JoJo Diaz Jr. continues taking road less traveled

Just 2 American males in the last 7 Olympiads have actually handled to come house with a gold medal in boxing, and none considering that Andre Ward did it in Athens in 2004.

In spite of the absence of success members of U.S.A. Boxing have actually had in the Olympic Games for the last 3 years, there is still a cache that members of Group U.S.A. have when they go into the expert ranks.

And the outcome is that they frequently take the simple course in their more youthful years, fed a series of no-hopers in an effort to assist them develop their record.

Joseph Diaz Jr. belonged to the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing group, however when he turned professional, it wasn’t all that simple.

On his method up, he dealt with even more hard than typical competitors, and fulfilled future champs like Rene Alvarado and Andrew Cancio and title opposition Jayson Velez, to name a few.

His 30-1 record was not gotten by kicking tomato cans down the roadway, however rather by beating major competitors time in and time out.

Now, as he prepares to protect the IBF incredibly featherweight title he won from Tevin Farmer in 2015, all those hard bouts en route up have actually steeled him for the uphill struggle he’ll deal with as champ.

He combats the Freddie Roach-trained Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, DAZN) at the Dream Springs Resort in Indio, California, in what is anticipated to be a tough match. Diaz is a -250 preferred at BetMGM, while Rakhimov is +190.

“My career has been a very, very tough career,” Diaz stated. “I feel I don’t get the credit that I deserve as far as the recognition. I always let my work do the talking and it finally paid off in 2020 when I fought Tevin Farmer. I always wanted to become champion by fighting the best in the division. I challenged myself when I fought Gary Russell Jr. at 126 pounds. I ended up falling short, due to many reasons. That’s in the past, but that experience made me learn a lot from the outside looking in.

“Physically and mentally, it’s prepared me for where I’m at now. Luckily, I’ve been able to get another challenge against Tevin Farmer, who was the best in the division at that time, I felt. I ended up dethroning him and it’s been a great transition. My whole professional career, even my amateur background, made me the fighter I am today.”

[Watch Diaz-Rakhimov: Get DAZN and stream the fight live]

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 30:  Joseph Diaz celebrates after defeating Tevin Farmer in a unanimous decision to win the IBF 135 World Title at Meridian at Island Gardens on January 30, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Joseph Diaz commemorates after beating Tevin Farmer in a unanimous choice to win the IBF 135 World Title at Meridian at Island Gardens on Jan. 30, 2020 in Miami. (Image by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Diaz turned professional with a possibly unjust credibility as a soft puncher.

However when he battled Russell, who has perhaps the fastest hands in boxing, he felt he was the harder player. Russell won by ratings of 117-111 two times and 115-113 and mainly reduced the effects of Diaz’s offense.

Diaz didn’t let the loss go to waste. He changed as an outcome of that.

“I learned a lot from that fight, just knowing I’ve got to take risks in there,” Diaz stated. “I’ve got to go out there during that opportunity at that given time and risk it all. In boxing, you only have a limited amount of opportunities and you have to take advantage of everything. … At that time, I wasn’t ready for that. I wasn’t opening up as much as I should have.”

Opening versus Rakhimov will not come without dangers. Unlike Russell, who is a master fighter however very little of a puncher, Rakhimov can strike. He’s 15-0 with 12 knockouts and has actually ended up 8 of his battles in 4 rounds or less.

Diaz has a less than half knockout ratio, with 15 knockouts in 31 battles, and 30 wins, however it’s misleading due to the fact that he didn’t get a huge run of soft touches early.

Therefore the intrigue in the battle with Rakhimov is that while Diaz should appreciate his capability to punch, it’s not like Rakhimov can enter there careless and neglect Diaz’s power.

“I feel my record doesn’t show how strong I physically am,” Diaz stated. “I feel like I’m a very, very strong fighter. I’m a strong fighter to the body, and to the head. My record wasn’t padded. I fought very, very tough fighters. I fought undefeated fighters. I fought future world champions, ex-world champions, and these guys were experienced as well. They have chins and you’re not going to be able to knock everyone out. I feel my power is very, very underrated but it’s beneficial to me.”

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.