Todayís Full Coverage of HBO And Main Events Press Conference For Diaz, Cintron, and Juarez Showdown In Houston!
02.06.04 - By Carlos Kalinchuk: Itís official. Today Main Events in association with HBO and Miller Lite hosted a press conference in Houston Texas at the Reliant Arena to kick off their televised fight card on July 17th, which will feature Lightweight Juan Diaz 24-0 (12 KOís) against Lavka Sim 19-3-1 (16 KOís) for the WBA title in the main event. In the co-featured bout of the evening Kermit ďThe KillerĒ Cintron will be facing Teddy Reid in a twelve rounder for the NABF Welterweight Championship. And if that werenít enough, Ricardo ďRockyĒ Juarez 20-0 (14 KOís) will be opening the televised portion of the night facing Zaheer Raheem 25-0 (15 KOís) for the number one IBF Featherweight ranking. The winner of this fight will be in line to face the current Champion Juan Manuel Marquez.
Article posted on 02.06.2004
Those of us who have been accustomed to two featured bouts on HBO will be treated to three televised fights of some of boxings best and youngest rising stars.
Minus Kermit Cintron, both team Juarez and Diaz had an opportunity today to share their thoughts on their upcoming opponents.
When Rocky Juarez took the mic he had this to say; ďFirst of all I want to thank Ray (my trainer) my father and everyone around the world thatís been supporting us. I think Iíve been working long and hard to get this moment in my career and I think that Zaheer Raheem is definitely set for my style. It will be my first time on HBO and my third time in a row in Houston and I want everyone to come out and support Juan and I and itís going to be a great show come July 17th. Thank you.Ē
Juan Diazís co-trainer, Willie Savannah took the mic and he had this to say; ďItís not too common to have HBO have 3 televised fights like this. I just want everyone to come out and support Juan and Rocky because these are going to be tough fights for both. Itís something Juan has been working for since he and his family began working at my gym when he was a seven-year-old little fat kid. So he is really excited about this fight. In fact if Juan is successful, heíll be the youngest current World Champion in the entire world. Those of you who live locally need to realize that if Juan wins, this maybe the last time you are able to see him fight locally ever again. So donít miss this opportunity to come out and see him fight. Thank you.Ē
Juan Diaz added; ďTo be fighting for the WBA Championship of the WorldÖyou donít know how happy this makes me. Itís something Iíve dreamed about since I was a kid. I want everyone in Houston to come out and support Rocky and I because these are both the biggest fights weíve had to date. Iím halfway there to accomplishing my dream and I want all the fans in Houston to come out and support both of us because itís going to be something special and itís something Iíve been working for since I was a kid. Lavka is a tough fighter. He comes forward and he throws punches in bunches so this is going to be an exciting fight and I want to thank the people at HBO and Main Events for making this fight happen. Thank you.Ē
Afterwards I was able to meet with both fighters at length about their thoughts of July 17th and their opponents.
Eastside Boxing: First off youíre on the big stage again here in Houston. What does that mean to you?
Rocky Juarez: Itís always good to fight here in Houston. Some people say itís a jinx to fight here in Houston because four out of the six fights that Iíve had here have gone the distance (here) in Houston. Iíve fought six times here in Houston and Iíve only knocked out 2 of the 6 Iíve faced. Iím always looking to fight here in Houston in front of my fans, friends, and family so Iím looking forward to July 17th and I have a good feeling about this fight. Itís something thatís boosting up my confidence in training and itís something that gives me the motivation to go to the gym. I have a good feeling going into this bout that Iím going to do a good show. I can say it now since my last fights already past, but in my last fight I did feel a sense that something was going to happen and it did. And so for the first time in my career I was knocked on the canvass as a professional since I was 13-14 years old and so itís just a feeling that itís going to be a good show and that Iím going to put on a good performance and come out and get the victory.
Eastside Boxing: Can you elaborate more on a point you made during the press conference of why his style will be better for you?
Rocky Juarez: Well sometimes you see a fighter and you feel it. Having been in the boxing game for a long time, you can see someoneís style sometimes and know that you have an advantage. Fighting a guy like Zaheer Raheem is similar to many of the guys I fought when I was an amateur. I believe he still has an amateur style and itís probably the reason why he keeps that amateur style is because heís real fast and heís counter punching but in the pros, I believe itís more about timing. Other people would say he has the speed on me but I feel I have the timing and I feel timing beats speed any day of the week! I just feel that styles makes fights (like they say). I feel that I can box him if I want, and beat him on the inside if I want. Like I said, once again, that I have fought many fighters with his style and I can beat him because Iíve done it to others with similar styles.
Eastside Boxing: Looking back at your last fight, now that you are a month removed from what happened, what was the biggest lesson you learned in that fight? Sometimes when you ask a fighter immediately after a fight what happened, his thoughts change once theyíve had a chance to digest what happened. So what lesson did you learn?
Rocky Juarez: One of the biggest lessons I learned was to expect anything at anytime in the ring. In the second round (when I went down), I had intentions of picking it up, but before I knew it, I was on the canvass. I kind of put my mind on the offensive instead of keeping it on the offensive and defensive end and I went into round two thinking about what I needed to do and I didnít give a thought to what my opponent would try an do. I think I learned that to always be aware at all times and to keep it up a little bit more for the next fight.
Eastside Boxing: Iíve shot straight with you in the past and I think you showed a lot of intestinal fortitude to come back once you were floored, but as far as a confidence builder, what did it give you moving onto your next fight and next challenge?
Rocky Juarez: I think it was a positive out of a negative. I think since it happened late in my career, people see it now. Where if it happened my first or second fight people would have forgotten. I think that it happened this late in my career (my 20th fight) it takes back peoples thoughts of Rocky Juarez coming out and winning a world title. But I think itís more taking a positive and turning into a negative (after the knockdown) that I was able to come back and keep within my game plan instead of doing the opposite and being nervous about being hit again. I wasnít nervous. I got up and said, ďI lost this round, the next round Iím going back to my planĒ and I feel I beat him seven out of the next eight rounds.
Eastside Boxing: An impressive victory for Rocky Juarez means what?
Rocky Juarez: A knockout. I think if I come out and get a TKO people will stop the talking. The last two fights were difficult fights and were two fights that I had to go the distance. I think by beating a guy like Zaheer Raheem whoís 25-0 and having a mandatory shot at the title people will say, ďRocky is serious.Ē And theyíll forget about the two tough fights Iíve had; especially if I were to come out and get a knock out. Those last two fights were tough but I think that it changes when you have a tougher test. You tell yourself, ďI look forward to coming to the gymĒ and thereís that added stuff you need to keep you hyped and ready to go.
****The following is my post press conference interview with Juan ďEl ToritoĒ DiazÖ
Eastside Boxing: What do you know about your opponent? What do you know about him stylistically?
Juan Diaz: I know heís an aggressive fighter. He comes forward and he likes to fight, so itís going to make for a very interesting fight.
Eastside Boxing: Dude! Youíre sick again! At least itís not the week before the fight like all your other fights (laughs)!
Special Note: I have personally witnessed Diaz with a serious cold the last week and a half in nearly every bout heís been in over the last two years
Juan Diaz: Juan Diaz (Laughs).
Eastside Boxing: Youíre getting it all out of your system now right? (Laughs). Iím tripping out. Every time we talk youíre always sick.
Juan Diaz: I just got sick on Saturday night. Iím starting to think if I donít get sick, thereís something wrong! (Laughs).
Eastside Boxing: (Laughs). Well (for the record) itís not me because Iím always showing up after youíre sick!
Eastside Boxing: Well looking past your sickness again for a bit, obviously a win means a big fight with another Lightweight Champ. Looking forward, (but not too far ahead) what does that mean for you?
Juan Diaz: If I win this fight then Iíll become the world champion. Itís been my dream since I was a little boy. If I win, I would like to unify the division and fight the next Champion. I feel that Iím young right now and I can take anything that comes to me. I can take it. I feel that my bodies young. I can fight today and tomorrow my bodies ready for the next fight.
Eastside Boxing: Is fighting in your hometown for a world title going to give you any additional pressure than before (for yourself and for the people around you)?
Juan Diaz: No; not at all. I feel really relaxed and comfortable. When Showtime had me on their card, there were a lot of people here, shouting and screaming and I felt fine so you can say Iím used to it now. I feel I donít have anything to lose in this fight and itís the Champion who has everything to lose in this fight.
Eastside Boxing: Do you feel youíre at an advantage fighting in your hometown?
Juan Diaz: Yeah but Iím also at a disadvantage because with all the people screaming I could get careless because I might want to throwÖ
Eastside Boxing: Thatís what Dominick Guinn said about his bout in Arkansas.
Juan Diaz: Iím not going to have any distractions but when I hear all the people screaming I might want to throw more punches than I have to and Iím going to have to keep in mind to stay focused.
Eastside Boxing: Do you see this type of fight (I know itís speculative) but do you see this type of fight going to a decision more than likely or do you see this fight being decided within the twelve rounds?
Juan Diaz: I see it going to a decision. This guy comes forward and Iíve seen him get hit and most punches donít even phase him. He just keeps coming forward so I think Iím going to take it by decision.
Eastside Boxing: These guys from Europe sometimes have huge and successful amateur backgrounds. Does he have a big amateur career that you know of? Because some of these European guys have crazy amateur backgrounds!
Juan Diaz: I donítí know anything about his amateur background because heís from over there so I donít know if he had one or two hundred amateur fights (like you said).
Eastside Boxing: If Juan Diaz wins, what does this mean for you?
Juan Diaz: If I win this fight, people will see me as a Champion but I want to be a great world Champion.
Eastside Boxing: Do you feel thereís too much pressure to look beyond? Like by people out of boxing telling you, ďHey, I canít wait until you fight Castillo!Ē
Juan Diaz: Itís a little hard because theyíll tell me about him and Morales and they think that Iím going to win this fight easy, and it makes me think that Iím going to win easy but thatís not the way to think because heís a champion. Human nature makes it hard for me not to look ahead.
Eastside Boxing: Is it the coaching from Willie Savannah and Ronnie Shields where theyíre always reminding you whatís in front of you first?
Juan Diaz: Yeah. Itís always like that. Theyíll always remind what I have in front of me first. They have so much confidence in me that if I do what they tell me, they feel Iím going to win (and that gives me confidence).
Eastside Boxing: And that reassures you that are coming back down to earth from the people that are going to tell you, ďYouíre going to walk through this guy!Ē
Juan Diaz: Right. Right. I know every day that when I get in the ring that they tell me you canít think of anyone else right now.
Eastside Boxing: Has there been any talk of Main Events separating you and Rocky at this point?
Juan Diaz: There hasnít been any talk lately. I know that if he doesnít fight when I fight, Iím not going to draw the same amount of people that I would if I was here. When his fan base comes, they cheer for him but they also cheer for me! So if I fight separately, they might not want to just come and see me fight; so we both help each other.
Eastside Boxing: When are you going to start sparring?
Juan Diaz: Right now Iím just working on the pads and in about a week Iíll start sparring.
Eastside Boxing: Since Bryan Caldwell (Juanís strength coach) started working with you do you feel stronger than you did a year ago?
Juan Diaz: I feel that Iím stronger that I was a year ago. I feel that since I started working with him, heís got me swimming and lifting weights and itís given me a lot of strength and conditioning.
Eastside Boxing: Any last closing comments?
Juan Diaz: I want to invite all the fans to come out. Main Events has three undefeated fighters and I donít think itís going to get any better than this.
Eastside Boxing: Good luck you bro?
Juan Diaz: Thanks.
Tickets are very affordably priced at $150, $50, and $25 so if you have a chance to go to these fights, donít miss out!
Carlos ďStiff-jabĒ Kalinchuk
Contributing Writer & Photographer
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