Joseph Diaz Jr. outpoints Javier Fortuna in lightweight debut

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Joseph Diaz Jr. proved in convincing fashion that he belongs at 135 pounds.

Diaz, who agreed to fight Javier Fortuna on short notice, defeated his Dominican counterpart by a unanimous decision to win the WBC “interim” lightweight title on the Gilberto Ramirez-Sullivan Barrera card Friday in Los Angeles.

Fortuna (36-3-1, 25 KOs) was scheduled to fight Ryan Garcia but Garcia pulled out to tend to his mental health. That opened the door for Diaz, who had never fought as a full-fledged 135-pounder.

The former 130-pound titleholder proved on Friday that he could handle the physical rigors of the division, taking the fight to a longtime lightweight.

Fortuna was the busier boxer much of the fight but it was Diaz who was the more accurate puncher and he landed the bigger, cleaner shots to both the head and body, which obviously impressed the judges.

Diaz had to overcome a few obstacles, a cut about his left eye in Round 3 and losing a point for punching behind the head in Round 4. However, that made no difference in the end.

The judges scored it 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112, all in favor of Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs).

Fortuna threw more punches than Diaz (761-521) but Diaz landed more (203-193), according to CompuBox.

The victory makes Diaz a major player in the lightweight division, which is ruled by undisputed champion Teofimo Lopez. Devin Haney and Gervonta Davis hold secondary titles.

Diaz made it clear that he’s prepared to face them or Garcia, who is expected to return to the ring soon.

Said Diaz after his victory: “Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, let’s make this s— happen. I’m ready.”

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