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JoJo Diaz: Ryan Garcia doesn’t have the heart to get in with the big dogs at lightweight

JoJo Diaz wasn’t that impressed with Ryan Garcia on Saturday, and doesn’t think he wants to face top names.

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images and Sye Williams/Golden Boy/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Joseph Diaz Jr was in San Antonio last night to see Ryan Garcia’s win over Emmanuel Tagoe, and even chimed in with some analysis a couple of times during the bout.

To make that part brief, let’s say say Diaz wasn’t particularly impressed with Garcia (22-0, 18 KO) during or after his 12-round decision win over Tagoe (32-2, 15 KO).

Garcia and Diaz have a history already. The two Golden Boy fighters had their stories woven together in 2021, with Diaz replacing Garcia last July against Javier Fortuna after Garcia withdrew to deal with some mental health issues. After Diaz beat Fortuna, he and Garcia signed for a November bout. Garcia also pulled out of that date to get surgery on his hand.

Diaz (32-2-1, 15 KO) didn’t suffer too badly from that move, though, instead facing WBC titleholder Devin Haney on the same date. Haney won, but the 29-year-old Diaz, a former titleholder at 130, is still considered a viable contender at 135, and is planning to return to action in July.

Asked if he wanted to face Garcia, Diaz said he wouldn’t turn the fight down, but that he isn’t sure Garcia actually wants to face serious contenders.

“I’m the type of guy that will never dodge or duck anybody, and if Ryan Garcia wants to sign the contract, and I sign the contract, we can get it going,” Diaz said on DAZN after the fight. “But it’s gonna be hard for myself and big fighters and (big) dogs at the 135 lb division to get in the ring with a guy like Ryan Garcia. I feel like he don’t have that heart to be in there with the big dogs.”

Diaz, of course, is not the only one who thinks this, and Garcia will have to prove himself to a lot of people all over again. Tagoe was hand-picked for Garcia’s return from a 15-month absence, following a career-best win over Luke Campbell, and the rest of Garcia’s 2021 might have created more skeptics than he already had going into last year.

Garcia vs Diaz is, in theory, a pretty easy fight to make. Both are with Golden Boy, it’s a good matchup there should be some money in, and Diaz has proven he’s willing to do it. The doubts he holds right now are even more understandable from his perspective than being on the outside looking in, because he has direct experience dealing with Garcia.

That said, it’s also not really the fight people are clamoring to see Garcia take, either. That would be something more like Gervonta “Tank” Davis — whom Garcia declined to call out when asked by Chris Mannix, though he says he still wants the fight — or the George Kambosos Jr vs Devin Haney winner. I don’t think anyone would have a real problem with Garcia-Diaz being revisited this fall or whatever, but it probably isn’t (or won’t be seen as) priority number one.

Will Garcia fight Diaz next, or at least someone on that level, a real contender at 135?

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