Joseph Diaz Jr took the first loss of his pro career on Saturday night, when he fell short in a challenge for the WBC featherweight title against Gary Russell Jr.
“This will just make me a hungrier fighter. I hope I got the respect of a lot of fight fans. I wanted to become champion against the best featherweight fighter in the world. Tonight wasn’t my night but I’m going to bounce back harder and I’ll be champion soon.”
Diaz (26-1, 14 KO) fought hard but was beaten by adjustments made by Russell over the course of the bout. That said, I thought he looked like someone plenty capable of winning a world title at some point — his body attack early in the fight was pretty effective, and with more experience he should be able to make his own mid-fight adjustments against tougher opposition in the future.
What do you think of Diaz right now? Did he establish himself as a real contender, or do you think he got as close as he’ll get?