Juan ” Baby Bull” Diaz, 34 (17) – 2 and a former lightweight champion, is finalizing his preparations to meet Paulie Malignaggi, a fight to be televised on HBO on August 22nd. Diaz will be back in Houston, fighting in his hometown for the third straight time. Prior to his first real fight in the junior welterweight division, I spoke to Diaz about his training, his career and his future.
We’re less than two weeks out from your fight against Paulie Malignaggi, how are you feeling right now?
JD: I’m feeling great. I had a great day of sparring today. I have three guys that came in from out of the state. I’m feeling great and I’m excited to be back here in Houston once again and trying to make it back to the top.
This is your first fight at junior welterweight, at least since you were a newly professional fighter. Were you having trouble making 135 or was this just a matter of taking the best fight that was out there right now?
JD: I wasn’t having no problem making the 135 limit, but this was the best fight out there for me. I believe that Paul Malignaggi is not at all taking a step down. I definitely want to fight the best out there even though in my last fight I was not successful, I didn’t want to take a tune up fight or a warm up fight. I told my managers, look, I’m young right now, I have all of the energy in the world, so I want to fight the best.
Will you be at 140 permanently from here on out or will you be jumping around if you need to be?
JD: It all depends. I’m looking forward to the fight here in Houston on August 22 nd and it all depends. My biggest dream was to become a world champion. I did it four times, becoming a four time world champion. Now, I want to leave a mark in boxing. Before I leave the sport I want to make sure I leave a mark. I want people to know who Juan Diaz was in the sport. So I’m looking to fight the best guys, whether it’s at lightweight or super lightweight it doesn’t matter. I can make both weights comfortably.
Your academic pursuits and career aspirations are well known. How much longer can we expect to see Juan Diaz, the professional boxer?
JD: For me as a professional boxer, I believe I would give myself about three or four more years to really concentrate on the sport. Because I’m looking forward to being able to communicate and talk very well with my family… I don’t want to be one of those boxers who can’t communicate or understand their family members. So I’d say about three or four more years.
Back to the upcoming fight…has your training camp been any different this time around, knowing you don’t have to get down to 135?
JD: The good thing I can tell you about is I can eat an extra meal at night… instead of eating cereal or fruit or salad, I can actually eat a full meal. Believe it or not, three and a half pounds actually makes a big difference. Right now I would be around 37 or 38 but instead I’m weighing 141, 142 right now because I don’t have to drop those extra few pounds.
A little less hungry at night would go a long way I’m sure…
JD: (Laughs) Definitely, yea.
What do you think about your style will give Malignaggi problems?
JD: I think that my aggressive style is gonna be the key factor to victory. You see, what Paul Malignaggi likes to do is wait around, use his jab and punch and move, punch and move. But the question that is going to be asked and answered that night is can he go for 12 rounds. Because I can fight for 12 rounds, but can he punch and move for 12 rounds? That right there is gonna be the key to my victory.
So how do you see the fight playing out?
JD: I believe my pressure, my body punching, is gonna be the key to everything. But I’m not gonna let him take advantage of the early rounds. I know from the beginning he is going to be able to punch and move. But if I let him win the early rounds that may boost up his confidence and confidence can take you a long way. If your confidence is built up by the later rounds he might not get tired. He might decide, hell, I’m winning, I’m not gonna stop whatever it takes.
You started your career 33-0, and now you’ve lost two of your last three. What does this fight mean for you and your career?
JD: This fight right here, I think I can establish myself as a true super lightweight. I think that this fight can show the fans that I can fight at lightweight or super lightweight and I want to make my mark in boxing and I want to fight the best fighters out there, whether it’s at lightweight or super lightweight.
JD: Well, I think, frankly, I think that Nate Campbell’s career is almost over. It was a controversial victory for Bradley but in a way I see where Campbell is coming from, he did get head butted. But, he quit. In the end he quit. And a lot of the fans and the TV men don’t want to see a quitter in the ring. So I think that Nate Campbell’s career is just about done. The main guy I would love to have a rematch with is Marquez. The only thing that still bothers me to this day from that fight is that the referee had to step in and stop the fight. I was knocked out…feelings weren’t hurt, I feel great… but my pride as a boxer was hurt. I want to be able to get a shot and redeem myself.
If you get past Malignaggi on August 22nd, what’s the plan for the rest of the year?
JD: In the perfect world, my plan would be to get back in the ring before the year ends. It would be great if I could fight the week right before Christmas or early December. But unfortunately that’s up to my manager and my promoters and the TV networks, and they have to work that out. So in the perfect world like I said, I would love to fight one more time again in December, but if it doesn’t happen… I guess I’ll enjoy the holidays…
…And you won’t have to worry so much about what you’re eating on Thanksgiving…
JD: (Laughs) Exactly…
Thanks for the time Juan and good luck on the 22nd.
The Juan Diaz vs. Paulie Malignaggi fight will be televised on HBO on Saturday, August 22nd as the headline bout to a triple feature.