Chicago's David Diaz (36-3-1, 17 KOs) has his wife to Tonya to thank when he appears in the co-featured bout of the final episode of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" 2011 season, this Friday, August 19, at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana.
The Former WBC lightweight world champion and 1996 U.S. Olympian had all but retired from boxing.
"My wife is a big boxing fan. We were watching fights and I would tell her I used to do this stuff and she'd say it looks like you miss it; why not go to the gym? She told me two or three times and finally I said I'll go to the gym and see if I like it... The first day I stayed in the gym for four hours. People were saying 'Dave you should relax,' and I would say 'You don't know how much I miss this!' It all came back."
And so he is back to face Philadelphia's rising contender "Hammerin'" Hank Lundy (20-1-1, 10 KOs) in a lightweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds.
"I needed time off because I was boxing since I was eight years old, but I'm back now, thanks to my wife."
Diaz vs. Lundy will serve as the opening televised bout. The night's 10-round junior middleweight main event will feature Providence, Rhode Island's 2008 U.S. Olympian Demetrius "Boo Boo" Andrade (13-0, 9 KOs) against always dangerous veteran Grady Brewer (28-12, 16 KOs) of Lawton, Oklahoma.
A local hero, Diaz won the WBC title in August 2006, and successfully defended against Mexican legend Erik Morales the following year.
"Training went really good. We have no problems. I had great sparring and it went really good," he said after one of his final workouts. "I'm still working with Jim Strickland and Mike Garcia and I'm definitely ready. It's going to be a two-year run and we'll see what we get out of it. My body has about two more years to fight at the top level and compete for titles. That's all I'll be able to do."
Diaz, like many others, knows he hasn't chosen an easy road to return to full-time boxing. Lundy is a formidable opponent by all accounts.
"All fights make me nervous. You can't go in over-confident because you end up losing. Hank Lundy is exceptionally good. He has great speed, decent power and he switches off, so it'll be a hard a fight. But I believe I want this more than he does. I've had the better opposition and my experience will show in this fight."
Friday's fight will also be a reunion of sorts, as Diaz will be fighting for his original promoter, Bobby Hitz of Hitz Boxing. "Bobby is a great guy I get along great with him. I've never had an issue with him and he's been good to me. And it's the best feeling. Fighting in the Chicagoland area is the best because you have to put on a good show for your people. I told him I wanted to fight on his card, so he said let me see what I can do. And now here I am!"
More exciting fights will be announced. All bouts subject to change without notice. Doors open at: 6:00 P.M. (all times Central time)
First fight at: 7:00 P.M.
Tickets are priced at $90 Ringside, $40 Orchestra (main level), $30 (mezzanine and balcony).
Tickets available at: www.fanfueled.com and www.thevenue-chicago.com.
Friday's fights will be televised live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes - ESPN's Spanish-language network - and ESPN3.com, the network's broadband platform service.