Don’t call Diego Pacheco a prospect. Although he’s barely allowed to drink, he believes he’s more than ready to take on some of the super middleweight division’s best.
It was easy for the 22-year-old to look impressive so far, but this Saturday night, he was finally thrown into the ring with a real contender. Or, at least a fringe one.
At the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California, Pacheco (20-0, 17 KOs) took on former title challenger, Marcelo Coceres. He had a few rough moments in there, but Pacheco began finding his groove in the second half of their clash.
An open wound in the seventh round gave him the juice he needed to get things going. In the ninth, Pacheco pinned his man against the ropes and began having his way. For the first time all night, Coceres hit the deck. Staying there wasn’t a part of the plan as he dusted himself off and beat the count. The reprieve he was looking for, however, never arrived.
Pacheco pounded the veteran, forcing him to take a knee. A despondent Coceres looked up at referee Ray Corona as he continued his count. Getting up and carrying on looked likely but as Pacheco bounced up and down on his toes, thumping his fists together, Coceres made a business decision, staying on the mat until he was officially counted out.
In all likelihood, Pacheco’s year will come to an end. He’ll now spend the rest of his holiday seasons enjoying his Thanksgiving meal, wrapping Christmas presents, and watching the New Year's ball drop. He’ll also have Edgar Berlanga on his mind.
For the hard-hitting Puerto Rican, he’s ostensibly in a different stage of his career. Following a lopsided win over Jason Quigley, Berlanga called out the super middleweight division’s elite. Canelo Alvarez, Jaime Munguia - they can all get it according to Berlanga.
Pacheco, nevertheless, was left off his hit list. Berlanga simply chalks that up to a lack of hype and name recognition. Pacheco isn’t buying it. While Berlanga doesn’t bring up his name in conversations, the 22-year-old believes that his presence is already felt.
“He knows what it is," said Pacheco after his victory. "I’m here.”