In June of last year WBC Lightweight champion David Diaz attempted to defend his belt against the whirlwind attack of Manny Pacquiao, who was moving up in weight in an attempt to win a title in his fifth weight class as a professional. Throughout his career Diaz has always shown immense grit and fortitude but on this night he was ultimately outclassed.
Attacking his Chicago area foe with deadly combinations from all angles, Pacquiao put on a sterling performance, stopping the veteran in the ninth round. It was a savage showcase for Pacquiao and one that surely left Diaz with a newfound respect for his conqueror. Still, despite experiencing Pacquiao’s precise attack in an intimate way, Diaz was unsure of how the Filipino sensation would fare against his following two opponents, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, as he sided with both men beforehand.
As we all know by now, Pacquiao would go on to defeat both De La Hoya and Hatton in impressive and destructive fashion, again elevating his status to another level. It was those two performances in particular that made Diaz come to the conclusion that he was done choosing against Manny, no matter who the opponent was, even if he is to go up against a fellow great like Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is he tentatively scheduled to meet this coming March 13th.
“Like I said I was wrong before when I picked Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton to beat Pacquiao and after that I said that was done picking against Manny,” Diaz said recently. “Whoever he fights I am going to be siding with Manny.”
Such was the case when it was announced that Pacquiao would be locking horns with then WBO Welterweight champion Miguel Cotto this past November 14th. Cotto is a professional through and through and an extremely dangerous threat to any of the world’s top Welterweights but Diaz seemed to see the writing on the wall well beforehand.
“I kind of knew that if Cotto didn’t do anything after the first four or five rounds that he was going to be in trouble,” Diaz reflects. “I was telling everybody that beforehand. After the second knockdown you could tell that Cotto just wasn’t the same.”
Despite not choosing Mayweather over Pacquiao, Diaz still has much respect for Floyd as a fighter. While he may not be on the Floyd bandwagon he can still recognize the skill that Mayweather possesses and the threat that he poses to Pacquiao.
“He’s great, no doubt. He’s like an old time fighter. He’s a master technician and he knows what to do when he wants to do it.”
Sometimes when a fighter suffers a heartbreaking loss there can be a sense of resentment towards the opponent who dealt them the defeat. Not so with Diaz towards Pacquiao, as his modest and classy attitude again shines through when assessing the Filipino’s best attributes.
“He’s improved so much from when I fought him,” Diaz points out. “He really is a versatile fighter. The one thing that has seemed to be constant for him is his speed. From what I can see on television he is getting faster but from fighting him in person I can say that he was the fastest fighter that I ever fought.”
When asked whether or not he would be attending Pacquiao’s birthday bash this year in the Philippines, Diaz graciously had to refuse. Despite making an appearance last year the former champion is a little too wrapped up with things at the moment.
“I can’t make it this year. I have a lot of things to do.”
When Diaz states that he has a lot to do, he is most likely talking about his career as he will be looking for some more meaningful fights in the Lightweight division. Tentative plans for the gracious fighter are to once again get close to Pacquiao, but this time not as an opponent as he’ll be looking to get a slot on the proposed March 13th undercard.
“Hopefully we will get on that card. We’re looking for any opponents. I’m still at Lightweight. I wouldn’t ever go back to 140.”