Juan Diaz: "Theyīre Gonna Have To Carry Me Out On A Stretcher!"

juan diaz24.04.07 - Interview by John Martinez, Moments ago I spoke with WBA lightweight champ Juan Diaz to get his thoughts on this Saturdayís unification showdown with fellow belt holder, WBO titlist Acelino ď PopoĒ Freitas. The championship fight will take place at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, CT and will air live, solely on HBOís BOXING AFTER DARK at 10 PM ET/PT. The young champion vowed that heís ready and willing to prove himself to the world.

JM: How was training camp Juan?

JD: Itís been real good. Today was our last day for sparring and tomorrow will just be hand mitts and light work.

JM: How did this camp differ (if at all) from other camps youíve had?

JD: Well in terms of intensity, itís been the same. I have to keep the intensity for every camp because I always give it my all no matter what or who it is. I know that every fight is important for me in order for me to get where I am today. The only difference that I can say is that Iím not feeling any ď butterfliesĒ or nervousness for this fight. I see this fight as a win-win situation for me. Going into the fight I really have nothing to lose. Freitas is the man to beat so I am very calm leading into this.

JM: Howís your weight coming along?

JD: Right now Iím at 136 Ĺ pounds so Iím right on target. I havenít had any problems at all with the weight.

JM: Freitas has likened this fight to a father giving his child a spanking. What do you think of that comment and do you think he truly respects your style despite those words?

JD: Well I think he does respect my fighting style. You know, a lot of boxers like to talk it (fight) up for hype. I think thatís a good thing for the fans and the publicity it attracts. But you know, maybe he really believes that heís gonna spank me. But weíll see once we step in that ring Saturday night. Itís a whole different thing once we get in there, you know?

JM: Your trainer, Ronnie Shields, told me that he believes Freitas will run and quit once he gets in there with you. Do you share that same assessment?

JD: No. Iím expecting something different from Freitas. You know, as a fighter, I can never let myself think that way. If I think that going in to the fight, then he (Freitas) might show me something different in there and I wonít be prepared for it. So Iím training for a different Freitas. Iím training for the one that fought before Corrales. Iím preparing for the Freitas that gave it his all everytime out and was hungry for the win each time fought.

JM: You like to stay on the body and wear your opponents down with volume punching. Do you have a Plan B in case this doesnít work against ď PopoĒ?

JD: Definitely. Iíve been working on Freitasís style. You know at the beginning you saw him coming forward and being the aggressor, but lately heís been more of a boxer. For example, against Corrales and Raheem, he wasnít as aggressive. He boxed a little more against those guys. So I plan for either Freitas to show up. Whichever one shows up we got an answer for. Whatever we have to do, weíve planned for it.

JM: Do you think you have an advantage emotionally and psychologically over Freitas coming into this bout seeing as how some has labeled him a quitter?

JD: Yes I definitely do. I think thatís a big advantage for me because heís gonna go in there thinking to himself ď I canít quit, I canít quit.Ē You know, heís gonna concentrate on not quitting and that will be a big advantage for me because itíll be in his mind during the fight.

JM: What does this fight mean to you? Do you view this fight as a ď statementĒ fight?

JD: Actually, I see it as business but really it is kind of personal for me. I want to prove myself to the world and show that I am a true champion. A lot of fans donít really believe in me right now. Theyíve said things like ď we need to see him fight and punch somebody that we know is a true championĒ and by me beating the top contenders I believe I would have proven myself.

JM: Since weíre talking about the perceived knocks against you, how do you answer those that say you donít have the punching power to keep Freitas honest? What do you want to say concerning your punching power or what many people say is the lack there of?

JD: Well look at my record. Iím 31-0. I became champ at 20 years old. Thatís only second in boxing history to Mike Tyson. Mike was a power puncher and Iím tied with him. Itís not about how much power you have; itís about how much heart and soul you put into it. Thereís a lot of guys out there that are knocking people out here and there, but when you put pressure on them and put them to the test, they donít know how to deal with it and they donít have the skills for it either. So itís not always about knockouts and power. Itís about skill and heart.Ē

JM: What should we expect to see from Juan Diaz on Saturday night?

JD: Well first of all, Iím a great action fighter. Thatís my job. I want to please the fans and give them a great show. Iím gonna make him fight. If Freitas goes up there and runs, then Iíll do what I have to do in order to make him stand and fight. Thatís what Iíve been doing my whole career- making great, exciting fights for the fans. Iíll tell you this, in order for him to beat me, there gonna have to carry me out on a stretcher.

JM: What would you like to do after April 28th in terms of your next opponent?

JD: Well Iím already thinking that Iím gonna unify on Saturday night. Then I want the winner of David Diaz and Erik Morales. But if Julio Diaz doesnít have any fights lined up anytime soon, then Iíd fight him too. I just want to unify the division.

JM: Any chance of you moving up to 140lbs. anytime soon?

JD: Well right now, I am very comfortable at 135. Iím at 136 right now and feel real good about my weight, but you know if the right fight came along like Ricky Hatton, Iíd jump up in weight for that. I think that would be a great fight for the fans.

On behalf of I would like to thank Juan for his time in granting us this interview. For the record, Iíve got Diaz unifying Saturday night.

Article posted on 24.04.2007

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