Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz is going to fight for what he feels he’s worth.
Make no mistake, though—his immediate goal is to make his way to the ring for a shot at the WBC lightweight title.
“Imma fight Devin Haney in December y’all, I promise,” Diaz vowed as momentum for the matchup continues to build. “Lile Ryan Garcia, [Haney] hasn’t been tested and I’ll give Devin his first L.”
The assurance was offered shortly after Haney (26-0, 15KOs) and Matchroom Sport chairman Eddie Hearn went on air during Saturday’s DAZN telecast to reveal that a formal offer has been made to Diaz. The targeted date for the fight is December 3, for which Hearn has a hold placed on the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Haney’s hometown of Las Vegas.
The matter is on the agenda hearing for the next Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing this Wednesday, though such a ruling is a formality and less crucial to the occasion than getting the two fighters to agree to terms.
Diaz (31-1-1, 15KOs) was left without an opponent after Garcia (21-0, 18KOs) withdrew from their planned November 27 clash in the greater Los Angeles area due to a hand injury. Garcia is due to undergo surgery to repair bone and cartilage in his right wrist which will keep the unbeaten lightweight out of the ring for the remainder of the year.
The matchup was to come with Diaz’s interim WBC lightweight title at stake and with the winner to become the mandatory challenger for Haney who is still in search of an opponent for his approved voluntary defense. Diaz initially planned to hold for a rescheduled fight with Garcia, where he stood to make considerably more than what on the table to face Haney.
Hearn has since matched the offer to entice Diaz to sign the contract. The former IBF junior lightweight titlist confirmed in a private conversation with BoxingScene.com that his intention is to secure the fight though declining to go into further detail on the record.
Finalizing the fight will be a welcomed change of pace for a lightweight division that is long on verbal feuds and short of relevant action. Haney has found himself dragged into such instances, including his at-length ringside dispute with lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) following Saturday’s fight card at Chukchansi Park in Fresno.
Lopez remains on the hook to next face IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. (19-0, 10KOs). The fight is now in the promotional control of Matchroom Boxing, who is eyeing a November 27 date at a location to be determined for the event.
With any luck, Haney-Diaz will get done this week and immediately follow the division’s lone other title fight. Stepping up to the plate is a concept hardly lost on Diaz, a 2012 U.S. Olympian whose lone loss came in a competitive but clear decision defeat to WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr.
The setback saw Diaz go straight to a secondary title fight with Jesus Rojas before moving up in weight. Diaz claimed his first major title with the move, lifting the IBF junior lightweight title in a twelve-round, unanimous decision over Tevin Farmer last January in Miami Gardens, Florida. The entertaining affair saw Diaz overcome a gruesome cut in round three to eventually outbox the Philadelphia-bred southpaw to win the title.
The pandemic kept Diaz out of the ring until this past February, where he lost the belt at the scale after missing weight ahead of an eventual 12-round draw with mandatory challenger Shavkat Rakhimov. Diaz rebounded with a solid win over Javier Fortuna in their interim lightweight title fight July 9 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, replacing Garcia who withdrew due to a need to separate himself from the sport for mental health preservation.
Diaz and Haney have remained at odds ever since the former became the mandatory challenger to the latter. While a more lucrative offer was on the table to face Garcia, the recent turn of events leaves Diaz with the chance to make at least the same money while also continuing his string of tough fights.
“If you guys don’t know by now, I want them all,” insists Diaz. “I will continue to take on the best challenges for my career until it’s all [said] and done.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox