Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz was eagerly anticipating an all-California showdown with Ryan Garcia.
There could once again come a day when he can look forward to such a fight, though it will have to come with far greater assurances.
“I really can’t rely on Ryan Garcia,” Diaz admitted when asked about ever revisiting such plans during a Zoom conference call to otherwise discuss his challenge of WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney. “He’s really shown in the past… he’s pulled out (of fights) multiple times. He’s not reliable. We trusted in him, we finalized it and thought the fight was going to be made. Then he came up with this injury.”
Diaz (32-1-1, 15KOs), of South El Monte, was initially due to face Victorville, California’s Garcia (21-0, 18KOs) on November 27 in the greater Los Angeles area. The highly anticipated lightweight bout never saw the light of day, with Garcia suffering a hand and wrist injury requiring immediate surgery before the event even had a chance to gain momentum.
Eager to remain active, Diaz—a former IBF junior lightweight titlist—agreed to push back his plans by a week as he accepted an opportunity to challenge for the lightweight title. Haney (26-0, 15KOs) was already on board, with the pair of top lightweights set to collide December 4 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Haney’s hometown of Las Vegas.
A win not only leaves Diaz as a two-division titlist, but in position to essentially name his own assignment. The 29-year-old southpaw—who represented the United States in the 2012 London Olympics—knows not to look past Haney and December 4. Once he is ready to focus on the future, however, it’s possible that the idea of a fight with Garcia is one that might wind up left in the past.
“If things make sense and we see that Ryan Garcia is not playing these games anymore and is really committed to the sport of boxing, then maybe we’ll take on the challenge,” notes Diaz. “I don’t know if I would be willing to take the time to accept the fight and then have to go through this process and then him pulling out again. I’d have to talk to my team, I’d have to talk to Golden Boy and MTK and just see what the best fight is for myself.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox