Joseph Diaz can barely remember the last year-end holiday season spent outside of a training camp.
Preparation for a Feb. 13 junior lightweight title defense versus Shavkat Rakhimov will mark the fourth straight year where the South El Monte, California product was left to ring in the new year with a fight on the schedule. It proved well worth the sacrifice this time one year ago, when Diaz (31-1, 15KOs) went on to claim his first major title following a rousing 12-round decision win over exiting 130-pound beltholder Tevin Farmer last Super Bowl weekend in Miami.
“My last camp was during Christmas and during New Year’s as well. I’m kind of already used to celebrating the new year in training camp,” Diaz jokingly confessed to BoxingScene.com ahead of his first title defense, which will air live on DAZN from The Avalon in Hollywood, California. “I’m excited for it, though. It makes me happy knowing that I have a fight date and that I’m pushing towards what I want to accomplish.
“I’m taking care of this mandatory that I’m fighting here. I got my family here, my team, my girlfriend and baby. There’s nothing that I can complain about. Life is good right now.”
It’s the birth of his son which gives Diaz renewed purpose in the middle of an old routine. Zenith Joseph Diaz was born to the world last November, with the 2012 U.S. Olympian and defending titlist entering training camp soon thereafter.
“It’s a whole different way of thinking, knowing I’m responsible for raising another human being,” admits Diaz. “I’m very, very motivated and just excited just thinking about when he turns 21, when he graduates college. Just thinking about how he’s gonna have money in his account that he can invest and not have to worry.
“It’s more motivating. It’s motivating knowing that I’m not just here fighting for myself, I’m fighting for my family. I’m fighting for my newborn kid. It motivates me to go out there and train every single day at my best. It motivates me to give it my all. Boxing is my career. I want to capitalize on it. I’ve maximized my opportunities given to me. I’m in my prime, I’m at a point where I’ve reached the top and it’s bringing a lot of attention to me.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox