Diaz welcomes Pacquiao to Chicago
Report by Jacob Chavez
Photo by Juan Ayllon
WBC Lightweight Champion David Diaz (34-1-1, 17 KOs) welcomed Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (46-3-2, 35 KOs) to his home town of Chicago, today. The two combatants spoke at the press conference for their upcoming clash on June 28th at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
On a card billed as “Lethal Combination,” Diaz will be making the second defense of his title while Pacquiao will be making his debut at the 135-pound weight division. If Pacquiao comes out on top, he will be the first Filipino to win a world title in four weight divisions.
The fighters addressed the media at Lalo’s Mexican Restaurant and later attended a pep rally at Federal Plaza.
Promoter Bob Arum spoke highly of each and introduced them.
“You can’t count David out”, he said, referencing to Diaz’ terrific come from behind TKO against Jose Armando Santa Cruz in 2006 to win the interim title.
Diaz felt the warm backing of many in attendance who have been following his career for years. Diaz, however, is not a household name, but his experience and accomplishments in the ring are nothing to scoff at. His extensive amateur experience boasts nearly 200 fights, two of which were won against Zab Judah. He won the National Golden Gloves Championship four times and earned a spot in the US Olympics team of 1996. Diaz shares a common foe with Pacquiao as a professional in Erik “El Terrible” Morales, which he defeated by way of unanimous decision last year to win the WBC title. It is with these accomplishments and his high-pressure style that hopes to defend his belt against the fighter who has been dubbed, “The Mexican Assassin.”
Diaz spoke confidently:
“Its gonna be an all out war. He is a straight forward fighter as I am and we are going to go at it, but I am gonna win the fight”.
Diaz also acknowledged the tremendous popularity Pacquiao has among Filipinos, but pardoned himself, as he doesn’t intend on coming back without a belt.
“We are going to bring the title back to Chicago, and hopefully, well, the Filipino people are going to have to forgive me, but I just can’t allow it.”
The champion also acknowledged that he is the underdog, but affirmed that this is not the first time. In the past, he has dug deep to come out on top. Diaz’ sole loss was to Kendal Holt in 2005—a fight where Diaz gave little regard to defense and traded heavy shots through out with Holt. He was stopped in the eighth.
This time around, there will be no room for those types of mistakes. Fighters who have fallen asleep against Pacquiao have felt his wrath, and even those in peak performance have fallen prey. Going back two months during the rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao made Marquez pay dearly for straying off his game-plan of being the counter-puncher, to the aggressor, by knocking him down with a left upstairs—the deciding factor in Pacquiao winning the fight.
Marquez is just one of the names of iconic fighters that Pacquiao holds victories against. Both Marco Antonio Barrera and Morales have lost twice in recent years, hence the nickname, “Mexican Assassin”. One aspect of this fight that may not be in Pacquiao’s favor is that he has only fought twice against left-handed fighters. Both he and trainer, Freddie Roach mentioned the fact that they are preparing well for the southpaw stance of Diaz. When asked if this is weighing on his mind, Roach shrugged off the notion. Nevertheless, Pacquiao showed his usual calm demeanor and expressed great respect for his opponent.
“I don’t want to underestimate David,” said Pacquiao. “He is very strong fighter.”
He went on to explain how Diaz’ style compliments his:
“We have similar styles. He likes to come in throwing punches and that is what I like to do.”
He finished off by assuring everybody that this will be a great fight and thanking his supporters.
Many fight fans are hoping to see a third meeting with Juan Manuel Marquez, but that may not materialize any time soon, as Freddie Roach implied another possible move north in weight class.
“We are going to see how he handles this weight,” said Roach. “If he does well, we may be looking at a fight at 140 pounds against Ricky Hatton.”
These are big plans, but they first need to get past Diaz, who also spoiled Morales’ quest for a championship in four divisions.
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Tickets for “Lethal Combination” are on sale now and priced at $600, $400, $300, $200 and $100. The fights are being promoted by Top Rank, in association with MP Promotions and will be televised on HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9 p.m. EDT / 6 p.m. PDT.