David Diaz: I have not lost to a southpaw

By Alex P. Vidal/ PNS

LAS VEGAS — World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight champion David Diaz said he has no problems fighting southpaws saying “I’ve won against southpaws and I’ve done pretty well against them.”

He was referring to his challenger Manny Pacquiao who is a southpaw like him. A heavy underdog, Diaz appears to be more amazed that he was given the chance to defend his title against Pacquiao than to predict the outcome of the main event rumble dubbed of “Lethal Combination” on June 28 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino here.

“I was not so good in the first fight (under Top Rank) so I thank Top Rank for signing me up (to fight Pacquiao),” Diaz told reporters after the formal press conference for the 12-round championship showdown.

Diaz, a Mexican-American, who represented the United States in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, made special mention of his father who was in attendance. “My dad is Mexico and he taught me how to be a Mexican,” he gushed.

He vowed “never to give up” in his fight with the 29-year-old Filipino ring sensation who is currently the WBC superfeatherweight titlist.

“I will never give up. You hit me and I hit you. I’m still there. I have to go out there and perform,” said Diaz who turned 32 last June 7. “This (duel with Pacquiao) is something that I worked so hard for. I never imagined this and now that I have it, I will not let it slip away.”

Diaz and Pacquiao were presented to reporters in their last press conference at the media center at past 12 o’clock noon June 25.

Mark Taffet, president of HBO, described the Diaz-Pacquiao showdown as part of the “phenomenal line in the summer” of professional boxing championships. Nevada State Athletic Commission state director Keith Kizer also lauded the card for being “spectacular and outstanding.”

Top Rank big boss Bob Arum explained that Pacquiao was given a little time to talk since he is the challenger even as he praised the Filipino boxer for “epitomizing the best that boxing can offer.”

Jim Strickland, Diaz’s trainer, refused to predict the result of the fight but Fred roach, Pacquiao’s foster parent and trainer declared that “Manny’s speed will be too much for Diaz.”

Pacquiao, for his part, said he has nothing more to say with two days left before the fight but “I dedicate this fight to victims of typhoon in the Philippines.”

Also presented in the press conference were fighters in the undercards: Monte Barrett (36-6, 19 KOs) who will battle Tye Fields (40-1, 36 KOs) in a 10-round non-title heavyweight; Mario Santiago (19-1, 14 KOs) who will dispute the World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight crown against champion Steven Luevano (35-1, 15 KOs) for 12 rounds; Humberto Sotto (46-6-2, 27 KOs) who will fight Franciso Lorenzo (32-4, 14 KOs) for interim WBC superfeatherweight title; Alex Ali Baba (25-12-1, 19 KOs) who will tackle Jesus Rojas (11-0, 9 KOs) for 8 rounds in superbantamweight.