Coachella’s mystical Julio “The Kidd” Diaz travels to Hollywood, Florida to meet Ricky Quiles on Thursday, May 18, in a title elimination bout for the IBF lightweight championship and for “Tribal Pride.”
Diaz, 26, is promoted by the California-based Sycuan Indians and Quiles (39-6-3, 8 KOs) by the Florida-based Seminole tribe.
It’s fitting that two American Indian tribes are promoting this world title fight because Diaz’s desert upbringing with all of its ancient herbs, traditions and remedies blend right in.
Since childhood, Diaz has been cured and healed with desert remedies concocted by his father. To this day he often seeks his father’s help with sicknesses and injuries.
Once his father cured a black widow spider bite that had inflamed his arm to twice its size with a mixture of rattlesnake, lemon and scorpion poison. After making it into a salve, the lotion was put on his arm and by the next day it was gone.
Another remedy has certain types of leaves that are burnt and blown into his ear to cure aches in his body.
In the town of Coachella this is considered normal.
Joel Diaz, the older brother who trains fighters in the Indio and Coachella area, knows of one healer who can immediately look at someone and detect a physical problem by sight. Then he applies pressure like a chiropractor and fixes the problem.
“He doesn’t ask for a lot of money just whatever you can give him,” Joel says. “He says it’s a gift.”
Unorthodox remedies and solutions are the norm for Diaz and his family.
Even his signing with Sycuan Ringside Promotions was seen as unusual. He had spent several years with a more traditional boxing promotion company Top Rank. Diaz broke tradition and signed with the new Sycuan Ringside boxing promoters two years ago. They took him to the world title.
Last year Diaz was beaten by Jose Luis Castillo in 10 rounds and lost his IBF belt. He later learned from the Mexican champion that he had been hurt but Diaz did not detect the change.
“He (Castillo) told me I hurt him and that he was lucky I didn’t know it,” Julio Diaz (32-3, 24 KOs) said.
Castillo and Diaz became friends through chance when both attended a nightclub in Mexicali, Mexico.
Since losing the IBF title, Diaz ha proceeded to knock out two challengers within one round. He knows he has power now.
“Castillo told me I hit as hard as Diego Corrales,” Diaz said, adding that he later helped Castillo prepare for his last fight against Rolando Reyes.
But a knockout won’t be easy against Quiles.
The Puerto Rican fighter has one of the best chins in boxing. In 38 pro fights. Quiles has only been stopped once and that was in 1990.
Quiles, 36, a tall and crafty southpaw, has been lingering near the top of the lightweight and junior welterweight division for years. A pair of wins over top contenders Javier Jauregui and Edner Cherry has vaulted him to the number two position.
Now Diaz is poised to regain his world title. From childhood, Julio has been called the most gifted of his family.
“Julio has all of the tools,” says Lee Espinosa, who trains Julio. “I can’t see a reason why he can’t be world champion again.”
The fight card will be shown on pay-per-view on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Fighters aren’t supposed to begin pro boxing careers at age 35, but San Bernardino’s Siala “Mighty Mo” Siliga feels he has the power to overcome any obstacle including his pro debut at the Hollywood Hard Rock Casino on Thursday May 18, against heavyweight Lamar Stephens (6-2-1, 3 KOs).
“Everywhere I fought I won,” said Siliga, who began fighting in Tough Man contest before graduating to cage fighting, Ultimate Fighting Championship and eventually K-1 tournaments.
“He won all of those tournaments,” said Daryl Thompson, Siliga’s manager. “He knocked out three K-1 champions.”
Ian Franklin, who trains Siliga, said he’s never seen a fighter with Mighty Mo’s power.
“Not only does he have power, but he has speed too,” Franklin said.
Mo said he’s not taking any easy fights.
“I have to step it up because of my age,” Siliga said.
He’s lost two fights in Japan but that doesn’t mean it’s over for Jose Navarro (23-2, 11 KOs), the former 2000 Olympian out of South Central Los Angeles. Navarro meets Vernie Torres in a battle of junior bantamweights at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. The fight will be televised on Wednesday by ESPN2 at 6 p.m.
While the tall southpaw Navarro is battling with Torres, a week later Jhonny Gonzalez meets Fernando Montiel for the WBO bantamweight title. Battling the winner of that match would be a logical step for Navarro who once was managed by Oscar De La Hoya.
Another possible opponent in the near future could be Martin Castillo, the IBF junior bantamweight titleholder. He’s considered one of the best boxers in the business and would be a great fight in Los Angeles where both train.
First, Navarro has to get past Torres (27-6), a tough Filipino fighter with plenty of experience.
Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero is back in the saddle again and headlines a fight card on Thursday at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, California. Guerrero (16-1-1, 9 KOs) faces Sandro Marcos (25-14-2) in a 10-round featherweight bout.
It’s the Ghost’s first boxing match since losing to the gritty Gamaliel Diaz by split-decision last December. His trainer John Bray says Guerrero has looked sharp and is eager to get back into the thick of things.
“He learned a lot from that fight,” said Bray.
Guerrero was roughhoused and fouled continually by Diaz who fell behind, but rallied by getting tough with holding and punching tactics. Guerrero tried to rally but resorted to the old one-two too many times. But the southpaw slugger learned you can’t knock out everyone. He should get better. Guerrero is only 23.
Southern California fights
In Palm Springs, Samuel Lopez (17-3) meets Edel Ruiz (28-14-3) in a bantamweight matchup at the Morongo Casino on Friday May 19. The fight card is promoted by Two Feathers and also features several local fighters. The most intriguing match pits Redland’s Anthony Villareal (3-1) against Hemet’s Jerry Pavich (1-1-1) in a flyweight contest. Both boxers know each other very well from their amateur boxing days. It should be an excellent match. For tickets and information call (866) 328-2024. The doors open at 6 p.m
Kaliesha West (2-0), the fast-rising bantamweight out of Moreno Valley, meets Elizabeth Cervantes (1-4) at the Quiet Cannon Golf Course in Montebello. West has erupted in the professional boxing scene after a standout amateur career. For tickets and information call (323) 781-4871. The doors open at 7 p.m.
Canceled fight card
A boxing show scheduled at the Shrine Auditorium for Thursday May 18, has been canceled said promoter Manny Cota. Mighty Mike Anchondo was to have been on the main event.
Fights on television
Wed. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Jose Navarro (23-2) vs. Vernie Torres (27-6).
Thurs. pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Julio Diaz (32-3) vs. Ricky Quiles (39-6-3).
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Yusef Mack (22-0-2) vs. Alejandro Berrio (24-4).
Sat. HBO, 7:30 p.m., Marco Antonio Barrera (61-4) vs. Rocky Juarez (25-1).