It looks to me, I told Eric Gomez, the executive at Golden Boy, that your guy JoJo Diaz is maybe a 60-40 underdog.
It looks to me, on paper, that Gary Russell Junior’s hand speed is simply going to be too big of an edge for JoJo to get past.
“Okay, but I’m confident he’s ready for the challenge,” Gomez responded, speaking on the Gary Russell Jr. title defense against Californian JoJo Diaz tonight, which will unfold on Showtime.
I asked Gomez, what should we the fan be on the lookout for, to see if the 26-0 lefty Diaz can get the surprise W against the DC/Maryland fighter Russell, who owns a 28-1 (17 Kos) mark accumulated since he turned pro in 2009.
“It will be a tough fight, JoJo has matured. Forget hand speed, timing beats hand speed,” Gomez said, sagely.
The scrap will take place at the MGM facility in Maryland, and Russell’s WBC world featherweight title will be up for grabs.
It’s been a year since Russell fought for real; he downed Oscar Escandon last May, at the same venue.
Since then, he’s kept a low profile, with his name most often popping up when fans say, “Where has Gary Russell been?” or “Why doesn’t Gary Russell fight more often?” Good questions. Basically, it can be boiled down to, you gotta ask Gary Russell that, and then you can decide if his answers past muster.
”It’s a business. It’s definitely a business,” Russell said to Dan Rafael. “I’m not anxious (to fight more often). When it comes to earning potential, it’s definitely a business first before fighting. Whenever we do compete we’re going to make sure we maximize our coin because regardless of what our occupation is we want a sense of financial stability. And then a lot of these guys (in the featherweight division) aren’t really in a rush to get in the ring with Mr. Gary Russell Jr.”
Yeah, his stance isn’t going to win him popularity awards, but maybe he should get points for honesty. He’s being up front about how he sees this thing of ours. He’s not pretending that it’s about duty and honor and for pride and country. It’s about money. That might disappoint those of us who like to hear more high-minded reasoning than that, and find such a summation dreary in its directness. But at least he’s honest.
Russell Jr is an Al Haymon fighter, and I do think that when the Haymon “era” is dissected and analyzed in total, one of the most prominent essences of it will be that many of his fighters maximized their earnings while minimizing risk. Haymon fighters, unlike in previous eras and with just about any other top tier advisor, generally fought less than average, and made fine coin while doing that. Now, did that and does that maximize their exposure and profile and lead them, some of them, to attain the degree of celebrity and fan approval that they may crave? No. Will they be better of down the line neurologically? Quite probably.
Anyway…that inactivity could lead Diaz fans to hope rust is a factor. Do I expect that to be so, on the 29 year old? No. But Eric Gomez’ take must be respected, because timing and accuracy can indeed trump hand speed, which sometimes can be more sizzle than steak, more show than go.
Golden Boy matchmaker Roberto Diaz weighed in on the tango, as well. “Speed is difficult to defuse, but timing beats speed. And Diaz will be rough on inside,” Roberto told me, after I asked him how JoJo can fight to get the W.
Gomez predicts a “good fight,” and agreed with me that this lefty vs lefty mashup could be a good match stylistically, with neither guy being a runner or clincher, which should mean we should see both standing in the pocket ad looking to find spots to land.
What say you all, friends? Anyone foresee a Diaz upset win? Talk to me, in comments section.