By Miguel Maravilla at ringside
In a clash for the WBC interim lightweight title, Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr. (32-1-1, 15 KOs) moved up to 135lbs and won a twelve round unanimous decision over Javier Fortuna (36-3-1, 25 KOs) on Friday night at at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Scores were 117-110, 116-111, 115-112.
The two southpaws sized each other as they pawed with the lazy jab in round one, Diaz and Fortuna finished the round with a brief exchange with Fortuna connecting a straight left. Diaz stalked in round two as Fortuna showed flash. Things got rough in round three as Fortuna hit Diaz behind the head, referee Raul Caiz Jr issued s warning. Moments later a clash of heads opened a cut on Diaz’s left eye. In the fourth, Diaz was deducted a point for holding Fortuna’s head down as blood continued to trickle down Diaz’s eye. Díaz continued his attack.
Fortuna came out attacking in the fifth round as Díaz tied up but Diaz stalked and stood at close range attacking inside. In the sixth, Diaz stayed composed with his attack and did not panic despite the cut, Fortuna continued to be awkward. The 2012 U.S Olympian and former world champion Diaz seemed to set in past the halfway point in the seventh as Fortuna appeared to be tiring. Fighting inside in round eight, Diaz and Fortuna let their hands go and clinched as the fight appeared close.
It was an exchange on the inside in the ninth as Diaz pressed afterwards and had Fortuna backing up and staying away. Late in the fight in the tenth, Díaz landed a short right that staggered Fortuna as the local fighter Diaz attacked and had the crowd on their feet. In the championship rounds, Diaz continued to stay close attacking Fortuna. The final round saw Diaz and Fortuna not holding back as the fighters sensed the urgency but it was Diaz that got the better of it staggering Fortuna in the final minute.
“Javier Fortuna was a warrior,” said Diaz afterward. “I thought I would easily land body shots, but he’s a slick defensive fighter. He’s very talented. I wish him the best, and I hope he continues. When I saw the cut, I had hoped that it wasn’t as bad as the Tevin Farmer fight. It wasn’t, so I just dictated the pace from then on. I can fight all the big names, Ryan Garcia or Tevin Farmer!”