All that Joseph Diaz Jr. wanted was to remain active ahead of his second career title fight.
The 2012 U.S. Olympian believes to still be on that course, even after a tougher-than-expected outing in barely edging Venezuela’s Jesus Cuadro. The former featherweight title challenger was forced to settle for a 12-round majority decision Saturday evening at Auditorio del Estadio in Mexicali, Mexico. One even score of 114-114 were overruled by tallies of 115-113 and 116-112 in favor of Diaz, who was forced to contend with a hand injury right out the gate but still doing his part for the sake of the bigger picture.
“It was awesome fighting in Mexico,” said Diaz (30-1, 15KOs), whose lone other ring appearance south of the border took place in Cancun in his third pro fight more than six years ago. “It was my first time fighting in Mexicali, I wanted to give them a big fight to remember.”
Cuadro (18-6, 14KOs) had the same idea in mind, perhaps even more so after California’s Diaz was reduced to a one-handed fighter for 11 of the 12 rounds of super featherweight action.
“It wasn’t difficult,” Diaz insisted of his night’s work. “In the first round, I hurt my left hand and didn’t want to do anything (to) it after that. I got a big fight so I just wanted to fight smart, work behind my jab and move forward towards (a title shot).”
Diaz is a top-rated challenger to the secondary 130-pound title presently held by Andrew Cancio, whom he bested in Sept. 2016. The bout actually prompted a then-frustrated Cancio to retire, before returning to the ring last year. He’s now armed with a title, but with it also a mandatory challenger in the form of a rematch with Nicaragua’s Rene Alvarado.
That leaves Saturday’s winner to look in another direction for his second shot at a first major title, having now won four straight following a 12-round loss to featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. last May. A shot versus Cancio would seemingly be easier to make since both fight under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, but rather than sit and wait the resurgent contender prefers a path on which he’s planned to travel all along.
“Tevin Farmer baby,” Diaz emphatically stated in his next desired target, referring to the streaking southpaw who has held a title for more than a year. “Hey, Tevin Farmer has been calling me out. Let’s get this show on the road.
“I had a good little fight here, and got this out of the way. Let’s go in December, man. Tevin Farmer, I’m calling you out.”
Also on the card, Mexicali’s own Leonardo Baez (17-2, 9KOs) followed up the biggest win of his career with a near-scare in outpointing Venezuela’s Edixon Perez (19-5, 14KOs) over 10 rounds. Scores were 97-93 and 96-92 (twice) for Baez, who was forced to overcome an opening round knockdown when a right hand put him on the canvas, in order to prevail.
The win comes two months after Baez scored a decision win over previously unbeaten Alberto Melian in a major upset this past July in Indio, Calif.
Both the main event and chief support streamed live on Golden Boy’s official Facebook page.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox