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Christopher Diaz hopes to be next Puerto Rican champion

Undefeated Puerto Rican contender Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz hopes that he can add his name to the lineage of great Puerto Rican boxers from the ‘Island of Enchantment’.

Diaz will fight Japanese veteran Masayuki Ito for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior lightweight title on July 28 at the Kissimmee Civic Center, this Saturday. That being said, like all title fights, this isn’t a cake walk. Diaz at his best is a violent puncher and at his worst is a brawler, who can find his feet stuck in the mud. Ito has a good right hand and a knockout streak, that could shatter Diaz’s dream.
“I am prepared for my first chance to win a world title because I’ve been through many years of sacrifices, and I have waited all my life for this moment. Now the moment is here. I’m hungry and focused. On July 28, Puerto Rico will have a new world champion.” Diaz said.

Diaz won the vacant NABO junior lightweight title last December with a third-round knockout of Bryant Cruz, knocking Cruz down five times en route to the stoppage, the bout pole vaulted Diaz over Andy Vences and Erick De Leon as the #1 contender in the division seemingly from such a violent performance. Diaz returned once again, March 17 on the Jose Ramirez-Amir Imam undercard at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden as he defeated an awkward Braulio Rodriguez via fourth-round TKO. The win was what Diaz wanted, but at the same time saw Diaz getting outboxed in spots, often.

As Diaz, a proud Puerto Rican looking to bring a title to his country, not unlike fellow countryman Alberto Machado, who fought on HBO last week, Diaz seems to be fighting for his country and people
“I have a tough fight against Masayuki Ito, but I am very focused. I know I have all of Puerto Rico in my corner,” Diaz said.

Ito (23-1-1, 12 KOs), from Tokyo, is the WBO’s No. 2 junior lightweight contender. He has won seven consecutive bouts since the lone defeat of his career, a 10-round majority decision to then-undefeated Rikki Naito in February 2015. Ito, who has fought all of his professional bouts in Japan, has won four of his past five bouts via knockout, including a ninth-round stoppage of Lorenzo Villanueva in April of last year.

Ito has improved and is incredibly durable as he is an accumulation puncher, who forgoes accuracy for quantity.

While most fight fans might tune into the more marquee fight of Mikey Garcia vs. Robert Easter Jr., Diaz vs. Ito might be the more competitive bout, that could create a future contender in one of the most packed divisions in boxing.

Diaz vs. Ito is promoted by Top Rank Inc. and will take place at 6:30 PM EST/ 3:30 PM PST on ESPN+

Photo: Lukie Ketelle
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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle