Juan Diaz Enters Bout Without Head Trainer

10.10.07 - By Matthew Hurley: This Saturday night when Juan Diaz takes on Julio Diaz in a lightweight unification match up he will be without longtime trainer Ronnie Shields. Shields is already in Russia with Evander Holyfield, preparing the aging legend for his bout against World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion Sultan Ibragimov..

Diaz maintains that the situation is not causing him much concern despite the fact that Shields has been his head trainer for the majority of his career. Assistant trainer Derwin Richards has taken over for Shields and “The Baby Bull” seems pleased heading into Saturday’s showdown. Still, fighters, like all athletes, have tremendous egos – even if all fighters don’t wear that ego like a badge of honor as say Floyd Mayweather does. An ego is necessary to simply climb into the ring. A fighter has to believe that he’s not only good enough and tough enough to compete but that he can win.

Otherwise he will quickly be looking for another profession. And anyone with a big ego can easily feel slighted because an egocentric person believes, to some degree, that the world revolves around him.

A perfect recent example of this very situation is when Manny Pacquiao was getting ready to set up training camp for his fight with Jorge Solis. His trainer Freddie Roach notified Pacquiao that he would be traveling to Puerto Rico to train Oscar De La Hoya for his fight with Floyd Mayweather. Despite the fact that both fighter and trainer insisted that there was no rift between the two there have been lingering doubts as to that notion. Pacquiao performed below par against Solis and then drove Roach to distraction when the two regrouped to train for the rematch with Marco Antonio Barrera. Pacquiao even seemed to be ignoring Roach in the corner during the Barrera fight, laughing and gesturing to people in the audience while his befuddled trainer tried to get his attention. It almost looked like a petulant child seeing how much he could get away with under the eye of a strict parent. Things changed in the eleventh when Barrera fouled Pacquiao. In the corner between rounds the “Pac Man” focused on his trainer as he tried to clear his head, but his message to Roach had been sent and Roach, in turn, let Manny know that he would not be bullied. The two seem OK now, but the training camp building up to the Barrera fight was filled with tension.

And yet trainers need to make money too. Roach could obviously make way more money training De La Hoya then he could Pacquiao, and Pacquioa was fighting a lesser opponent. Still, hurt feelings were there and they lingered right up to the opening bell of the Barrera fight.

Ronnie Shields is in the same position Roach found himself in. He can make more money with Holyfield than he can with Diaz. And he, like the rest of us, needs the money. But will it cause a rift between fighter and trainer? There have been some rumblings that Shields may not return to the corner of Diaz. Or perhaps “The Baby Bull” will do exactly what Pacquiao did, act out and then calm down and get back to business. Regardless, Shields won’t be in the corner this Saturday and that may prove to be a big factor in the fight.

Article posted on 11.10.2007

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