Juan Diaz: In Search of Mega-Fights and a Promoter
Undefeated WBA Lightweight champion Juan Diaz (30-0) has got a lot things on his plate.
After his promotional agreement with Main Events expired this past August, Diaz’s manager, Willie Savannah, agreed in principal to a multi-fight deal with Golden Boy Promotions.
Then, Savannah and Diaz changed their tune, instead choosing to sign a reportedly more lucrative multi-fight contract with Don King Productions. According to Savannah, there have been certain roadblocks preventing the finalization of a long-term relationship between his client and King.
With a potential seven-figure deal (whoever the promoter may be) hinging on a Diaz victory, one would expect the Houston resident to be feeling the heat. According to the “Baby Bull”, the promotional brouhaha is the furthest thing from his mind.
“I know that my main priority is to just get in the ring and train and work my butt off,” Diaz said. “Business, I don’t even worry about it.”
While Savannah chose not to get into specifics why the King deal fell through for the time being, he laid out what he requires in a perspective promoter.
“Juan is only 23,” Savannah said. “Juan needs to fight regularly, not once or twice or a year. I need to get him with someone who is going to showcase him every three or four months.”
So when Diaz defends his title on Saturday evening against unknown challenger Fernando Angulo (18-3) at Chase Field in Phoenix, Diaz will indeed be fighting under the King banner… in what is now a one-fight deal.
In Angulo, Diaz is facing a Venezuelan slugger who has fought all but four of his 21 professional fights in his home country.
“He goes out there and throws wild punches, punches from every angle,” Diaz said.
Angulo, unknown to all but the most rabid fight fans, is another in a string of Diaz title defenses against, shall we say, the non-elite of the boxing world. Consequently, this has prompted many observers to say Diaz is ducking dangerous opponents.
Diaz and his team insist that could not be further from the truth.
“You have to have the right fights offered to you,” Savannah said. “We can’t just go out there and force these guys to fight Juan. If you look at the Internet, you don’t see many fighters calling out Juan, for whatever reason, I don’t know.”
“I’ve tried to get a lot of those big fights to come my way, but for some reason, those fights have not come to us,” Diaz said. “I think it’s the fact that fighters, when they see me, they see that I might not be a very strong puncher, like a guy who could knock you out with one punch. But they see when they go in there, they are going to have to work to beat me, and they are going to have to fight.”
If Diaz takes care of Angulo as expected, he is looking towards the mega-money fights that have thus far eluded him. According to Diaz, the number one fight on his radar is with fellow Texan, Jesus Chavez. With Golden Boy holding Chavez’s promotional rights… don’t expect that to happen.
The only other lucrative names in the division are Joel Casamayor and Acelino Freitas, rumored to be fighting one another. Savannah mentioned the possibility of his client eventually moving up to Junior Welterweight to find greener pastures.
Savannah’s wish list also includes a kid from Manchester, England.
“Can you imagine a Juan Diaz and Ricky Hatton fight? It would be an action fight from bell to bell.”
For now, Diaz will have to be content with Fernando Angulo.
“Eventually, I think those [big] fights will come to me,” Diaz said. “I don’t have to call out anybody. I think that when they see I’m still undefeated, when I’m still a champion, I think that’s when the boxing people will start demanding those fights.”
Within boxing circles, the demand is starting to build. Whether Diaz fulfills those demands is an article to be written another time.