Following the retirement of Miguel Cotto at the tail of last year, soaring Super-Feather Christopher Diaz shall be seeking to assume the role of standard bearer for Puerto Rican pugilism as the sport edges towards the 2020s.

Since debuting as a teen in September 2013, the stocky 5ft 6in ‘Pitufo’ (Smurf!) has compiled an impeccable 23 fight slate and, despite his youth and credible competition, 15 victims have been extinguished early, with six suffering the dreaded full ‘10’ count.

While the aggressive, all-action fan favourite carries sleeping pills in both fists, a sizzling, scudding left hook has served as his preferred weapon of mass destruction. ‘That left hook is going to take me to millions!’ he told Ring Magazine, earlier this year.

This Saturday (28th) BoxNation subscribers can scrutinise the Rican wrecker’s superstar potential when he debuts at world level against Samurai warlord Masayuki Ito (23-1-1) for the vacant WBO bauble at the Kissimmee Civic Center in Florida.

A fire has raged within powerhouse ‘Pitufo’ after his father, an ex-amateur, was tragically killed in a road accident when he was just eight. Further heartache followed in September 2017, when the Diaz family home and all worldly goods were ravaged by Hurricane Maria. Today, he is consumed by ripping up a storm through the 130lb division to deliver a fruitful future for his wife and two-year-old daughter.

Diaz v Ito

Born in Philadelphia, USA but returning to his heritage home of Barranquitas on the idyllic Caribbean isle just one month after, bilingual Diaz, the middle of three brothers, first stuck the gloves on, aged eight. A useful 108-29 amateur stint enticed Bob Arum to recruit him to the powerful Top Rank roster, when he was still 18.

Starting out at Super-Bantam and alternating between his home isle and PR strongholds on the US mainland, Diaz caught attention by rampaging to 15 wins in his maiden 29 months. In 2016, a hat-trick of impressive eight round points wins over Ray Ximinez (13-0), ex Carl Frampton victim Raul Hirales and one-time WBA Bantam challenger Fernando Vargas saw him honoured as the ESPN Deportes Prospect of the Year.

However, the 23-year-old is still to advance beyond that distance as he enters World Championship class this weekend. Last December, he was matched over 10 against Bryant Cruz before a large Puerto Rican contingent at Madison Square Garden’s Theater but hooked the 18-2 New Yorker to the canvas four times en route to a third-round demolition.

Diaz flag

Three months later, at the same location and over the same scheduled duration, he destroyed Dominican Braulio Rodriguez in four to assume his current status as the WBO mandatory contender for the belt relinquished by Vasyl Lomachenko.

The hammer-hooking hombre enters his World Title gig with the distraction of a legal dispute with ex-manager Ricky Marquez who he jilted last spring. Presently he is preparing at the New Jersey Guts and Glory gym of Raul ‘Chino’ Rivas who trained him briefly as an amateur.

In house sparring with world grade 130lb talents Jason Sosa and Tevin Farmer should have him perfectly primed to deliver a performance worthy of the island’s fabled fistic forefathers such as Carlos Ortiz, Wilfred Benitez, Wilfredo Gomez, Felix Trinidad and Cotto.

Buy BoxNation to watch Christopher Diaz v Masayuki Ito on July 28th.