By Chris Robinson
When I last spoke with former lightweight champion David Diaz, he was in a bit of a somber mood, warning me that he would likely be retiring from the sport of boxing after fifteen years as a professional as opposed to showing interest in a possible date with Juan Manuel Marquez.
Reflecting back on a career that saw him compile a 36-4-1 record with 17 knockouts while defeating Mexican legend Erik Morales in August of 2007 to capture the WBC lightweight crown he proudly held, Diaz seemed a little bittersweet but still ready to move on.
The 35-year old Diaz noted that he will be spending his time focusing on his family in his native Chicago, Illinois and can be found hosting a weekly radio show every Tuesday on his personal website www.Diazsportsinc.com
Fighting actively or not, Diaz is always one to chop up some boxing and I was still curious for his take on a few notable fights coming up, starting with the June 9th Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Diaz knows Pacquiao very well, as he suffered a tremendous amount of punishment from him during their June 2008 bout before eventually being halted in brutal fashion in the ninth round. Pacquiao, now the reigning WBO welterweight king, is a heavy favorite heading into his bout with Bradley, an undefeated champion at 140 pounds, but Diaz likes the matchup.
“You know, if he’s working his way to prepare himself for [Floyd] Mayweather, it might be,” Diaz said recently when asked if it was a tough test for Pacquiao. “Even though I understand that Bradley is in no way, shape, or form a Floyd Mayweather, with the skills that Floyd Mayweather has, maybe just to get him psychologically ready he wants to take on a guy who has decent speed and who sort of matches up to Mayweather.”
Diaz then changed his tune a bit and offered even more respect for the 28-year old Bradley.
“I personally don’t think it’s a fight that Pacquiao should take lightly,” Diaz continued. “Definitely go out there, because Bradley’s a dangerous champion. Definitely be mindful of that. It isn’t just going to be a walk in the park.”
Pacquiao looked far from stellar his last time out as he struggled in winning a majority-decision over Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12th. Diaz, like many observers, actually feels that the Mexico City star should have been awarded the decision on that night.
“I thought Marquez won by a round,” stated a candid Diaz. “But I think what could have helped him out, to convincingly beat him, was that twelfth round. That twelfth round he shouldn’t have let off. I understand he felt that he thought he won the fight. But that twelfth round, that championship round, that’s the one you go and take it away. And if you see Pacquiao’s reaction after the fight, after the bell rings, he was deflated.”
One month prior to the Pacquiao-Bradley melee, another pivotal fight will be going down when Floyd Mayweather Jr. again moves up in weight to challenge junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto for his WBA strap.
Does Diaz expect a competitive fight?
“Up until about the sixth or seventh round. Then I think Floyd Mayweather is going to put it on him. With Cotto’s last fight, I thought he did great obviously, because that’s what he had to do. He had to go out there and box. Because if he stood in there with [Antonio] Margarito, I can almost guarantee you it would have been the same outcome of the first fight,” said Diaz, pointing back to Cotto’s July 2008 loss to Margarito as well as his 10th round TKO triumph in their second encounter last December.
Margarito was caught with plaster-coated hand inserts in his dressing room one fight after his first duel with Cotto, raising suspicion that he too may have cheated against Miguel.
Cotto’s newfound success in the rematch had many believing that Margarito had indeed performed illegally the first time out, basically pointing to the Tijuana fighter being a different entity without the wraps.
Not so fast, says Diaz.
“A lot of people tend to say ‘You know what? It shows that Margarito was cheating because he didn’t knock him out this time and he didn’t have the wraps’, but I was like ‘No, it doesn’t show nothing like that’” Diaz stated. “Because Cotto didn’t’ fight the same fight as the first fight. The first time Cotto tried to go blow for blow with Margarito and that’s what got him in trouble. Margarito was starting to catch him and I believe Cotto was starting to die down. Had they let it go on a little further, who knows.”
And while the victory over Margarito is to be respected, Diaz knows all too well that a Mayweather encounter is a whole different ballgame.
“With Mayweather, this is a whole different beast he’s fighting,” Diaz claimed. “I doubt he’s going to be able to do what he did with [Shane] Mosley and Margarito when he used his jab effectively. Because Floyd’s too fast and I believe he’s going to surprise Cotto and end up stopping him I think.”