Julio Diaz: 'Enough is enough!'
Story by Felipe Leon
Photos by Chris Cozzone / Fightwireimages.com
Surprisingly, two time lightweight champion Julio "Kidd" Diaz (36-4, 26 KOs) is amused with the recent comments his next opponent Joel Casamayor made recently, where the two-time divisional champion stated in not-so-nice terms that if he didn't knock out Diaz, he was going to inflict great bodily harm.
"I think its funny. I have been a lightweight for thirteen years and he just got knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez, a featherweight," Diaz states with a chuckle.
Diaz is not above issuing a little thrash talk of his own.
"He would have been better off meeting up with the nice Julio Diaz, now he is facing the devil."
Diaz will be facing Casamayor as part of "Lightweight Lighting", the 135-pound division tournament that is being held on April 4th in Austin, Texas, and broadcast on HBO PPV. Also featured on the card is Edwin Valero versus Antonio Pitalua, Jorge Barrios against Carlos Hernandez and Michael Katsidis facing off against Jesus Chavez.
Coachella, Calif.'s Julio Diaz has scores to settle and although Casamayor is his next opponent, the man who looms large in his mind is the author of his most recent loss, the former undisputed lightweight champion Juan Diaz.
“I will fight Juan Diaz in an exhibition, non title fight or no payday,” he says. “It's just for me personally."
Since that loss back in September '07 in which Julio lost his IBF title, the "Kidd" decided to make a complete sweep and start his team anew.
"Enough was enough,” he says. “It was years and years and I needed to change to a different level. I think it just being loyal but I had one downfall against Jose Luis Castillo and we made a lot of mistakes as a team. Then I lost to a fighter of much lower level than myself, Juan Diaz, and enough was enough.”
Diaz is also outspoken on the split with his long time trainer Lee Espinoza of the Coachella Boxing club:
"I don't want to disrespect Lee but I think that everybody can see the type of trainer he is. I needed a more professional team, more open to other people being a part of it and doing their job, each one playing their role in the gym. Everybody needed to be on the same page, that Julio is the one that counts, that the most important this is for Julio to win. Everything had become a daily routine and I needed to change that."
The change came in the shape of Joel Diaz, Julio's older brother. Joel, a former fighter himself who fought in the 90's and challenged for the IBF lightweight title and ended up with a respectable 17-3, 4 KO ledger, has a busy stable of young fighters including current WBC jr. welterweight champion Timothy Bradley—a fact that doesn't raise any issues with Julio.
"We have different sessions. Timmy is in the morning and I am in the afternoon, we hardly run into each other," Diaz stated regarding Joel's training schedule. "I know that my brother is with me 120% and he will make sure I get to the fight at 100%."
Along with a change of trainer, Julio has gotten together with a new manager, Jose Castillo, who, along with Julio's career, also steers the career of fellow lightweight sensation Edwin Valero.
"It feels good to make a commitment with somebody and immediately see some results."
After his loss to Juan Diaz and the changes to his camp, Julio jumped back on the boxing radar against two less than elite opponents in David Torres and Fernando Trejo which he defeated convincingly with a fifth round TKO and a unanimous decision, respectively. But although neither fighter was up to Diaz's level, he does not discount the danger in facing that type of rival.
"I think those type of opponents are the tougher ones because they have nothing to lose so they go for the big punches. When you are fighting an elite fighter, there is a mutual respect there so sometimes those type of fights are easier.
“But this is the routine that I need to stop, winning all the fights except the big ones. Now I am training for my opponent compared to before when I was training for the scale. Now I am training for what my opponent is bringing.
“I didn't train for Diaz, I trained for the scale."
Having not stepped into a ring since October of last year, Diaz has begun to prepare for Casamayor.
“Seven weeks ago my normal camp began, and my training camp, two and half weeks ago. I was in shape when I started. I vowed never to make the mistake I made with Juan Diaz to start camp out of shape. Making weight is not the issue, just Casamayor is."
Casamayor (36-4-1, 22 KO) of Miramar, Fla. by way of Guantanamo, Cuba, is a veteran who began fighting in 1996 after capturing Olympic gold four years earlier. In his 13-year career, Casamayor has captured the WBA super featherweight title ,as well as the WBC lightweight title, and owns victories over Nate Campbell, Jose Armando Santa Cruz, Michael Katsidis and Diego Corrales twice. Experience that does not go unnoticed by Diaz.
"He does have a little more experience than me in bigger fights but I think I am the more complete fighter. His better days are in the past. I am no longer a kid in the ring, I am a very strong 135.
“But he's a great fighter, he has some great victories."
Diaz also expressed some choice words regarding the recent comments made by Casamayor.
"I have great respect for him as a fighter but outside the ring, I have no respect for him. I think he has no class. He thinks he is fighting a young prospect but he is fighting a world titlist, a fighter of some caliber. But I do think he is a warrior and I think he is going to give an exciting fight.
“I hope he does. This is HBO and I hope he does his part."
As far as the fight, Diaz believes he has the winning combination to get his hand raised on April 4th.
"I think my speed and my power will play into the fight. I think I will outlast him, I am the younger stronger and bigger guy. But I am not going to rely only on that. He is a technical fighter and we are going to bring in a good game plan. I have been studying his style and we are not going to fall in his game plan.
"Casamayor is a very slick southpaw, very technical. I have never had a problem with southpaws. I am a southpaw myself but I switched. I am very flexible. We are working in the gym to neutralize his left hand."
Diaz offers a bold prediction for the outcome of the fight and reveals his true intentions:
"I don't think it goes past six rounds. I can guarantee a good KO. I need to work my way up to get another fight with Juan Diaz and Casamayor is in my way."
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