Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz proved that there is such a thing as a good loss.
It came earlier this month for the former IBF junior lightweight titlist, who was valiant in defeat in a twelve-round, unanimous decision in favor of Devin Haney (27-0, 15KOs). Both fighters had their moments, only for Diaz (32-2-1, 15KOs) to come up just short in the end of their WBC lightweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Haney registered the fourth defense of his title, though in easily his stiffest test over the course of his two-plus year title reign. As for Diaz, it was the end of a seven-fight unbeaten streak but merely the latest step in his run of tough fights.
“I want to—until the end of my career—continue to face the best fighters,” Diaz told BoxingScene.com and other reporters. “I want to inspire these fighters, too, let them know that it doesn’t matter if you take a loss if you put on a great performance.
“That’s what the fight fans want to see. The fans don’t want to see these baloney fights. They want to see fun, entertaining fights. The elite fighting the elite and that’s what I want to do. I hope everyone else tries to do that.”
Diaz has been doing it for much of his nine-year career immediately following his tour with the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team that competed in London. Saturday’s bout marked Diaz’s eighth versus a former or current titlist, in addition to a number of title challengers and top contenders. His lone defeat prior to this bout came in May 2018, when the now 29-year-old southpaw from South El Monte, California dropped a similarly competitive twelve-round, unanimous decision to WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr.
In the eight fights that have followed, four have come versus current or former titlists. Included among the lot is Diaz’s career-best win to date, a twelve-round, unanimous decision over Tevin Famer to claim the IBF junior lightweight belt last January in Miami Gardens.
Even with the loss to Haney, Diaz remains a perennial top ten contender. More importantly, he has maintained—if not enhanced—his reputation as an old-school type of fighter willing to take on all comers.
“I feel like this doesn’t define me,” insisted Diaz. “This is my career. I want to continue fighting the best. I’m the type of guy that if I lose, I’m gonna take my loss like a f-----’ champ. If I win, I’ll always just progress and get better.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox