earlier this year after having to abandon his IBF junior lightweight title reign due to badly missing weight for a mandatory title defense versus Shavktadzhon Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12KOs). The February 13 DAZN headliner was permitted to move forward after Diaz—who weighed 133.6 at the official weigh-in—met the terms of the second-day weigh-in, where fighters cannot weigh more than ten pounds above the contracted limit for an IBF title fight.
The two fought to a draw, leaving the IBF belt vacant and Diaz never returning to the division. The 29-year-old southpaw from South El Monte, California has since campaigned at lightweight, officially weighing 134.4 pounds both for his win over Javier Fortuna on July 9 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles and again on Friday ahead of his challenge of Haney.
The bid to become a two-division titlist comes at Diaz’s fourth official weight class, having begun his career at 122-pounds immediately following his representing the U.S. in the 2012 London Olympics. Diaz eventually made his way to featherweight, where he emerged as a top contender before falling short to WBC titlist Gary Russell Jr. in a competitive but clear defeat in their May 2018 title fight.
An effort to gain a secondary WBA title at the weight saw Diaz come in heavy for an eventual win over reigning beltholder Jesus Rojas in August 2018. It was the launch of a current seven-fight unbeaten streak, though also his last stop at featherweight before setting his sights on the junior lightweight division.
Diaz hit paydirt in his win over Tevin Farmer to claim the IBF junior lightweight belt last January, only for his newfound momentum to be stalled by the pandemic. More than a year passed by before the fight with Rakhimov, with his scale fail ending his title reign without a single successful defense.
Ironically, the setback didn’t hold back his career on bit. Diaz enters his third fight of 2021 at a time when most top fighters are fortunate to get more than one bout per year.
The timing in landing the fight with Haney couldn’t have been any better for Diaz, given the activity in the division even if he’s not expected to win on Saturday. The same was said, however, of George Kambosos’s chances ahead of his eventual upset win over Teofimo Lopez to win the lineal/WBA “Super”/IBF/WBO/WBC “Franchise” lightweight titles one week ago in New York City.
“I know people were trying to write me off after what happened with (the Rakhimov) fight, and even here,” notes Diaz. “But it’s always good to be the underdog. There’s no weight on my back.
“All I have to do is go in there, execute and just enjoy doing what I do. I get to enjoy it even more without the weight cut and depleting my body.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox