Home Boxing News “I’ll never go back to 10 stone”

“I’ll never go back to 10 stone”

aNO FEAR: Diaz would gladly face Valero

IN 2010 Juan Diaz is looking to rectify the mistakes that have cost him three defeats in his last five fights. Losses to Nate Campbell, Juan Manuel Marquez and Paulie Malignaggi have seen the doubters come out in force and question whether his best days are behind him. A stark assessment given the fact he’s only 26.

“From now on I’m gonna let my manager do the managing and my trainer to the training”, he told me. “In the Campbell fight I blame myself because I wasn’t mentally prepared due to all the outside distractions with my promoter. My corner told me during the Marquez fight to slow down and box but I didn’t listen. I kept pressurising and made my own mistakes. And I should never have taken the second Malignaggi fight but pride got in the way because he got under my skin. I’ve been stubborn.”

After his refreshingly honest assessment Juan is in no doubt that he will continue his boxing career at lightweight. “I feel faster and stronger at lightweight,” he confirmed “There is no way I’m going back to light-welterweight because when I fought Malignaggi he was the bigger man and he’s always the smaller man in his fights!”

Boxing since the age of eight, Diaz achieved success at an early age. From winning the first tournament he entered at age 12 he kept on winning competitions until he was 16. Then an opportunity arose to represent Mexico at the 2000 Olympics.

“I had just beaten the guy who they were going to send to Sydney so they decided to give me a shot, but I was three months shy of my 17th birthday,” he recalled. “17 countries didn’t have a problem with my selection but the USA and Puerto Rico opposed it. I guess they didn’t want their guys [Ricardo Williams and Miguel Cotto] losing to a 16-year old.”

Undeterred by Olympic disappointment Diaz turned pro at 19 and was very much looking forward to his professional debut in Mexico. But things didn’t go exactly as planned.

“Although I was born in America my parents were Mexican so I thought I was going to be very popular,” he remembered. “As soon as the crowd found out I was American they started booing me and cheering on the other guy even though he didn’t have a very good record. Once they saw me fight they changed their minds and started cheering me. The crowd were loco.”

In his 24th professional fight Diaz achieved what he and his father had wanted from a tender age, to become world champion.

“When I fought Lakva Sim for the world title age was one of my biggest assets going into the fight,” he stated. “I was only 20 and I wasn’t interested in money or stardom. I just wanted to keep winning and win that title.” In doing so he became one of the youngest ever world champions alongside the likes of Mike Tyson.

Due to the three defeats he has suffered Juan knows he is now not in a position to demand fights but he’s more than willing to go back in with the best.

“If [Edwin] Valero wants me I’ll take it, if [former victim Michael] Katsidis wants me I’ll take it,” Diaz claims. “My dream is to have at least one of my world titles back at the end of the year.”

However his trainer Willy Savannagh was clear on who he wanted his man to fight next.

“The fight we’d like is Marquez again,” Savannagh insisted. “We’ve learned a lot from the first fight and this time we’d box a lot more and move him a lot more. He’s a great fighter but you can’t avoid age.”

Voted fight of the year for 2009 Diaz looks back at the Marquez fight with pride rather than despair.

“I’ve always dreamed of being in big action fights, legendary fights and that was certainly one of them,” he opined.

One fight that many of us will not have seen was his WBC Youth title win in 2003 against Joel Perez, a bout that Diaz views with greater satisfaction than any other.

“Victories over the likes of [Acelino] Freitas and [Julio] Diaz are treasures to me but when I won that title I learned a lot about myself,” he said. “We went to war from the opening bell until the final bell. I got knocked down but I got myself back up and proved to myself and others that I can overcome the odds and come back and win.”

Now a political science graduate and developing a painting and remodelling business with his brother he is eager to show himself and the boxing world that he is still a force to be reckoned with. “When people doubt me that is when I become the best athlete and person that I can be,” he declared.

This year we might just see “The Baby Bull” going on the the rampage in the lightweight division once again.