Freitas-Diaz Conference Call Transcript

20.04.07 - FRED STERNBURG: We're less than 10 days away and with a combined record of 69 victories, one loss, and 47 knockouts, next Saturday's unification fight between lightweight champions, Acelino Freitas and Juan Diaz, has the potential of being the division's biggest title unification fight since Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo first clashed almost two years ago. In fact the two-year anniversary of that fight is May 7th..

Freitas vs. Diaz headlines FightCentennial, the landmark 100th professional boxing card hosted by Foxwood's Resort Casino. It will going to be televised live on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” at 10:00 p.m. ET and on delay to the West Coast at 10:00 p.m. PT.

Juan, how is it going down there? What are your feelings as we get closer to this big title fight for you?

JUAN DIAZ: It's going great. You know, this has been one of my best training camps that I've had in a while. All my training camps are good, but I think this one has been the best because it's so much more exciting to be fighting a guy like Acelino Freitas. It makes me train that much harder and just come in the gym every day motivated to work and put everything in the gym.

FRED STERNBURG: Ronnie, I know you're kind of sweating it down there in Houston and working very hard. How has Juan evolved as a champion from the time he's won the title through I think he said five or six title defenses already, and how do you see his progress as he heads into probably his biggest if not his most dangerous fight yet?

RONNIE SHIELDS: Juan is a hard worker so I really don't worry about who he fights. The most important thing of course is to keep training hard and realize that everybody is after him because he is champion of the world.

It's a shame that now he's just really getting a big shot at fighting one of the big names in the division. He's wanted to fight all of those world champions, but when it comes to putting their name on the dotted line, nobody wants to do it.

FRED STERNBURG: What are your biggest concerns in terms of what Freitas brings into this fight against Juan?

RONNIE SHIELDS: I don't have a big concern about Freitas in honesty. He's a guy, sometimes he likes to run, sometimes he'll fight. The thing about Juan, he's been trained to do both. So, it's going to be a wait and see thing.

I don't want to give up anything and I'm sure they're not going to give up anything on the phone, but I really don't have any concerns about Freitas. We both know that Freitas is a really good fighter and so is Juan, so this is what boxing is all about. The best should have to fight the best, and this is why Juan is in this fight.

PATRICK KELLEY, FIGHTNEWS.COM: Juan, what I wanted to ask you is following the loss at Corrales which, you know, Freitas obviously refused to continue any longer.

Many refer to that as quitting and he had a momentary retirement there. Do you feel that Freitas’ heart isn't any longer in the sport and that right now he might be ripe for the picking?

JUAN DIAZ: He is a great champion and I think that retirement maybe at the time of the Corrales fight, you know, his heart may not have been in that fight or in boxing at that time.

And I think that retirement gave him a chance to think about what he really wanted to do and I think that he decided that he can't stay away from boxing and that this is what he does and who he is. So, I trained for Freitas, who is undefeated. The guy you saw knock out all those guys in his early career, that's who I trained for. I'm not concerning myself with his last fight as much as the other fights when he just started.

KEVIN IOLE, LAS VEGAS REVIEW: Ronnie, how much of an advantage do you think it is for Juan, given Popo's inactivity? He fought one fight in the last year and then in two years he only had two fights.

He fought Francisco Salazar in July of '06 and only went one round, so do you think in any way that that is an advantage to Juan because he's been busy?

RONNIE SHIELDS: I think it's. It's a minor advantage if anything. I just think that being active for Juan is good because he's a young fighter. I don't think it affects all the fighters as much as it does a 24-year-old.

I think the rest probably helped Freitas if anything, so you know, Juan is going to have to build his (INAUDIBLE).

KEVIN IOLE: And then secondly, Ronnie, can you just describe from your vantage point the evolution of Juan from when you brought him into the gym as what, 16 years old I guess, now how he is changed and how he has gotten better?

RONNIE SHIELDS: When I first met Juan and when he first turned pro, he was a guy that always put a lot of pressure on you and always dug deep, and just went to the body. Then, I told him his career would really last a lot longer if he added the jab to it and he did add the jab to it.

Now, he's getting a lot stronger and he's a lot stronger than he was -- even a year ago. I mean, you've (ph) really been good to him, and you know, the good thing about it is (INAUDIBLE) and I can feel more power when I'm doing the pads with him. He is much stronger then he was a year ago.

DAN RAFAEL, ESPN.COM: Hey Juan, you've made several title defenses at this stage of your career, although as Ronnie just pointed out, you're still a very young fighter. How much have you been anxious over the last few years, since you've had a title, to really test yourself against a top level lightweight?

I mean, you fought some good guys, but maybe not the ‘A’ level, elite guys or the other champions. How important is that for you?

JUAN DIAZ: At the age of 20, when I became a world champion, the next morning I told my manager, Willie Savannah, I said, ‘look, I want to fight the best guys. Put me in there with the other champions,’ but that's where the management comes in and he takes care of that, so he said, ‘no, no, you know, you became champion.

‘That's what you wanted. Let's hold off a little bit and wait and see what happens,’ so he knows. He brought up, you know, Ronnie Shield, and a lot of other top contenders, professionals, and he knows how to do -- he knows the game. I was a little upset at first, but I knew that with time, my opportunity would come.

I really don't think that Acelino Freitas at this point is going to be the hardest fight of my career. I'm going to have to see that after the 28th, then I'm going to make that judgment, but right now, every fighter that I step in the ring that has two gloves, even if the guy is 0 and 30, knocked out 29 times, he's still a dangerous guy when he puts those gloves on.

DAN RAFAEL: Well, if you don't think he's the most dangerous opponent, can you tell me who you think has been so far?

JUAN DIAZ: So far, at this point in my career, the most dangerous and hardest fight in my career was, I believe it was my 12th fight, a guy by the name of Ubaldo Hernandez. I was 18 years old. I got knocked down.

I got cut, I got hit low, you know, something I had never experienced in my life, and to this point, I've been knocked down before in another fight, so I’ve got that experience of being knocked down, being cut and I can deal with those things now.

DAN RAFAEL: Let me ask one more question, Juan, about that. You said you were a little frustrated when you had first won your title about, taking the time to get to the point where Willie and Ronnie and everybody were comfortable with putting you into a fight with a big name opponent.

I know you thought at age 20 that you were ready. Looking back, do you feel as though you were really ready at age 20, or now you really are ready at age 24?

JUAN DIAZ: Yes. I don't think at that point I was ready. I think at that point me being a fighter, we think that we can take on the world and beat everybody, but now I see myself a lot stronger, a lot faster than I was, when I was 20.

Sure, at that time, I beat a seasoned 33-year-old fighter, but at the same time I had a great night and now, three years later, I think that I'm a lot more mature and my body is a lot stronger.

DAN RAFAEL: How close until graduation are you at this point?

JUAN DIAZ: I'm about a year and a half away from graduating.

DAN RAFAEL: OK. Good luck to you, Juan. I appreciate it.

JOHN WHISLER, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS: Hey Juan, you were with Main Events and then you had agreed to sign with Golden Boy I think and then left at the 11th hour to sign with Don King, and you were roundly criticized by some people for that. Did that bother you that you received that kind of criticism?

JUAN DIAZ: At that point, it didn't really bother me because at the beginning, it did a little bit, but then I got over it because we're in the business where us fighters don't last that long. We have a couple of great years and then there comes another top contender, younger, stronger, faster, who’s going to take our place and replace us.

So, we've got to get whatever we can out of boxing and as much as we can while we can. We can't sit around -- because we say something, you know, unless it's signed and it's done, then obviously, you can't go back. But when you're negotiating, things can happen and tables can turn very, very quickly

JORGE PEREZ, EL NUEVO DIA: I wanted to ask you to clarify your situation with WBA? I understand that they will allow you to have this fight with Freitas as long as your next title defense, if you win, you fight the winner of Jose Miguel Cotto and Prawet Singwancha.

Is that your plan right now or are you going to wait until the Freitas fight to decide what your next step will be?

JUAN DIAZ: Well, right now, I'm concentrating on next week, next Saturday on Freitas. That's my biggest challenge right now. And from what I understand is that the winner out of Saturday night, out of the fight on the 28th, is going to become a WBA super champion.

So that means that we will not have to defend -- either him or I will not have to defend the WBA belt by becoming a super champion.

JORGE PEREZ: OK. That's what I understand also. You will have extra time at being a super champion to make your mandatory title defense

JUAN DIAZ: Yes, yes.

TOM STEWART, BANGOR DAILY NEWS: Juan, everyone knows that you're now being promoted by Don King, and a lot of people either love or hate Don King.

Could you tell us a little bit about that relationship and how that's going and kind of how you feel about, being with Don King now?

JUAN DIAZ: Well, Don King -- a lot of people say a lot of negative things about him, but he's a businessman and every businessman has do their job and to do what's best for them and their company.

And so far, we've had a pretty good relationship. I had a fight with him last November and in my second fight, I'm already unifying the title, so, it's showing me that he's willing to work with me and take me to the top as long as I do my part and keep winning.

So, so far, it's been a real good relationship that we've had with each other.

DAVID AVILA, RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE: My question for Acelino is why did he pick Juan Diaz for his fight? There are other champions. Why did he pick Juan?


OSCAR SUAREZ: Well, basically, he believed that Juan is one of the best in the division. He said he's better than Casamayor so that's why he decided not to look that way. Acelino said that ‘right after me, he's the best in the world.’

DAVID AVILA: And my last question is what is it about Juan Diaz that makes him feel that he's the best in the world? What things does he do right or what things does he do in the ring that makes him stand out?


OSCAR SUAREZ: Juan Diaz right now has been an invisible champion. You have to respect him for that, you know, (INAUDIBLE) WBA. So merely (INAUDIBLE), I've tried to be there and haven't made it, so he's there, he's been there.

Is he an (INAUDIBLE) fighters in his career and he is the world champion now and he is in my eyes right now the man to beat to be the best.




OSCAR SUAREZ: Acelino said he's liking it down here in Puerto Rico. The training is great. He's loving it here, you know, the training here is excellent. The sparring partners are at their best.

This is the second time Popo has come to Puerto Rico and he said he loves it. He says that every sparring session here is a fight, is another fight, so that's what he needs -- he needs to get ready for his upcoming fight and that's why he loves it.

GEORGE PEREZ: Acelino or Oscar, there was a rumor down here in Puerto Rico that he may be sparring with Shane Mosey I guess, or even De La Hoya. Did that happen or is that going to happen?

OSCAR SUAREZ: Well, the plan was to spar with Boohoo (ph), but it never happened because, you know, they never called me. But right now, Acelino is getting ready with Jose (INAUDIBLE) (INAUDIBLE), among other fighters over here from the City of Dorado, who you already know.

Like Rocky Martinez, who is an excellent fighter..

OSCAR SUAREZ: So we've got great sparring partners here, with the qualities of styles that won, it might be bringing the night (INAUDIBLE).

KARL FREITAG, FIGHTNEWS.COM: I wanted to ask Acekino if he could comment a little bit on his decision to retire and then his decision to come back? And also, what his long-term prospects are now in boxing?


OSCAR SUAREZ: Basically, it was more to take a little rest.

KARL FREITAG: Is he -- is he going to be back long term now? Is he planning to continue fighting for years and years or what are his long-term plans?


OSCAR SUAREZ: Basically his dream is to try to unify all the titles. Right now, he's more focusing on Mr. Diaz, which everybody knows is one of his toughest fights.

KARL FREITAG: Does he feel that he's still at his peak physically or does he feel like he's getting a little older and where's his mind at there?


OSCAR SUAREZ: He doesn't feel old. He's very young. If you compare an Acelino Freitas with Bernard Hopkins or (INAUDIBLE), no disrespect to them, you know, again, in age and they are great champions.

They still are excellent champions and so is Acelino. He is more mature. Basically, that's how you could put it. And on the 28th, he'll show the world how young he still is.

DAN RAFAEL: Hello Oscar and Popo. Oscar, would you ask Acelino to talk about how he believes that the layoff will help him?


OSCAR SUAREZ: It hasn't affected him at all because Acelino has got three gyms in Brazil and he's constantly in the gyms.

And knowing that he was going to face one of the top fighters, he was always staying active in his gyms, and he says that the most important thing here is this, that he knows that this is not just a fight between the guys (INAUDIBLE), but it's a fight between two guys who are going to be thinking a lot.

So it's not going to affect him at all because he already programmed himself to become the undisputed lightweight champion of the world and of course, he's training hard for it. And he's going to show that they haven't affected him at all.

DAN RAFAEL: Oscar, would you ask him just one more question for me? It's one thing to take a year layoff and come back and fight, you know, a lesser opponent.

Obviously, Juan Diaz is a tremendous young fighter, an undefeated champion, who throws with such a volume of punches during his fights, how does Acelino go about getting ready to face a fighter that's going to probably throw more punches at him than he's seen in a long time, certainly more than what Zahir Rahim threw against him?



OSCAR SUAREZ: This is the fight that we've been waiting for, for the longest, so we could show our quality…


OSCAR SUAREZ: Most of the fighters that we have faced before, basically, they just didn't have the qualities that Juan Diaz has got -- that quickness (ph) and being consistent. So those guys that I faced before, they were more focused in the punching power that they possessed and we beat those guys.

So right now, this is the quality opponent we like to fight, guys that come forward, and we're going to (INAUDIBLE) a guy with the power that Acelino faces (INAUDIBLE).





OSCAR SUAREZ: The question was that Acelino, since you move up in weight, you only have knocked out one of your opponents, the weight division that you put more weight on? And Acelino responded with, no, basically if you see my record, my first 15 fights were basically in the lightweight division and I knocked them all out.

I am focusing more into doing what I have to do and not knocking people out. Just like he mentioned before, this is more about mind, not about power. Power is natural, you know, and (INAUDIBLE).

EDDIE GOLDMAN, SECONDS OUT RADIO: I first have a question for Ronnie, What kind of Freitas do you expect to come out because he's gone through some changes in his career, become more of a boxer puncher, but given one style, what do you expect him to bring mainly?

RONNIE SHIELDS: I really don't know and I really have no clue how he's going to come out and it doesn't make a difference. Juan is trained both ways, so it doesn't really make a difference. I expect him to come out and test a young guy because Juan is a lot younger than he is. He feels he is a stronger fighter, so why not come out and try to test him?

EDDIE GOLDMAN: How do you train not knowing which Freitas to expect? Does that affect the training?

RONNIE SHIELDS: It's not hard, it's not hard. Juan Diaz is a hard worker, so it doesn't take me much -- (INAUDIBLE), it doesn't take much for me to show him different things, and (INAUDIBLE), can just pick it up.

He has to think fast, think quick, and when the situation changes, then he has to adapt to whatever Freitas is going to do, and that's what we're working on

RONNIE SHIELDS: Oscar, how have you adjusted Acelino's training specifically to meet Juan, knowing that he does throw a lot of punches and he is a very aggressive fighter?

OSCAR SUAREZ: Like Ronnie said before, a lot of people are expecting Acelino to come forward and (INAUDIBLE) to come and test it with a young kid. I know that Juan has got a lot of talent.

He's not just a bully like people will picture him to be, but a very good quality boxer, (INAUDIBLE) puncher. I mentioned before about this fight is going to be more mind concentration -- the two best in the division to make the best fight.

But obviously, the Mexican is going to come, Juan Diaz, (INAUDIBLE) to face the true Mexican that's going to come. You know, in some rounds, he's going to come, and then you guys are going to see -- and that's going to answer all your questions.

TOM STEWART: This question is for Acelino. Basically you've been fighting at 130 or 135 pounds for your entire career. Do you foresee yourself moving above 135?



OSCAR SUAREZ: Not at all. He will, like he said before, unify all the titles under 135.

PATRICK KELLEY: Oscar, have you (INAUDIBLE) noticed any difference and maybe even an increase in his passion and determination to prove those skeptics wrong?

OSCAR SUAREZ: Acelino has become a more mature fighter, you know, and again, he does show me that he’s got a dream. This is what he wants to fulfill. Acelino lives well. Thank God. He has invested money wisely and he could retire right now and his family would be set.

But this is what he likes to do and he's dreaming to try to get all the titles together, and I believe a lot in my fighter and I believe that Acelino will do it.

FRED STERNBURG: I'll just let the last words come from the fighters themselves. Juan, any last words for the media before we break off the call?

JUAN DIAZ: Yes, sir. I want the media to print out or post in this interview that I want to thank all my friends who have been supporting me throughout all these years, and we're finally here to prove to the world that I am one of the best world champions and to prove it to all those people who didn't believe in me.

For example, when I was fighting on other networks at an earlier stage, I have -- I would have commentator saying, ‘oh, no, I don't think he's ever going to be a world champion.

‘I think he will put up great fights, but never be to that superstar status.’ On Saturday, the 28th, I'm going to prove to all those skeptics and all those people who didn't believe in me. I also want to thank all the fans who did believe in me, believed in Juan “The Baby Bull” Diaz.


OSCAR SUAREZ: Acelino wants to thank everybody, all the media here, and again, he says, on the 28th, he is going to show he will win another world title, for the fifth time, he's going to become a world champion again because that's destiny. That's how God wants it for me, and that's how it's going to be. Nothing is going to change it

He's got a dream and he's going to fulfill it, he says. Again, one more time, he will recapture his fifth world title on the 28th.

Article posted on 21.04.2007

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