By Ryan Burton
Oracle Arena, Oakland, California - 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph "Jo Jo" (20-0) took the next step in his progression to from prospect to contender by shining in his HBO debut. His opponent, Jayson Velez (23-2-1), was by far his biggest test but Diaz proved to be on a much higher level as he won an unanimous decision.
The Southern California felt out his opponent in the first round and boxed him from the outside while attacking his body. A fight broke in the second round as the Mexican-American and Puerto Rican traded power shots. While Diaz clearly got the best of the exchanges, a small cut opened up under his right eye. The fight would continue this way for most of the fight.
Diaz kept up his attack as he worked both the body and head on an almost equal basis, but in the eight he also suffered a cut on his right eyelid. Velez landed some flush shots of his own but he was consistently beaten to the punch and out-landed.
Velez tried to mount a rally and apply pressure in the late rounds but Diaz counter punching was very effective and took advantage of Velez's leaky defense.
To Velez's credit, he was able to take several flush shots on the chin and never went down. The final scores were 100-91, 99-91 an 98-92.
It will be interesting to see how fast Diaz's promoter Golden Boy pushes him in the featherweight division that has tough champions like Vasyl Lomachenko, Gary Russell Jr., Leo Santa Cruz and Lee Selby.
He seems destined for a shows won against fellow 2012 Olympian Oscar Valdez in a few years.
ON THE UNDERCARD
Light heavyweight Junior Younan (8-0) dominated Cristian Solorzano (3-8) over 4 rounds. The New Yorker was simply too talented for his overmatched opponent. The scores were 40-36 on all three cards.
Promising middleweight Rudy Puga Jr. (8-0), of nearby Salinas, Carlos Lozano (7-6). The heavy handed Puga began breaking his opponent down with multiple straight punches in the first round. Puga stepped up his output in the sixth round and pounded Lozano into submission, prompting the red to waive the fight off at the 2:13 mark.
Maurice "Mighty Mo" Hooker (20-0-2) had a successful Roc Nation debut with a quick knockout of Wilfredo Buelvas (17-6). The end came at the 2:27 mark of the opening stanza. Buelvas went down twice, the second time from a body shot and couldn't recover.
Local favorite Aaron Coley improved his record to 13-1-1 with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Urmat Ryskeldiev (11-4-2) in their middleweight bout. The final tallies were 60-54 and 58-56 twice.