Oscar Duarte is now training with Robert Garcia.

Duarte faces former 2012 U.S. Olympian and former world IBF junior lightweight world champion Joseph Diaz on Saturday, April 27, at the SaveMart Center in Fresno, Calif.

Duarte (26-2-1, 21 KOs) is coming off a knockout loss to Ryan Garcia in December. Diaz (33-5-1, 15 KOs) is coming off a disappointing split-decision loss to Jesus Perez in February, so both fighters need a win and Duarte made a change to work with Robert Garcia in Riverside, Calif.

“Duarte is a very dedicated person,” Garcia told BoxingScene. “He is very strong – one of the strongest fighters I have ever worked with.”

With the first training camp behind them, Garcia sees the bout as one that shouldn’t be missed with both fighters in danger of relegation with a loss amid the fear of becoming a stepping stone and having to take harder fights against younger fighters. 

“It is going to be an interesting fight,” explained Garcia. “I like JoJo, JoJo is a friend of mine. I have known JoJo since his amateur career.”

A lot of eyes will be on local favorite Jose Ramirez against former world champion Rances Barthelemy. Some might be watching for Vergil Ortiz against Thomas Dulorme and if Ortiz wins, as expected, it will set the stage for an August 3 fight against Tim Tszyu. 

The feeling in Fresno to the host of yesterday’s press conference, Beto Duran, was that Duarte-Diaz is a compelling 50-50 fight that has significant implications for their futures.

“They are going to put up a great fight, probably the fight of the night,” said Duran.

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