SAN ANTONIO – Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz was approaching the two-year anniversary of his last win.
That milestone is no longer in place after a dominant showing by the former IBF junior lightweight titlist, who outmuscled Jerry Perez over ten rounds. Judges Gregorio Alvarez (97-93), Ignacio Robles (97-93) and Raul Caiz (98-92) all scored for Diaz in their all-California junior welterweight bout Saturday evening on DAZN from AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Diaz used the opening round to feel out the more active Perez before truly letting his hands go in round two. The 30-year-old southpaw went left hand heavy to impose his will. Perez was caught adjusting his footing when Diaz ripped a left uppercut to rock his unsuspecting foe. Diaz continued on the attack and hurt Perez at several points during the round as he connected on an astonishing 66.7 percent of his 60 power punches to that point.
Action briefly slowed before Diaz dialed up the pressure in the final minute of round three. Perez was lulled to the ropes, where he was tagged with left hands by Diaz who later scored with right hooks to the body. Perez attempted a right hand upstairs which was blocked just before the bell.
Diaz drew a rise out of the sparse but passionate crowd after he landed a left hand to rock Perez in round five. Perez showed grit and even some wrestling skills as he dodged a left hand in the corner before using his shoulder to physically lift Diaz off the canvas.
Perez used more movement to create space in round six. It worked to a point, but he failed to land anything to earn Diaz’s respect. Diaz closed the gap and cornered Perez late in the frame where he was able to land with straight left hands along with right hooks to the body.
A more competitive round seven saw Perez enjoy brief moments of success. Diaz fought in spurts but was still able to land by far the more telling blows, including a looping left hand and right hook.
Perez (14-3-1, 11KOs) offered a more assertive approach in rounds eight and nine. He was still outgunned by the more physically imposing Diaz but threw his right hand with more conviction than in preceding rounds.
Diaz won for the first time in two years—almost to the day—as his record improved to 33-4-1 (15KOs). His run following his January 2020 IBF title win over Tevin Farmer saw Diaz endure a draw, a win over Javier Fortuna and three consecutive defeats.
Losses to unbeaten lightweight champion Devin Haney and rising contender William Zepeda were forgivable. Concern was raised after Diaz dropped a crazily-scored split decision to Mercito Gesta on March 19 in Long Beach, California. Golden Boy Promotions—who has promoted Diaz throughout his eleven-year pro career—not only refused to give up on the 30-year-old but even re-signed him earlier this spring.
Headlining the show, Austin’s Floyd Schofield (14-0, 11KOs) will face Haskell Lydell Rhodes (28-4-1, 13KOs) in a scheduled ten-round lightweight contest.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox