Joal Diaz Jr. vows to look like a changed fighter against Gesta

Joel Diaz, Jr. has learned to stay in shape year-round.

In the case of the 135-pounder, it was trial and error.

“Back in the day, training camp would be pretty much a weight loss journey instead of a training journey. Instead of working on my fundamentals, we were pretty much at training camp to lose weight," Diaz explained. "But [after] linking up with Sam Contreras, it's different. He wants me at a certain weight before camp and he wants me at a certain weight before we start sparring. It's good. That gets me an opportunity to actually focus on what needs to be focused on instead of focusing on dropping weight."

Diaz faces former lightweight title challenger Mercito Gesta this evening in a 10-round bout at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

At Thursday’s weigh-in, Diaz tipped the scales at 134.6 pounds and Gesta came in at 134.8.

Diaz (26-2, 22 knockouts), of Palmdale, California last fought on August 20, scoring a second-round knockout of Francisco Gabriel Pina. The victory was his second straight and his second consecutive knockout following a shocking third-round knockout loss to journeyman Cristian Rafael Coria in February 2019.

After briefly considering retirement, Diaz is focused on learning from his mistakes.

"It was [a challenging time]," said Diaz, who also works with strength and conditioning coach Sam Cheka. "[Retirement] slid through my mind a couple of times after that second loss [to Coria]. I was gonna hang them up, you know? I started going to school to get into the fire academy. While I was there, that's where I linked up with Sam Contreras, and we started working together.

"He saw that I'm really dedicated. We're giving this one last shot and hopefully we make some noise."

A win over Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs) would be the most significant of his career, although the San Diego-based Filipino hasn't fought in 17 months. A world title shot is likely a long shot even with a win, but Diaz is willing to climb the ladder again to prove his worth to the fans.

"Training camp has been going great. You guys will see a different Joel Diaz Jr. in there. I'm going to take my time in there. If the knockout is there, it's going to be there. If it's not, we're prepared to go the full [10-round] distance.

"I've always looked for the knockout. I should have just started taking my time. Now I'm doing that. If the knockout is there, it's there."

When asked if ring rust could play against Gesta, Diaz revealed that it ultimately depends on the fighter. Therefore, he refuses to underestimate his opponent.

"I personally think it's mental. If you stayed in the gym, then there should be no ring rust. If you do have ring rust, that's pretty much on you. We're ready for whatever he brings to the table. If there's ring rust, then there's ring rust. If he gives us 110 percent, we're ready to give him 120 percent."

Share this story

must see