By Ricardo Conde
Former unified WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world lightweight champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz (35-3, 17 KOs) of Houston, TX will take on current WBO and WBA world lightweight champion Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez (50-5-1, 37 KOs) of Mexico in a 12-round bout in the main event of “Fight of the Year: The Rematch” on Saturday July 31st at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV which will be televised live on pay-per-view. We had a moment to sit down and talk to Juan Diaz as he prepares for his upcoming fight with Marquez and here’s what he had to say:
Give us your thoughts on this rematch against Marquez, do you see the fight going all 12 rounds, what’s your prediction on the fight and what’s your opinion of him?
Marquez is one of those fighters that are very smart and a very intelligent fighter in the ring. So I have to be equally as smart as he is because if I’m not then obviously the same thing is going to happen like last time. I know it’s going to be a very hard fight and for this fight I’ve been training extremely hard and I definitely want to win the fight but I want to return the favor and punish him for twelve rounds.
How is training camp going and are you doing anything different in this camp that you didn’t do for your previous fight with Marquez and with only a couple weeks until the fight, how do you feel at this point?
Training camp has been great. I’m very excited and ready for this fight. I’ve been training extremely hard and we’ve been doing some adjustments in the gym to avoid anything bad from happening in this second fight. I’m just very exited and ready for the 31st to get here.
Having fought Marquez once already, what are some of the things you learned in the first fight that helped you prepare for the rematch?
Well, one of the things that we’ve been working on is not to square up with him because if I square up in front of him he’ll definitely be able to connect with some good punches and that’s one of the things I’ve been working on, is not squaring up against him and giving him an easy target in this fight.
Both you and Marquez are coming off losses, how important is it to you to win this fight and what kind of statement are you looking to make in this fight with Marquez?
It’s very important for me to win this fight if I want to move on to bigger and better things and the statement I want to make is that I want to shock all the critics and the naysayers because there’s a lot of people who doubt and don’t believe that I’m going to beat Marquez. Everybody has Marquez winning and they’re already talking about him fighting other guys. So what I want to do is shock everybody in this fight and I’m going to show them, I’m going to beat Juan Manuel Marquez on the 31st.
You have a very tough assignment on July 31st, but should you get past Marquez, who would you like to face next?
I don’t have anybody in mind in particular because I’m really focused and concentrated on this fight because I know this fight opens up a lot of doors and a lot of possibilities and without this fight it closes a lot of doors and opportunities so I’m definitely focused on Juan Manuel Marquez and nobody else at this time.
In your last fight you moved up to junior welterweight, do you have any plans on moving back up to 140 or will you be staying at lightweight for the remainder of your career?
No, I tried it once and I wasn’t as successful as I wanted to be so I think I’m going to finish off my career at lightweight.
You’ve had some very tough opponents throughout your career like Marquez of course, Malignaggi, Michael Katsidis, and Nate Campbell, in your opinion who do you feel has been your toughest opponent so far and why?
I guess my toughest opponent to date would be earlier in my career, a guy by the name of Ubaldo Hernandez. He’s been the guy who’s been one of my toughest opponents and had me seriously hurt more than once in the fight.
You’re signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s, Golden Boy Promotions; tell us a little bit about that and how you it has helped your career?
Golden Boy has been a great asset to my career because obviously they’re one of the top promoting companies in the sport and with Oscar De La Hoya’s recognition and the way his company has grown tremendously it has enabled me to get fights on HBO back to back and stay on top of my game.
Most people aren’t aware that you started your professional boxing career at the age of 16, won your first world title at age 20 and became the unified lightweight champion at age 24, having accomplished so much early on, what are some of the things that helped you stay focused and helped you become so successful in the ring at such a young age?
I believe that having both of my parents and Willie Savannah staying on top of me and making sure that I do the right things and stay humble, I think that’s what has really helped me to be so successful in the sport.
You’ve also been very successful outside of the ring as well, having graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and now joining law school, what made you decide to want to become a lawyer?
Well, when I was a little boy my mom always wanted me to be a lawyer and my dad always a boxer and I think that I’ve accomplished that goal for my dad and I thought now its time to give something to my mom as well. I want to let people know that school is very important; school opens up a lot of doors. I think and I believe that school opened up a lot of doors for me, being successful as a professional boxer and being shown on ESPN, HBO and Showtime also helped a lot. I think that because I was able to speak very well and conduct myself in a professional manner, I believe that’s why a lot of doors opened up for me and not only that I have politicians, lawyers, doctors that I’m friends with and are always interested in doing business with me and for the teenagers out there I want to let them know that school opens up a lot of doors and opportunities and it’s a way to better themselves in there lives.
In closing, is there anything you would like to tell your fans?
I want to let them know that even though its already the middle of the year that the year is just starting for me in my boxing career and I know there’s a lot of great things that are about to happen after the 31st and as always I want to thank all the “Baby Bull” fans for their support and come out and watch me on the 31st, its going to be a great fight.