JoJo Diaz made sure he sent a message to Gary Russell, Jr. and the other featherweights in the division. Literally and figuratively.
Diaz made short work of Victor Terrazas, dropping him three times before ending matters at the end of the third round at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
It was all Diaz (26-0, 14 knockouts) from the opening bell, dominating the former world junior featherweight titleholder from the opening bell. The southpaw Diaz dropped Terrazas twice in the opening round, the first with a left hand to the stomach and the second was courtesy of a two-punch combination.
Terrazas (38-5-2, 21 KOs) held his own over the next two rounds, but with the way Diaz was sitting down on his punches, the end was almost inevitable.
Late in the third round, Diaz landed a lead left hand to the body dropping Terrazas to one knee. Terrazas winced in pain as referee Eddie Hernandez counted him out at 3:00.
"I knew I had the power so it was a matter of time before I was able to put my punches together and end the fight," said Diaz after the fight.
Thursday night was a stay-busy for Diaz, who is the number one contender for the WBC and WBO titles. There were reports of negotiations between Gary Russell, Jr., who owns the WBC title, and Diaz, who is the mandatory challenger.
After the fight, Diaz had a message for Russell.
"Come on, Gary. Stop hiding and let's make the fight," said Diaz, who is ranked number seven by RING Magazine.
Terrazas, who is from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, has one victory in his last five bouts.
In the opening bout of the ESPN2 telecast, highly-touted junior welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz stopped Jesus Alvarez in the third round.
The more-polished Ortiz (9-0, 9 KOs) broke down Alvarez from the opening bell. Ortiz, who is trained by Joel Diaz, dropped Alvarez when a right hand split the guard, dropping him to the canvas.
Alvarez (15-4, 11 KOs) did his best to hang with Ortiz, but he was not able to keep Ortiz off of him. Ortiz ended matters during the final minute of round three, when he pinned Alvarez on the ropes and let his hands go until referee Raul Caiz, Jr. stopped the bout at 2:23.
In a swing bout, veteran Rey Perez won an eight round unanimous decision over lightweight prospect Christian Gonzalez.
After Gonzalez (18-2, 15 KOs) won the opening round, Perez was the more effective fighter the rest of the way. Gonzalez's lack of lateral movement made it was easy for Perez to connect with several counter right hands and left hooks to the head.
Both had their moments during the final rounds of the fight, but Perez increased his punch output, connecting several more times and outboxing Gonzalez until the final bell.
Scores were 79-73, 79-73, and 78-74 for Perez (22-9, 6 KOs), who had lost five of his previous seven bouts. According to Punch Stats numbers, Perez landed 166 out of 651 total punches (26 percent), while Gonzalez connected on 151 of 479 total punches (31 percent).
Francisco A. Salazar has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing