By Francisco Salazar
There is nothing like fighting at home for a pro boxer. There is also nothing like fighting for someone you look up to.
Joseph Diaz Jr. enjoys the opportunity to fight in front of familiar faces. Saturday night will be no different.
Diaz will fight in front of family and friends when he fights Rene Alvarado on Saturday night at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, Calif. The 10 round bout will open the HBO Latino telecast, which begins at 11 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. PT.
Alvarado will be the toughest fight on paper for the 2012 United States Olympian. The fringe contender from Nicaragua has a solid win on his resume over Robinson Castellanos and losses against Rocky Juarez and Eric Hunter.
Diaz recognizes the danger Alvarado brings on Saturday night.
"I'm facing a tough opponent," Diaz told BoxingScene.com in a recent phone interview. "He (Alvarado) has the will to win. He's going to be very determined and focused. He's going to try and pick you apart. I'm very confident that my Dad (also his trainer) and I have the game-plan to utilize my slickness and speed."
"I can't take him lightly. He's going to come out and get the upset over me because greater opportunities will come his way with a win. I'm young and hungry and I have the will to win."
Diaz (16-0, 10 KOs) grew up in South El Monte, a working class suburb of Los Angeles and now resides in nearby Downey.
In his last fight on May 9 in Houston, Diaz won a one-sided 10 round decision over Giovanni Delgado. The bout brought about more exposure to Diaz as the bout took place right before the Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez-James Kirkland bout on HBO.
While Diaz has enjoyed fighting in Texas and Las Vegas, there is nothing like fighting at home before family and friends.
"I love fighting at home. I love (my family and friends) supporting me."
Fighting in and around Los Angeles allows for Diaz to continue building a fan base in Southern California. That is the goal for Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Diaz.
That would be nothing new to Oscar De La Hoya, who is high on Diaz. De La Hoya would know a lot about Diaz and where he is at this stage of his career. De La Hoya also represented the United States, fought often in Southern California, and utilized the opportunities to fight on network or premium television.
Which is one of the many reasons Diaz looks up to him.
"He (De La Hoya) was a kid from East L.A. (Los Angeles) and became successful in and out of the ring," said Diaz, who also looks up to Floyd Mayweather. "He started from nothing and has built an empire. I would like to be like him and invest my money the way he has."
Diaz has demonstrated a lot of upside early on in his career. The 22-year-old admits he has a lot to improve on as a pro, but he is eager to compete for championship gold in the near future. He looks to become a legit contender in the featherweight division and hopes a win over Alvarado will allow him to continue on that path.
While 2015 has been very good for him, Diaz can not wait to see what 2016 could bring.
"I really want to be a world champion, but patience is the key. I want to pass all of these tests against the tougher opponents. I'm very excited and motivated."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing