Diaz defeats Fortuna for interim WBC title »July 10, 2021


Photo: Sye Williams / Golden Boy

By Miguel Maravilla at the edge of the ring

In an interim WBC lightweight title clash, Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr. (32-1-1, 15 KOs) rose to 135 pounds and won a twelve-round unanimous decision over Javier Fortuna (36- 3-1, 25 KOs) Friday night at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. The scores were 117-110, 116-111, 115-112.

The two lefties measured each other as they slapped each other with the lazy jab in the first round, Diaz and Fortuna ended the round with a brief exchange with Fortuna connecting a straight to the left. Diaz stalked in the second round as Fortuna showed a flash. Things got complicated in the third round when Fortuna hit Diaz in the back of the head, referee Raul Caiz Jr issued a warning. Moments later, a clash of heads opened a cut on Diaz’s left eye. In the fourth, Diaz had a point taken away for holding Fortuna’s head down as blood continued to flow down Diaz’s eye. Díaz continued his attack.

Fortuna came out attacking in the fifth round as Díaz buckled in, but Diaz stalked and stood at close range attacking inside. In the sixth Diaz remained calm with his attack and didn’t panic despite the cut, Fortuna continued to be clumsy. 2012 US Olympian and former world champion Diaz appeared to have passed halfway in seventh as Fortuna looked tiring. Fighting on the inside in the eighth round, Diaz and Fortuna let go of their hands and clinched as the fight seemed close.

It was an inside trade in the ninth as Diaz pressed afterward and Fortuna backed up and stayed away. Late in the fight in the tenth, Díaz landed a short right that staggered Fortuna as local fighter Diaz attacked and got the crowd on his feet. In the championship heats, Diaz continued to stay close by attacking Fortuna. The final round saw Diaz and Fortuna not holding back as the fighters sensed the urgency, but it was Diaz who got the better of Fortuna’s stunner in the last minute.

“Javier Fortuna was a warrior,” Diaz said afterwards. “I thought I would pull off body punches easily, but he’s a skillful defensive fighter. He is very talented. I wish him the best and I hope he will continue. When I saw the cut, I had hoped it wasn’t as bad as Tevin Farmer’s fight. It wasn’t, so I just dictated the pace from there. I can fight all the big names, Ryan Garcia or Tevin Farmer!

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