Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. achieved a lifelong dream in January 2020, dominating Tevin Farmer to win by unanimous determination to develop into the IBF junior light-weight champion.
The win was the primary main title for the 2012 United States Olympian. Now, the sky is the restrict for Diaz as he heads into his first title protection on Saturday evening in opposition to Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov from the Fantasy Springs Resort On line casino in Indio, Calif. The cardboard might be seen completely in over 200 nations on DAZN.
Forward of the combat, Diaz spoke with DAZN Information about changing into a dad for the primary time, if being a father modified his view on boxing, if he is fearful about Rakhimov shall be on PEDs come combat evening and whether or not a victory makes him the highest canine at 130 kilos.
(Editor’s word: This interview has been edited for size and readability.)
DAZN Information: 2020 began so nice for you. An impressive efficiency in opposition to Tevin Farmer in Miami a few days earlier than the Tremendous Bowl to develop into a world champion for the primary time. Then COVID-19 strikes, and the world takes a flip for the worst. Do you nonetheless view 2020 a giant success since you turned a world champion, or do you are feeling like there was loads left to be desired?
Joseph Diaz Jr.: So far as my skilled boxing profession, I really feel like 2020 was an excellent 12 months as a result of I gained the world title. That was a dream come true. Ever since I used to be slightly child, I at all times needed to win a world title. I assumed after that I used to be going to combat at the least two extra occasions in 2020. However such as you stated, COVID hit, and every little thing began getting shut down. I nonetheless had an excellent 2020 as a result of, throughout that point, I used to be in a position to get my girlfriend pregnant and care for her and ensure that my child boy, Zenith, was extraordinarily wholesome. It was good taking a while for boxing as a result of I used to be in a position to dwell a standard life.
I used to be in a position to get pleasure from my meals. I made certain that my child was OK and made certain that my girlfriend was OK. Throughout all this time, I did not must stress about going to the health club, figuring out and having a coaching camp and never seeing my woman, and never taking her to her appointments and all that stuff. It was very useful for me. I really feel like 2020 was the most effective 12 months of my life as a result of my son was born, and simply seeing my son being born and seeing my girlfriend giving delivery was simply such a tremendous feeling, man. It was a sense that I by no means felt earlier than. I at all times needed a child born. I at all times needed a household, and for me to satisfy my dream woman and to have a child, it was only a blessing in disguise. I really feel like every little thing simply fell proper into place the place I used to be in a position to take a while off in my boxing profession. After my child was born, I ended up getting the combat date, and it began locking in once more.
DN: How did changing into a dad change your perspective in your boxing profession?
JD: It modified my perspective dramatically. Figuring out that I actually acquired to care for my well being and care for myself so in a while sooner or later, once I’m 40-50 years outdated, I am not slurring my phrases, not stuttering, being there for my child, and ensuring that my child is making the appropriate selections and the appropriate choices, and ensuring that my thoughts is correct. I really feel like I grew up loads in 2020 as a result of not solely do I acquired to care for myself extra, bodily and mentally, however I additionally acquired to care for myself and my household financially as effectively. This boxing sport is a really robust sport. You solely get a certain quantity of alternatives to make as a lot cash as you’ll be able to. Throughout this time, I really feel like I acquired to chunk down and do what I acquired to do to maximise the chance and maximize the potential that I do have in order that method my son may have a greater life in a while sooner or later. I am ensuring that I put some cash in his financial savings, ensuring that I am making my investments, and ensuring that I am doing issues in order that method I’ve an earnings after I retire from boxing in order that method my youngster will not ever battle or my household won’t ever battle. I believe now it is simply turning up that change and simply maturing extra as a human being, as a father, and as a grown man. Now that I’ve this child, I acquired to take full accountability and care for my household.
DN: The place do you assume your profession can be proper now when you did not lose that combat to Gary Russell Jr.?
JD: Boxing’s a f—ing robust sport man. I already had three alternatives to develop into a world champion the place I may combat Gary Russell Jr. Sadly, I did not win that combat. And it was already not going my method and increase my method within the rankings, the place I needed to be once more to combat for an additional world title. I combat Jesus Ross, and I did not make the load as a result of I wasn’t lower for 126 kilos anymore. I needed to transfer up in weight. I really feel like if I would not have gained the Tevin Farmer combat, I do not know the place I might be proper now, to be sincere.
I do not know if I might have individuals profiting from me, placing me on lowball playing cards, and never giving me the publicity that I nonetheless want figuring out that I’ve two losses. I am a gifted fighter. Simply because I misplaced these two, they are going put me behind the sidelines once more. Boxing is a troublesome sport. That is why I take my job very critically. For that method, I at all times ensure that I am getting alternatives to get on the market and to generate income financially for myself and my household.
DN: Based mostly on what you simply stated, do you are feeling like going into the Farmer combat you have been preventing in your future?
JD: Completely. Each single time I am preventing, that is what I am fascinated with. I am fascinated with my future. I am fascinated with if I lose this combat or if I do not look good, I am not going to get alternatives. I acquired to at all times impress. That is why each fighter needs to be considering, particularly those developing within the rankings. Each fighter needs to be considering that method as a result of in boxing, if haven’t any different backup or when you’re simply introduced up in boxing and the amateurs, and did not go to highschool and never specializing in having one thing to fall again on, then you definitely actually acquired to take this s—t critically. Boxing is a f—ing merciless sport. It should eat you alive. The individuals within the foxhole will eat you alive and do not make the most of you. So you bought to just remember to’re taking all accountability inside that coaching within the health club. That method, while you do combat, you’ll be able to have a look at Spectacular, you’ll be able to entertain, you might achieve followers, and you might achieve a promotional deal. You can additionally achieve greater fights and greater playing cards to generate cash for your self and your future.
DN: You have a look at Rakhimov, and he is good. You possibly can’t take nothing away from 15-Zero with 12 wins by knockout. However one thing you had stated in an interview I used to be listening to about him and alleged PED use going into his final combat. I do know testing is getting carried out within the lead-up. Are you involved in any respect although that he’ll be on one thing may come?
JD: I actually hope not. I actually hope that he would not do some s—t like that. As a result of both method, it doesn’t matter what he brings to the desk, even when he might be on steroids, cocaine, or something that evening, he is nonetheless not going to take that belt for me. I am effectively ready. I am able to go on the market and dethrone him. It doesn’t matter what he is bringing to the desk, even when he does attempt to are available in and cheat, I’ll go on the market and carry out at my finest, and I’ll be victorious. I’ve tried too laborious day in and day trip this entire camp, in my entire life, to be the place I must be and be the place I must be at the moment with the intention to achieve success. I am not going to let some man that is 15-Zero and never that skilled as an expert fighter come and dethrone me. I’ll go on the market and showcase my abilities and showcase to all people that I am the most effective out at 130 kilos.
DN: What does a victory imply for you, and does a win solidify your self as the highest man at 130?
JD: I believe a victory Saturday evening makes me the highest man at 130 kilos, little question. After I beat the most effective fighter in Tevin Farmer, I really feel I ought to already be named the most effective at 130 kilos. However I acquired to combat this man. He is a harmful opponent. He’ll be coming ahead. He is ranked extremely within the rankings. He is ranked within the prime ten. He is ranked primary by the IBF. This man ain’t no joke. It is not like I am preventing the man that’s not ranked in any respect and simply defending my title like that. Nah, man. I am preventing a very robust opponent that’s going to be dwell and hungry that evening. I believe victory on Saturday evening that I needs to be ranked one at 130 kilos. Little doubt.