The highly anticipated WBA title rematch between Houston’s Juan Diaz and former titleholder and mandatory opponent Lakva Sim of Mongolia has been postponed due to injury suffered by Sim while in training. Diaz faces a long period of inactivity, having only defended his title once in ’05, versus Billy Irwin in January, and fought a 10 rounder versus Arthur Cruz in July. Sim, coming off a brutal victory over Ebo Elder, was reportedly cut over his eye during sparring with trainer Joe Goosen. Eerily reminiscent, Diaz-Elder was postponed last April when Juan suffered the same injury.
Many options are being discussed for Diaz but nothing is definite as of yet. “It’s a situation where Juan hasn’t fought for so long, and it’s frustrating, says Diaz’s manager Willie Savanah.” Carl Moretti of Main Events is pursuing the WBA to find if Diaz can take a fight with or without the title on the line while awaiting the mandatory defense, which will probably be in February. Savanah suggests that a long wait might produce a purse bid, since Diaz accepted short money to fight on the Dan Goosen promoted card so they could capitalize on the December 1st fight date and be able to move on quickly with other opportunities. A 10 round non-title fight is possible, possibly returning to Coushatta casino, where younger brother Jose Diaz and cousin Genaro Alarcon are featured attractions.
Savanah prefers an alternate title defense and sees a very good match up available on the calendar. “Javier Jauregui’s got a fight in Austin on the 15th. I told Carl to reach out to GoldenBoy and see if they’d be interested in fighting for Juan’s title. It’d be a damn good fight and a heckuva draw from San Antonio and from Houston! And I don’t see how they can’t accept this fight.”
When Diaz withdrew from the Elder fight, he not only lost opportunities; he suffered a lot of criticism for pulling out so close to the fight date. Savanah gives Sim the benefit of the doubt saying he understands but claims, “If Juan had been cut 4 weeks before the Elder fight, we woulda still fought. But I’m assuming that Sim’s cut is much worse than what we had.” Diaz, known for his ultra dedication and clean image, never gets out of shape and trains continuously between fights, while maintaining an active course load at the University of Houston. The long period of fight inactivity wears on the busy fighter. “You know what,” Savanah confides, “Juan came to me and asked me if he could take a part-time job! Not for the money, but just to stay busy. He knows that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
“What can boxingtalk.com write about Juan? He’s squeaky clean. Maybe if he was gangsta or drunk, or a wifebeater, then he’d be well known,” attests Savanah. Continuing, “You watch, about age 30, 32, Juan’s gonna be mayor of Houston. Then after about 8 years, Governor of Texas. And I told him, I’m not gonna be satisfied until I have to call him, “Mr. President”! And you know what Juan replies? He says, “yeah and you’ll say, Mr. President, keep your hands up!” I tell you what tho, Juan’s a person that comes along once in a lifetime, and deserves to be in the spotlight, yet he’s been pushed aside.” Diaz’s contract runs thru August of 2006.
The inactivity isn’t breeding negativity though. “The one salvation is every month that goes by, you can see Juan’s body maturing, he’s getting harder and stronger. If these guys wanna challenge Juan, they better do it now, he’s only getting better.” The Diaz camp isn’t afraid of any challenge and wants to fight the top guys in the world. “Carl asked me who we want to fight, and I said, we’ll fight Castillo, and he said REALLY??. Juan came to me and said, “I can beat Castillo.” I said Castillo, Morales, Barerra, Jesus Chavez.” They feel that the perfect match up and will go up in weight to fight Ricky Hatton, even in the UK. “Give Juan another year and he’s going to be in the uppermost level of fighters. He came straight out of Juniors, he didn’t have true amateur experience. He sparred as a kid with Chavez, Juan Lazcano, Zab Judah, and held his own and able to hold his own then. Well now he’s improving every day here in the gym and everybody better watch out.”