By James Blears
Styles make great fight nights and this one on Saturday December 4th at the MGM Garden Arena, between undefeated WBC lightweight champion Devin “The Dream” Haney (26-0, 15) and Interim lightweight Champion Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KO`s) has all the makings and markings to be absolutely riveting!
Devin aged just twenty three, is a prodigiously smart, intelligent, silky, gifted multi- talented fighter. He has the ability to box elegantly and use his natural abilities to their very fullest. While stocky southpaw Jo Jo aged twenty eight is at his peak. A determined, swarming, high tempo fighter, who never gives up, no matter what the obstacles or adversity. He just bites down on his mouth-guard and he perseveres!
At his best when surging forward at close range, Jo Jo`s punch output is phenomenal and his defensive skills, as he wades in throwing all the leather cascade he can muster to cause a lather, is deceptively effective.
Devin who`s best at medium range, can and does draw upon a clear deep pool reservoir of resources and a diverse repertoire of dividends plus reserves, fully utilizing every punch. So far, he`s more than lived up to his nickname.
Both have already had to shoulder and overcome adversity to be a cut above. An accidental clash of heads in the second round of his fight against fellow southpaw Tevin Farmer very badly gashed Jo Jo on the left brow. That divot was wide and deep.
A lessor fighter might have panicked at its alarming severity and such a setback, but Jo Jo remained calm, focused and never wavered. He fought on magnificently, applying more and more pressure, especially via a constant digging body attack, to win by an impressive UD and with it the IBF super featherweight title.
Then a surprisingly lack luster fight and majority draw against Shavkat Rakhimov in which he was stripped of the title, for coming in 3.6 pounds over the weight. He more than made up for this, returning to winning ways against southpaw Javier Fortuna with a convincing UD. But, oh dear and déjà vu, as he was again cut over that left eye, this time in the third round from another clash of heads. Jo Jo tenaciously fought on to win the Interim WBC lightweight title. He was to defend it against Ryan Garcia, who had to postpone due to hand injury, which has required surgery. So here`s Jo Jo`s chance to become a two division champion, and his challenge comes against a very accomplished boxer.
Devin`s only setback yet not defeat, was nevertheless a painfully significant one. After having being promoted to Absolute WBC Champion, when Vasiliy Lomachenko had become Franchise Champion, in his first title defense against also undefeated Alfredo Santiago, Devin won by UD 120-107 thrice. He knocked down Alfredo in the fifth, but in the seventh he dislocated his right shoulder. So he adroitly adapted, moving around and in spite of the injury severity, he won. Afterwards he underwent surgery.
His second defense was against former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa and it was another convincing UD. The most interesting test up to now, came most recently against former three weight division champion Jorge Linares. Devin fought much more aggressively and assertively that night. He dominated Jorge for much of the bout, but the veteran “Nino de Oro” who`s thirteen years older, didn`t buckle and was never overwhelmed. He put up a terrific battle, dishing out his own brand of smarting counter punching hooks.
A second or so before the end of the tenth round, swollen faced Jorge landed a fearsome left right combination. The right was particularly potent and wobbled Devin. His legs were rubbery, as he went back to his corner. A minute later he was back in action, using his boxing abilities for most of the last two rounds to box rather than slug. He`d passed the ordeal under fire test.
Jo Jo TKO`d Hugo Partida in two rounds to win the WBC/NABA vacant featherweight title earlier in his career and successful defended it seven times, before taking on Absolute Champion Gary Russell who defeated him by UD. It was a valuable learning curve, before he moved up in weight, which suits him better.
Devin has the height and reach advantages for this one. He`s five feet eight inches tall, with a long seventy one inch reach. While Jo Jo is five feet six inches tall with a sixty four inch reach. To be successful Devin must use these advantages to keep Jo Jo at bay with stiff jabs and then back it up with clusters of rapid fire combinations. To win, Jo Jo must cut that distance and apply non- stop pressure, trying to back up Devin, transforming it from a boxing match, into an all-out fight.
Devin and Jo Jo, have built their pro careers on bedrock foundations, stretching back to the amateur days. As an amateur Devin won seven national titles. In those amateur ranks he fought Ryan Garcia four times. Each came away with two wins. Devin turned pro aged seventeen in 2015 and became the youngest fighter to win a Youth World Championship.
Jo Jo was no slouch in the amateurs either! He was two times national bantamweight champion and the first US boxer to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. Previous to this, he was a quarter finalist in the 2011 World Championships. In that competition, he defeated 2004 Olympic silver medalist Worapoj Petchkoom and former World Championship bronze medalist Oscar Valdez. Jo Jo turned pro in 2012.
Flanked by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, during a lively yet even tempered presser at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, to promote this fight, Devin and Jo Jo were each adamantly confident about their abilities.
Devin declared: “I was born to fight. I learned a lot from my last fight. You can expect a ton of fight and explosion in this one. My skills pay the bills. His style is tailor made for me. Thank you for taking this fight and stepping up.”
Jo Jo, who promised Devin: “The ass whopping you really deserve,” insisted: “I`m always daring to be great, taking on the toughest challenges. I will rise to the occasion and show the World what kind of fighter I am on December 4th. Experience will be the key factor. Just be ready. I`m bringing it all to the table.”
Both of their dads will be in their corners for this one. Now, time for their sons to show just what they`re capable of and what they`re made of.
WORLD BOXING COUNCIL
WBC HONORARY POSTHUMOUS LIFETIME PRESIDENT (+)
Mauricio SulaimánWBC PRESIDENT WBC STATS WBC LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE CHAMPIONSHIP
MGM GRAND GARDEN ARENA LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, UNITED STATES
DECEMBER 4, 2021
THIS WILL BE THE WBC’S 2, 123 CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE FIGHT IN THE FIFTY-EIGHT YEAR HISTORY OF THE W
MATCHROOM BOXING & EDDIE HEARN, PRESENTS:
DATE OF BIRTH: NOVEMBRE 17, 1998
BIRTHPLACE SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
RESIDENCE: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
NICK NAME: THE DREAM
RECORD: 26-0-0, 15 ko’s
%KO’S: 57.7 %
TOTAL ROUNDS: 150
WORLD TITLE FIGHTS: 4 (4-0-0)
TRAINER: BILL HANEY
PROMOTER: MATCHROOM BOXING
WBC INTERIM CHAMPION
DATE OF BIRTH: NOVEMBER 23, 1992
BIRTHPLACE SOUHT EL MONTE, CALIFORNIA
RESIDENCE: DOWNEY, CALIFORNIA
NICK NAME: JO JO
RECORD: 32-1-1, 15 ko’s
TOTAL ROUNDS: 251
WORLD TITLE FIGHTS: 5 (3-1-1)
TRAINER: JOSEPH DIAZ SR.
PROMOTER: GOLDEN BOY PROMOTIONS
NAME PERIOD AS CHAMPION
FLOYD MAYWEATHER (US)
JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ (MEXICO)
ROBERTO DURAN (PANAMA)
CARLOS ORTIZ (P. RICO)
PERNELL WHITAKER (US)
ALEXIS ARGUELLO (NICARAGUA)
HECTOR CAMACHO (P. RICO)
ISMAEL LAGUNA (PANAMA)
ESTEBAN DE JESUS (P. RICO)
EDWIN ROSARIO (P. RICO)
41 WORLD CHAMPIONS RECOGNIZED BY THE WBC OF WHICH 7 HAVE REGAINED THEIR TITLE:
CARLOS ORTIZ (P. RICO)
ISMAEL LAGUNA (PANAMA)
MANDO RAMOS (US)
JOSE LUIS RAMIREZ (MEXICO)
STEVE JOHNSTON (US)
JOSE LUIS CASTILLO (MEXICO)
ANTONIO DeMARCO (MEXICO)
173 WORLD TITLE BOUTS HAVE BEEN HELD IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
THIS WILL BE THE 93rd FIGHT IN THE LIGHTWEIGHT DIVISION HAVE BEEN HELD IN UNITED STATES IN THE WBC HISTORY.
PUERTO RICO 12
DOMINICAN REP. 1
TOTAL FIGHTS 173
WBC TITLE BOUTS HELD IN THE NEVADA STATE
341 BOUTS HAVE BEEN HELD IN THE NEVADA STATE IN THE ENTIRE WBC HISTORY
THIS WILL BE THE 34th. WBC LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE BOUT CELEBRATED IN THE NEVADA STATE IN ALL WBC HISTORY.
44 WBC TITLE BOUTS IN THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION, THE HIGHEST OF ALL WBC HISTORY.
Lt. HEAVY 13*
Lt. FLY 10
TOTAL BOUTS 341
* IN THIS DIVISIONS IT WERE ON THE LINE 2 TITLES AT THE SAME BOUT