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Ward vs Barrera: Joseph Diaz Jr talks HBO debut against Jayson Velez

Joseph Diaz Jr breaks down his fight against Jayson Velez this Saturday on HBO.

On making his HBO debut

"It's a dream come true. It's a true blessing. This is the opportunity I've waited for my entire life, to showcase my skills in front of millions of people, and especially on HBO. Since I was a little kid I always watched Roy Jones, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather fight on HBO, because that's the biggest network. Giving me the opportunity to fight and showcase my skills, it's a true blessing. I'm not going to let the opportunity down, I'm gonna take full advantage."

On any nerves before the fight

"The nerves are already kicking in. They've been kicking in since training camp started, since my manager told me I'd be fighting on HBO. But I've used that as motivation. It pushes me and drives me to keep on grinding harder, because I know I can't let this opportunity down, I gotta take full advantage of it. Every single day I think of it as an opportunity, I get goosebumps, but it makes me more motivated, makes me strive to do better and work harder."

On whether he obsesses over fights

"I tend not to think about it until the day, because I wouldn't get no sleep, man! I try to get my proper rest. I try not to think about it too much. I know my opponent is tough and very durable. I've just gotta get my proper rest, my proper training, my proper eating, focus on it and worry about it once it happens."

On his conditioning

"I'm maturing, and I also had a full eight weeks with my strength and conditioning coach. We focused on my legs, my arms, getting it right, making sure my legs are solid, my arms are solid, making sure I had the right speed, the right power, and making sure I eat the right foods. My father's been cooking at home for me. Making me eat the right proteins and the right carbs at the right times. I haven't been cheating at all, because I know that this is the biggest opportunity. All the junk food can wait until after my fight. I love it, dude! I gotta hit the beach right before I starting getting fat again. I do feel good. I feel nice and strong. I can tell the difference in my sparring sessions, whenever I land effective shots, body shots, I can tell I'm hurting my opponents. I'm making sure I'm sitting down on them a lot more. It's gonna show on March 26."

On Jayson Velez's experience

"I have a lot of experience, as well. I don't have as much as he does as a pro, but in the amateurs, I gained a lot of experience fighting internationally. Getting all that experience fighting in different countries, I feel like I have all the experience in the world. I personally think I have more experience than him. A lot of people don't think so, because he has a lot more fights in the pros, but I've seen a lot of different techniques and styles already. Nothing's gonna make me go, 'Oh, crap, this is a different style,' and make me change my game plan. I feel like I'm gonna be able to adapt to whatever he brings to the table. He is a tall, durable fighter. He's very strong. He's very long, too. I believe he has six inches reach advantage over me, but me and my father, we're coming up with a good game plan, making sure we're cutting off the ring, landing effective shots, and if the opportunity comes to get him out of there, we're gonna take full advantage. If not, we're ready to go the 10 rounds."

On the style matchup with Velez

"It's kinda harder, because they're longer. They're trying to keep you at distance, so I feel like you gotta bait them in more. You gotta let them initiate and make sure you're baiting them in. But I've always been the smaller guy. In the amateurs, I was such a small guy, but I was always husky and fat, so I always fought taller opponents. It's nothing new. I feel like I'm gonna be able to adapt right away."

On fighting as a smaller guy and wanting to bully opponents

"Size doesn't matter, man. I feel like if I'm the smaller guy, I'm still gonna show them my strength and that I'm able to fight, that I'm gonna bring it to you. It makes me work harder, too, because I know I'm always going to be fighting taller opposition. It makes me want to train harder and focus on cutting off the ring, that my legs are 100% ready, that I can cut off the ring and get inside."

On what he expects from Velez

"I can't go by the videos from previous fights. I feel like he's probably watching my fights too, and he'll come with a different game plan. I gotta test him out the first couple rounds and see what he brings to the table. If he wants to exchange with me, come and be aggressive, we'll be ready for that. If he does want to keep me out of range, we're gonna be able to get to him and land effective shots."

On what fans should expect from Diaz

"I want them to come away saying, 'Wow, Joseph Diaz is gonna be the next big thing in boxing.' I really wanna make a statement in this fight. ... This fight's something else. I really wanna make a statement this fight, I wanna make sure everyone in the 126-pound division knows who I am in this fight. I'm gonna put on a great show. I know Jayson Velez is 110% ready as well. There's a lot at stake for both of us. He's a contender, but he lost his last fight, so he has to bounce back to get into a world title spot again, you know? With me, I'm an up and coming prospect, so I gotta show everybody who I am. I feel like there's a lot at stake for both of us, there's gonna be a lot of fireworks in this fight, there's gonna be a war."

"I wanna make sure I hurt this guy. I wanna make sure he's feeling all my shots through the 10 rounds, if we do go 10 rounds. I'm ready to showcase that I do have a lot of power at 126, that I'm fast and elusive, that I'm gonna take the victory."