Months after nearly ruining one show, Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz has arrived to salvage another.
The former junior lightweight titlist has agreed to next face Dominican Republic’s Javier Fortuna on July 9 at a venue to be determined, two sources with knowledge of the situation informed BoxingScene.com. Diaz accepted the fight in place of unbeaten lightweight contender Ryan Garcia, who withdrew due to personal reasons.
Also on the show, Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (41-0, 27KOs) will make his Golden Boy Promotions debut. The former WBO super middleweight titlist—who now campaigns at light heavyweight—will face veteran contender Sullivan Barrera, with the fight having been in development for nearly two months.
The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger was the first to reveal the development, via social media.
Diaz (31-1-1, 15KOs) went on record in late April of his intentions to next face Fortuna (36-2-1, 25KOs) once the opportunity and date became available. The 2012 U.S. Olympian and former IBF junior lightweight has remained in the gym in the weeks following his latest fight, a 12-round draw with Tajikistan’s Shavkat Rakhimov in a fight that cost him the title one day prior after badly missing weight for their February 13 DAZN headliner.
The show moved forward, with Rakhimov accepting an undisclosed financial compensation package in agreeing to the new terms. Rakhimov was unable to claim the title that night, though will have a second shot when he faces Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa also in July on a separate show.
Meanwhile, Diaz will test the 135-pound waters against a dangerous foe.
Fortuna is a former junior lightweight titlist who has waited more than a year for a shot at the WBC lightweight strap, watching at least one title fight and two interim title bouts fall through all during and since the pandemic. The lone ring appearance for the Dominican southpaw in that time came last November, scoring a 6th round stoppage of Antonio Lozada last November, three months after plans for an August showdown with Jorge Linares fell through after the former three-division titlist tested positive for COVID-19.
Ramirez now has a new home for his first fight with Golden Boy, which was originally targeted for June. The Mexican southpaw—who turns 30 on June 19—was initially slated to appear on the Triller Fight Club Pay-Per-View featuring lineal lightweight champion and WBA/IBF/WBO titlist Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs), but was pulled to instead enhance the July 9 show.
Miami’s Barrera (22-3, 14KOs)—originally from Guantanamo, Cuba—has not fought since a 10-round points loss to Jesse Hart in their June 2019 crossroads bout.
A location has yet to be finalized for the event. The card was originally due to take place at a venue in the greater Los Angeles area when Garcia was due to headline. Such plans remain in discussion as this goes to publish.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox