Jojo Diaz 2015

Photo by Al Applerose

Jojo Diaz Finale for Year 2015 at Fantasy Springs Casino

By David A. Avila

Making the U.S. Olympic boxing team four years ago was an incredible feat for Jojo Diaz especially considering the thousands of young boxers participating nationwide.

It takes years of adapting a style, honing reflexes and meeting all challengers across the world.

But that was the amateur boxing world. Now the South El Monte prizefighter treads in the completely different universe of the professional boxing circuit. It’s all about entertainment and that’s a 180-degree difference from amateur boxing.

Diaz (18-0, 10 Kos) will test his burgeoning professional boxing tools against Mexico’s Hugo “Olimpico” Partida (20-6-2, 15 Kos) at Fantasy Springs Casino on Friday Dec. 18. The super bantamweight showdown will be televised on Estrella TV.

As an amateur Diaz was able to use his superior reflexes and agility to dart in and out with speedy combinations before the opponent could react. It was a clean formula that took him all the way to the London Olympic Games in 2012.

Pro boxing requires a different formula. Fans want to see action and that requires less darting in and out and more hitting, slipping punches and hitting some more. It’s a far more dangerous sport that can result in serious injuries. Also, there’s no head gear like amateur boxing.

Diaz has slowly erased those survival instincts to run from danger and adapted a more stay and fight philosophy that incites the crowd. It’s all about pleasing the fans in the pro boxing world.

It’s interesting to note that as a youngster Diaz was badgered by other kids.

“It’s the reason I started boxing,” Diaz, 23, says. “I was picked on and bullied.”

The always smiling Diaz became a mainstay at the South El Monte boxing gym and his superior quickness and speed showed in boxing tournaments. When he emerged as the representative for the US Olympic boxing team it was no surprise to Southern Californians. They had watched his progress for years.

“He’s always had a lot of talent,” said Ben Lira, a long-time boxing trainer at South El Monte.

At the Olympic Games, Diaz defeated Ukraine’s Pavlo Ishchenko but was defeated by Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez. It was a loss that puzzled many watching on television. But the amateur scoring system has puzzled Americans for decades.

Judges in pro boxing can be puzzling too on occasion, but that’s where aggression can reap huge benefits. Though Diaz is capable of fighting 12 rounds without getting hit, it’s more beneficial to engage at closer quarters. It helps the judges and pleases the fans.

At Diaz’s last fight he was able to nullify the attacks of the very rugged Ruben Tamayo. The fight at Fantasy Springs last October resulted in a clear cut victory that saw judges give him every round.

“He was a very awkward fighter,” said Diaz of Tamayo. “I was able to pick him apart.”

Diaz hopes to pick apart Partida too especially with the vacant NABF featherweight title as the prize.

“I’m fighting for the NABF title so this is the biggest fight so far,” said Diaz while preparing at South El Monte. “I want 2016 to be my breakout year and fight my way to a world title shot. I want to be the next big thing in my weight class.”

Doors open at 5 p.m. for more information call (800) 827-2946.