Sitting inside of Barry’s Boxing on the East side of Las Vegas, veteran corner man Miguel Diaz is always more than willing to share his thoughts on the sport of boxing. Born in Argentina and involved in the sport for over 50 years, Diaz knows the sweet science from top to bottom and has played an essential role in the corner of such fighters as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Erik Morales, Jose Luis Castillo, Kelly Pavlik, and countless others.
Anyone seriously involved in the sport will likely find themselves eventually traveling a little bit here and there, be it within the States of abroad. On a typical month Diaz could easily find himself jet setting 3-4 times to handle his business in the corner but at this point in his career it is like old hat to him.
“I’m so used to traveling and it is my way of making a living,” Diaz told the Examiner. “My traveling is very comfortable. I always take my time. I arrive two or three days before the fight. Sometimes I can go the day of the fight and it makes no different to me.”
When asked for all the locations he has visited Diaz cracks a grin and reels off countries such as Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, Germany, Spain, England, and Italy among others. But when having to point out the most ideal setting he has been around, Diaz doesn’t hesitate to point to the East.
“The most organized place I have ever been is Japan,” Diaz claimed. “I went to Japan from 1992 through 1996. It was a very good experience for me. I worked for the best promoter in Japan, his name was Akihiko Honda. The name of his promotions was Teiken. It was very enjoyable. I would stay there for 40 to 60 days at a time, training fighters with trainers. It was very good for me and my career.”
In late 2008 Diaz was contacted by Freddie Roach for assistance in the corner of Manny Pacquiao, who was preparing for his ‘Dream Fight’ with Oscar De La Hoya. Cut man Joe Chavez had departed the Pacquiao camp to work with De La Hoya and Diaz was asked to fill the void. Ever since then Diaz has found himself aligned with Roach and his stable of fighters at the Wild Card Gym. In early June Diaz made his way to Yankee Stadium for the Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman clash to help young Vanes Martirosyan in his clash with fellow undefeated Joe Greene.
“I finished with Vanes Martirosyan,” Diaz said. “Very nice kid. Very methodical in his boxing. He is in great shape like all the Freddie Roach fighters. And he listens to Freddie Roach a lot. He is always waiting for Freddie Roach’s advice.”
Three weeks later the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas was the place to be as Diaz worked the corner of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in his riveting battle with John Duddy. Chavez would pound out a grueling twelve round decision in what should easily be looked at as one of this year’s best fights. Chavez Jr. began working with Roach earlier this year and Diaz believes the kid has flourished in his short time with his new trainer.
“It was a big improvement in Chavez but not only in his boxing,” Diaz revealed. “He showed he could throw many more punches and it was the variation of his punches. He started using his jab. He didn’t use the jab enough. I know Freddie Roach wanted more. But he threw his jabs and he used his right hands and before he didn’t even have a right hand. It was a great performance. Duddy put up all of his best, which was grittiness and he was hurt a couple of times but he didn’t want to give up. It made Junior a better fighter. After this fight he will really improve in his ability and his own way of boxing.”
Asked for his opinion on a possible Cotto-Chavez Jr. clash, which has been circulating in the rumor mill, Diaz fully believes the contest would be worth making. Yet at the same time he seems to feel that Chavez is a hot commodity at this point and that he has many avenues he can take.
“That will be a great fight,” Diaz says of a possible Cotto-Junior scrap. “Especially because the kid is a 160 pounder now. Maybe it would be at a catch weight. There are a lot of different things that could be coming his way. He could be fighting for the Middleweight championship. Things are very open for him now. A lot of different choices.”
Diaz went on state that what has stood out about his recent travels has been the impression he took from the Yankee Stadium last month as well as Dallas Cowboys Stadium in March when he worked Pacquiao’s fight with Joshua Clottey. Asked how the atmosphere varies between a stadium fight and a big Las Vegas clash, Diaz opened up by stating that in Nevada you will find more boxing minds as opposed to some stadium goers who simply attend the event for novelty.
When looking forward to the future Diaz also touched on the topic of this weekend’s clash between WBO featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez and challenger Bernabe Concepcion. Despite growing accustomed to Lopez for many years, Diaz notes that he is actually going to be looking at the Rio Piedras native from behind enemy lines this Saturday night.
“I am going to be working with Concepcion,” Diaz claimed. “I am leaving Wednesday. I am going to be working as cut man. I know Juan Manuel Lopez. His trainer is a good friend of mine and his manager is a good friend of mine. I think it’s going to be a great fight and I hope the public will really enjoy this fight. It’s a boxer-puncher in Lopez against a puncher in Concepcion; it’s going to be a very good fight.”
What makes the storyline more intriguing is the fact that Diaz is very familiar with Lopez and his team. For many years Diaz’ travels saw him frequenting the island of Puerto Rico to work with Cotto and his team and in those times he vividly recalls watching a young Lopez go to work. Just a four-round fighter at the time, Lopez has flourished since then and Diaz seems disappointed to have never had the opportunity to work with the 27-year old… (Click for Page 2)
PART 2 : Miguel Diaz’ travling ways lead him to Lopez-Concepcion
Want to know more about Miguel Diaz? In his time in the sport he has worked with a long list of fighters including Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, Kelly Pavlik, Jose Luis Castillo, Erik Morales, and several others. Click on the collage to see images of the fighters Diaz has assisted…
Concepcion did much of his training for the Lopez fight at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, California. Click on the collage below to see more images of Concepcion in training…
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Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at Trimond@aol.com