Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com

Juan Diaz Retires, The Sport of Boxing Loses

By Cliff Rold

The news came quietly this week.

Considering the source, perhaps the better word would be humbly.

Not yet 28 years old, Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz announced he was calling it a career on Monday, June 13.  This being boxing, there is every reason to think it won’ stick.  History says former fighters inevitably are seduced by the call of the ring, entranced into becoming current fighters once more.

Bet the exception this time around.

There is no intricate personal knowledge of Diaz here, no more relationship than anyone else who watched his fistic endeavors unfold.  No, it’s just a hunch based on what was observed from start to finish.

Part of a strong debutante class in 2000 that featured Jermain Taylor, Rocky Juarez, Ricardo Williams, Brian Viloria, and “Panchito” Bojado, Diaz ends his paid tenure near the head of the class.  Men like Williams and Bojado were more physically gifted, but they lacked a certain something Diaz possessed. 

That something was evident from early on. 

When Williams and Bojado suffered early career upsets, their disappointment was evident but all too non-plussed.  When Diaz came off the floor to barely save his “0” with a split decision over Ubaldo Hernandez, he couldn’t make it through the post-fight interview without choking back tears. 

Being sports followers, boxing followers in particular, collective fandom had its laughs at the moment.  For some it was evidence Diaz was just too soft for the hardest of games.  It was irrelevant that Diaz had turned pro little more than a year earlier at 16, that on the day of the Hernandez bout he was still a few weeks shy of 18. 

The kid wasn’t going to cut it.

Except he did. 

We would learn throughout the 2000’s that those tears reflected a passion boxing always needs more of.  He had good but not great hand speed, wasn’t a huge puncher, and could be hit, but damn if he didn’t leave it in the ring and get every ounce out of his talents that he could.  For certain he developed one of the better combination punching, steady pressure attacks of his generation.

His generation was probably part of the problem in appreciating him.

Diaz was, relative to boxing, born too soon.  He became a boxing star.  Had he come of age during the 1980s, 50s, 30s…he’d have been one of the biggest stars in sports.  How could he not?  His demeanor was, for lack of a better word, wholesome; he fought like hell; and he was going to college.

And he graduated.

Part of the hype around him included those academic pursuits, later his studying for the LSAT’s. 

LSAT’s in boxing?

Born in a day better attuned to the sweet science, Diaz might have ended up on the cover of Life Magazine.  He was what has become so rare in sports in 2011.

Diaz was the kind of guy a parent could point to as an example, a role model. 

What he got living in his time wasn’t so bad.  Main event bouts on Showtime and HBO ensured his tuition was paid for and then some.  He came up one belt (WBC) short of winning all four of the major alphabet belts at lightweight and for a stretch was regarded as the best 135 lb. fighter in the world.  He’d have been favored to best the man who reigned as WBC and lineal champion for most of their shared title time, Joel Casamayor.

The cagey Cuban didn’t seem to want anything to do with Diaz.

Acelino Freitas did.  Diaz retired him.  Julio Diaz did and found the “Baby Bull” one more mountain at the top of the class he just couldn’t climb.  He added their WBO and IBF belts, respectively, in 2007 to the WBA belt he’d picked up in 2004 with a memorable coming out party against rugged Mongolian Lakva Sim.

The wheels came off from there.  The wheels always come off somewhere.  Veteran Nate Campbell took his belts in a career best performance in early 2008.  A bounce back win over tough Michael Katsidis set the stage for Diaz’s greatest fight.

And his worst defeat.

With the fight basically even, Diaz was stopped in round nine of what would go on to be the 2009 choice for Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  The great Juan Manuel Marquez proved too much for a Diaz who may have fought the finest fight of his life.  Coming up short on a day like that is usually a sign of the end nearing. 

It was the case.

While Diaz would win his next fight against Paulie Malignaggi, the scoring was controversial enough to force a rematch.  Diaz came up well short.  The same was true in the rematch with Marquez last year, though he kept his feet throughout.

He might not go down as a capitol “G” great fighter, but no one can say it wasn’t a great career.  35 wins, only 4 defeats, and already a radio show, his own LLC, and a trucking company.

In his farewell statement, Diaz wrote, “Though my fighting career is ending, in many ways, it feels like my professional career is just beginning.”

And a quality chapter in the story of boxing closes.

Weekly Ledger

But wait, there’s more…

New P4P: http://www.boxingscene.com/make-room-super-middles-pound-pound-update--40179  
Divisional Ratings Update:
http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Puerto Rican Day Parade Eve:
http://www.boxingscene.com/del-valle-gonzalez-continue-nyc-boricua-invasion--40248
Picks of the Week:
http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--40327

Cliff’s Notes… Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan (at choking).  Seriously, maybe he should change that tat to read “Chosen Two” because he’s second best…Dirk Nowitzki says give him five years, and he might prove a lot of liars…Green Lantern comes out this weekend.  Someone take away Blake Lively’s cell camera.  Wait, don’t…I totally think David Haye should wear the beheading t-shirt into the ring with Wladimir Klitschko.  Why not?  If he wins, the shirt gets even funnier (and it’s already hilarious).  If he loses, hey, yep, still hilarious…Sergio Martinez now has his champion’s walkover payday in place.  Sure, opponent Darren Barker is probably more competitive than Martinez nuking someone like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. would be, but so what?  Good for Martinez after some tough fights but the argument about who has faced the toughest consecutive competition in boxing just ended.  Carl Froch won.      

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

Tags: Juan Diaz image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by edwin1979 on 06-19-2011

I agree wit mos of this article, except that Martinez has had the harder opposition imo. 1-Froch had no choice, he entered a round robin tourney, W/O the tourney I doubt he would have fought those guys by choice in…

Comment by RonSigPi on 06-19-2011

[QUOTE=paulf;10711804]This fool came from poverty and used boxing to land him at an [B]ivy league school[/B]. He worked hard in and out of the ring, and because of that he got into the highest of highs you can get into…

Comment by tx_boxing on 06-18-2011

[QUOTE=paulf;10711804]This fool came from poverty and used boxing to land him at an [B]ivy league school[/B]. He worked hard in and out of the ring, and because of that he got into the highest of highs you can get into…

Comment by Weebler I on 06-18-2011

[QUOTE=Budweiser V 2.0;10711762]sport of boxing loses what?[/QUOTE] an exciting fighter and a role model outside as well as inside the ring. Good luck to him.

Comment by shenmue on 06-18-2011

[QUOTE=AddiX;10713544]Good luck to the baby bull. Was always an entertaining fighter, had a good career. Deserves nothing but respect from this sport.[/QUOTE] I echo these words, really enjoyed his fights with JMM and his fight against Katsidis.

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (45)
Top Headlines Adrian Granados Will Be Back on Showtime, Says Manager Cautious Chavez Certain He’ll Make 164.5 for Canelo Fight Michael Perez vs. Marcelino Lopez Tops ESPN2 Bill on April 20 Broner-Granados Fight Peaked at 859,000 Viewers on Showtime Canelo Plans To Vacate WBO Title, Fight at 160 - After Chavez Bout Joe Gallagher: Liam Smith Expects Tough Fight With Williams Izu Ugonoh: I Have To Be at My Best To Beat Dominic Breazeale Chavez Expects to Enter Ring at 180; Canelo Not Concerned DiBella: Unlike Wilder-Wawrzyk, 'Nervous' About Wilder-Washington Chavez: Canelo Picked Me Over GGG For 'Easier Fight, More Money' Gavin McDonnell: I'll Do Whatever it Takes To Beat Rey Vargas Izu Ugonoh Aims To Make a Statement in Big Career Showcase Liam Williams on Liam Smith: This Is A Real Fight, It'll Be Good Cecilia Braekhus' Former Coach Ready To Help Svensson Win Angulo: Canelo Lacking The Heart and Balls To Face Golovkin Mayweather Sr: I Would Beat Conor McGregor's Ass - And I'm 63! Adam Bashanov Set To Turn Pro on Ceylan vs. Lowe Card WBA, AIBA Hold a Second Meeting in Taipei To Further Relations Jhonny Gonzalez Back on March 25, To Face Sergio Estrella Jarrett Hurd: I'm Turning A lot of Non-Believers into Believers Dat Nguyen Shocks Miguel Flores, Blasts Him Out in Six Rounds Video: Canelo Alvarez Talks Chavez, Golovkin, More Hunter: Ward Mistreated By Media, HBO - Why Wouldn't He Retire? Daniel Franco Training, Set To Return on March 23 in LA Canelo is Confident That He Can Put Chavez Jr. To Sleep Video: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Discusses Canelo, Weight, More Photos: Lucian Bute, Eleider Alvarez - Go Face To Face at Presser Canelo: Mayweather-McGregor Would Be a Black Eye For Boxing De La Hoya: Canelo-Chavez Will Be a War - There is No Favorite Orlando Salido Being Considered for Canelo-Chavez Co-Feature Rey Vargas vs. Gavin McDonnell To Be Carried By KlowdTV Photos: Canelo, Chavez Jr. - Go Face To Face in New York City Floyd Mayweather Plans Big 40th Birthday Bash in California Garcia On Dad's Tirade: Free Speech, He Can Say What He Wants De La Hoya: GGG Can Fight Canelo or Keep Making What He Makes! Pacquiao's Adviser Aims To Finalize Fight, Venue By Next Week Lee Selby To Return On Haye-Bellew, Will Face Andoni Gago Photos: Caleb Plant Putting in Work For Ring Return Otto Wallin Very Excited To Headline Hometown Card on April 22 Frank Buglioni Injured In Sparring, Out Of Ricky Summers Defence
Advertisement
Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement