By Steve Kim
This Saturday night from the Oracle in Oakland, California, featherweight Joseph 'Jo Jo' Diaz faces former title challenger Jayson Velez (23-1-1, 16KOs) as the opener on HBO. Diaz is making his debut on the network, which means that the stakes are raised and you play to a bigger audience.
But the 23-year old from South El Monte, California, says he feels "no pressure, at all. I just feel very much motivated and more grounded to the sport. I know this is my opportunity to shine and and all those other fights were my biggest fights to date but every fighter wants to fight on HBO and I'm not going to take it for granted. So I've been training very hard, like I've never trained before and I'm very focused on Jayson Velez."
Last year Diaz - who represented the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games - notched five victories and got in 35 quality rounds, where he went the ten-round distance three times. It was during this stretch that he really learned how to be a professional fighter.
"I showed everybody that I was capable of adjusting and adapting to certain styles and getting used to throwing a lot of combinations, a lot of effective shots as well. I'm practicing on sitting down on my shots a lot more and it showed in 2015 and in 2016 I want to bring the same thing that I brought in 2015," said Diaz, who now stands at 19-0 (11 KO's).
The card will be headlined by a light heavyweight clash between unbeatens Andre Ward and Sullivan Barrera.
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com.