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Golden Boy Promotions prospect Joseph Diaz Jr. will fight for the N.A.B.F. title Friday night

Golden Boy Promotions prospect Joseph Diaz Jr. will fight for the N.A.B.F. title Friday night in California

Expert Sports Picks: Featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. is one of the fastest rising prospects in boxing with his blend of youth, aggression, skill and charisma. The likable 23-year old fighting out of Los Angeles will try to capture his first piece of boxing hardware when he faces Hugo Partida, 21-6, 16 KO’s, for the vacant N.A.B.F. featherweight title Friday night. Diaz, 18-0, 10 KO’s, has been dominant as a pro, losing only a handful of rounds until a close scrap against top-15 contender Rene Alvarado, 23-5, 16 KO’s, in July. Diaz managed to grind out a win on the judges scorecards but some ringside observers felt the fight could have gone either way. The truth about pugilism is that you usually learn 10x more from your tough fights than you do from your blowout wins.  I had a chance to sit down with the 2012 Olympian about Oscar De La Hoya’s influence, the Alvarado fight and his unique relationship with his father who is also his trainer.

Q: Boxing is a tough sport. When did you know boxing was for you?

A: I like the competition of boxing. It’s just you and another fighter. There is no one to blame but you if you lose. I got started with the Teamsters youth boxing program at a young age and went from there. My grandfather was also a boxer. 

Q: What boxers have influenced you? 

A: Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. Oscar because he is a local guy that came from nothing to become successful. Oscar is not only was successful inside the ring but also outside the ring as a businessman. That is a special thing and I really look up to him. Floyd Mayweather because of his unbelievable work ethic. Floyd has all the money in the world and still trains hard day in and day out. 

Q: Who are some of your stablemates that you have been sparring with lately?

A: I have done lots of sparring with W.B.A. champion Leo “The Lion” Santa Cruz, 31-0-1, 17 KO’s, in the past but for this camp we trained with some amateurs preparing for the Olympic trials. In California we have tons of local talent. I’m truly blessed to train in L.A. with so many great fighters. People think that the only gym in L.A. is Wild Card Boxing Club but their are lots of great gyms here.  

Q: You had a tough fight with Rene Alvarado this past July. What did you learn from that fight? 

A: It was a great experience where I really needed my heart and will to get the win. I took his shots and stayed on his chest throwing blows. Me and my dad have been working on getting in and out rather than just trading. I think against Alvarado I should have fought smarter. We also have been working on sitting down on my punches a little more.

Q: Would you rematch Alvarado? 

A: I would. If that’s what the fans want to see I definitely would. .I don’t think I was at my best against Alvarado and would train harder for a rematch. I think it would be a completely different fight in a rematch. 

Q: With over 120 amateur fights who was your toughest foe in the amateur ranks? 

A: Lazaro Alvarez from Cuba. He was real awkward, fought long and clinched alot. He beat me in the 2011 World Boxing Championships. 

Q: What are our best assets as a boxer?

A: My adaptability. I can box or be the aggressor. I also know how to make use of range and distance behind my jab. I can adjust to any opponent.

Q: What is your go to punch when you have your man hurt?

A: My favorite punch when I have a guy in trouble is my left uppercut to the body. I have always been taught to attack the body when my opponent is hurt. 

Q: What is your favorite Boxing movie?

A: I really liked Southpaw. I thought it had a great storyline and seemed very realistic. 

Q: What’s your favorite hobby away from Boxing? 

A: Me and my friends are part of a bowling team. We have games with plenty of gutterballs though (laughs). 

Q: Why do you think you have been able to make the the father-trainer relationship work when so many others have failed? 

A: Me and my dad have a great relationship. Whatever happens in the gym doesn’t affect us outside it. Me and my dad are strictly biz in he gym but it stays in the gym.

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