“Jo Jo” Diaz Puts the Lightweight Division on Alert With a Hard-Fought Win Over Javier Fortuna
A high-stakes lightweight battle takes place between two former super featherweight world champions. Javier Fortuna takes on Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz in a twelve-round contest at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California.
Fortuna spent the bulk of his career at 130 pounds. In May of 2015, he defeated Bryan Vazquez to capture the vacant WBA “Regular” super featherweight title. Following one defense of the title, he lost the title by an eleventh-round TKO to Jason Sosa in May of 2016.
After what was considered an upset defeat, he moved up to 135 pounds and secured a shot against then-IBF World lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr in January of 2018. Losing by split decision, Fortuna’s performance was marred by a failure to make weight during the pre-fight weigh-in. Now ranked third by the WBC at lightweight, the native of the Dominican Republic is on the cusp of yet another world title shot.
He faces a Diaz who has some question marks. The fighter from South El Monte, California rose to prominence at featherweight. There, he landed a shot against current WBC 126 pound champion Gary Russell Jr in May 2018. Despite a gallant effort, he lost by unanimous decision.
Moving up to the super featherweight division, Jo Jo received a second world title try against then IBF champion Tevin Farmer in January of 2020. This time, the Californian didn’t let the opportunity slip through his fingers. He out-worked and out-fought Farmer to become a major champion for the first time in his career.
That career-best performance was followed by head-shaking disappointment. In what was to be the first defense of the IBF title against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, Diaz lost the title by coming in overweight during the pre-fight weigh-in. What followed was a lackluster effort in a twelve-round, majority decision draw
He’s ranked fourth by the WBC at 135 pounds. However, this match against Fortuna is really about restoring his reputation that was sullied during the fight against Rakhimov.
NIP AND TUCK
This was a battle of southpaws who tend to be economical with their punches. Those are usually the ingredients for a boring fight. It wasn’t the case this time. Both men fought primarily in the center of the ring letting the punches go.
Two dramatic instances defined the early action. First was a clash of heads which caused a cut over the right eye of Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs) in round three. Second was a point taken away from Diaz due to a punch to the back of Fortuna’s (36-3-1, 25 KOs) head in the fourth.
Over the middle rounds, it became a question of whose style did you like. Were you a fan of the aggression of Joseph Diaz, or the skill and elusiveness of Javier Fortuna?
Ultimately, it was Joseph Diaz who fought with more passion and vigor. Despite this being his first fight at lightweight, Jo Jo was the stronger man during the late rounds. He did a better job of closing the show. That extra effort proved to be the difference as Diaz was victorious by unanimous decision (117-110, 116-111, 115-112) to win the WBC “Interim” World lightweight title. Afterward, He said wants to fight top contender Ryan Garcia and WBC world lightweight champion, Devin Haney.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.