Joseph Diaz Jr., (19-0, 11 KOs), who faces Jayson Velez Saturday, March 26 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA, is keenly aware of the import of the bout. His match with Velez will serve as a prelude to the main event featuring Andre Ward and Sullivan Barerra.
"I really want to make a statement this fight,” said Diaz yesterday at a media day gathering in Oakland. “I want to show the world that Joseph Diaz could be the next big thing in boxing, so I trained very hard to put on a great fight for the fight fans, be very aggressive and make it a war in there.
“I hope that Jayson Velez is one hundred ten percent ready because I want him to be at his best.”
Velez (23-1-1, 16 KOs) is by far the toughest opponent Diaz Jr. has faced in his young career. He’s a solid professional with one blemish on his record--suffered at the hands of Ronny Rios last year. Velez will have experience and height in his corner.
"I have seen Diaz’ fights,” Rios said at the media event. “We’ve sparred a couple of times. He’s got speed. He’s got a hunger. It’s going to be a great fight.”
The boyish Diaz Jr, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, has gradually worked his way up the rankings. The southpaw from South El Monte, CA., captured the NABF featherweight title by stopping Hugo Partida last December. His fight with Velez will also mark his debut on cable channel HBO. The pressure can be intense, but Diaz Jr. feels he’s focused.