By Liam Brady
Posted: March 24, 2016
The co-main event for Andre Ward’s (28-0, 15 KOs) Light Heavyweight debut against Sullivan Barrera will match Joseph Diaz (19-0, 11 KOs) and Jayson Velez (23-1-1, 16 KOs) in a Featherweight fight.
The fight will also have a place on HBO’s broadcast, before turning attention to Ward’s first step in a new weight division.
An observation gained from this fight is Diaz having a considerable step up in competition by facing Velez. Irrespective of the fact that Velez is bouncing back from a defeat, he has acquired valuable experience, namely a split-draw against then-IBF Featherweight champion, Evgeny Gradovich in 2014.
Sizing both fighters up, Diaz has a recorded height of 5’ 6” with a 64” reach. Velez, however, has a 2½” height advantage, and a significant 6” reach advantage. Diaz fights southpaw, whereas Velez fights orthodox.
The logical assumption would be that Diaz has to breach the defense and reach of Velez, and fight on the inside to be the most effective. Velez, alternatively, would be most effective on the outside, where he can exploit his height and reach.
The fight is scheduled for 10 rounds. Jayson Velez has gone 10 rounds five times and 12 rounds once. Diaz on the other hand has also gone 10 rounds five times, but never 12 rounds.
Aside from the Gradovich fight, Diaz and Velez have similar levels of experience, making this a competitive fight for both boxers on paper.
As a consequence, a win over Velez, a world title challenger, would be an impressive accomplishment for the upcoming Diaz, before pushing towards a title shot in the future.
On the other hand, Velez can reinstate his significance as a Featherweight by defeating one of the division’s brightest prospects. This fight has productive outcomes, and interesting storylines, for both fighters.