By Jake Donovan
Welterweight prospect Felix Diaz remains ahead of his schedule for his April 18 showdown clash with Emmanuel Lartey in Monroeville, PA, which airs live on Showtime. The unbeaten Dominican boxer is already within 5% of his contracted weight with two weeks to go before his televised debut.
"We're excited to have the opportunity to fight on Shobox," said Diaz (14-0, 8KO). "I'm honored that my promoter, Iron Mike Productions asked me to be on their first show on Showtime, and I want to make them and my entire time proud."
The 30-year old hit a few speed bumps since turning pro in 2009 following an incredible amateur career. The southpaw earned a Gold medal for his native Dominican Republic in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but has since flown under the radar in the pro ranks, having not fought since a 1st round knockout of Edgar Llanes last August.
The past several months have seen significant changes made to his team, and a full commitment by all involved to make sure the fighter hits the ground running and is briskly moved towards contention and an eventual title shot.
Two keys move made by manager Jose Nunez was to lay out a long term deal with promoter Iron Mike Productions and upgrade Diaz' training. The Brooklyn-based manager set his sights due West, recruiting the services of Robert Garcia, a former world champion who has quickly emerged as one of the top trainers in the game today.
In training at Garcia's gym in Oxnard, Calif., Diaz is surrounded by some of the top talent in and around his weight class. Included among the lot are unbeaten 130 lb. titlist Mikey Garcia, former lightweight champ Brandon Rios and current welterweight titlist Marcos Maidana, who is in training for the biggest fight of his life in preparing for his May 3 blockbuster event with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather.
At the very worst, Diaz is managing to hold his own.
"Felix is a very talented fighter," notes Garcia. "I could see why he was a Gold medalist. He works really hard and with a few things I plan to add to his arsenal, we will make him a complete fighter and a champion one day."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBoxTags: Felix Diaz