Suico Will Face a “Baby Bull” Fresher and Quicker Than Jauregui
By Ron Galarpe
11 Jul 2006
Randy “Kamaong Bato” Suico will finally get his chance for a world title as he battles Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz on July 15 at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Suico-Diaz WBA Lightweight title bout is the chief undercard of the Mosley-Vargas II main attraction promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and will be shown on PPV by HBO.
With his biggest exposure yet right at the heart of Las Vegas, the Mecca of boxing, on US primetime via PPV, no one can get excited and anxious than Suico himself who may look at the new opportunity as a new lease in life after what he can call a career-threatening setbacks.
The heavy-fisted Suico was badly frustrated when he lost a controversial decision to Mzonke Fana in May 2004. The loss prevented him to land a title fight for the WBC super featherweight crown. Sixteen months later, Suico tried to forget the frustration from the Fana experience and went on to fight the aging but wily Mexican Javier Jauregui. But still, fate would not smile on Suico as he again lost another important fight at the hands of the Mexican via majority decision. Those two setbacks almost prompted Suico to hang up his gloves and give up his career for good. However, Joe Koizumi would not want to let go the jewel he found on Suico and encouraged him to stay in the ring. Koizumi allowed Suico to defend his OPBF 130-pound belt for the last time in February of this year but it has been pre-planned that Suico would move to the lightweight ranks where Koizumi believes the Cebuano puncher would have a better chance to excel. The rest is history and without any official fight at his newfound weight, Suico will right away be tested at 136 against current WBA champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz.
It is quite surprising yet very fortunate for Suico fighting for a WBA belt considering that this coming championship bout for him is only his first fight at lightweight. Indeed, it is a welcome news for us Filipinos and a big break for Suico. However, no matter how we can get excited for Suico getting that long-dreamed major title belt, he is facing an exceptional boxer-puncher who is considered by experts as a future star.
Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz was born in Houston and just like any other boxer that came from the state of Texas, the “Baby Bull” is a full-blooded Mexican. One remarkable feat on Diaz’s career was when he snatched the title from Lakva Sim for the WBA lightweight belt in 2004 at the age of 20 years and 10 months, that made him the youngest world lightweight champ since the inception of the alphabet soups in the sport of boxing. But if the pre-ABC organizations era is concerned, Diaz would only come second to Latin-American Mando Ramos as the youngest lightweight champion to date who captured the crown in 1969 at the age of 20 years and 3 months.
Diaz is regarded a born fighter by some who knows him due to his decorated amateur career. During his amateur days, the ‘Baby Bull’ compiled an astounding record of 105-5. In his resume are three national silver titles, three national PAL titles, two Mexican youth titles, won the junior championship in Puebla, Mexico and in 1999, captured the Mexican Open National Championships. His capture of the Mexican Open in 1999 honoured him as the “Outstanding Boxer” of the meet and automatically earned him a slot for the Mexican squad that would compete in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. But Diaz had his share of early heartbreaks in the sport, he was declared ineligible by the Olympic committee to compete due to his age that was three months short of the required minimum. Diaz would not wait for the 2004 Olympics and decided to let go of his dream as an Olympian. He turned pro in 2000 at the age of 17 and in his first fight, knocked out Rafael Ortiz in the first round. Diaz’ manager and trainer Willie Savannah believed that Diaz would have been the most decorated U.S. amateur fighter in history if he decided to wait for the 2004 Olympics.
People who know Diaz quite well believe the young champion would surely be a bigtime boxer in the future as the boy, with his in-born character and admirable attitude rarely seen on an athelete, is determined to finish his studies while at the top of his career. Diaz actually finished his high school studies in 2001 and graduated fourth in his class with a GPA of 3.8. Currently, he is now on his sophomore year working on his B.A. at the University of Houston in the hopes of attending law school. Diaz was quoted as saying “Nobody in my family ever went past high school, so I want to be the first. Plus, you will never know what will happen in boxing, so I want something to fall back on”.
Though still at a teen-aged level of youth in the ring, Diaz showed remarkable strength and courage as a boxer that is probably just at par with the veterans in the sport. But no matter how he hides his youth with his toughness, he cannot deny he is still a young man with a young heart. Diaz burst into tears after a fight with Ubaldo Hernandez in 2001, who was 6 years his senior. Diaz survived a knockdown and a cut from a very tough and rugged fight on his way to a hard earned split decision victory. After the match, Diaz who was just nearing 18 in that fight became emotional and bewildered in seeing himself bloodied and a bit mentally and physically drained from the gruelling battle.
Fast-forward, Diaz is now 21 and is the reigning WBA lightweight champion with an unbeaten mark of 29-0 (14 KO’s). And though he has impressed some of the most discriminating boxing experts in the world, he is still not considered for primetime due to the belief that he has not faced any true elite fighter. Diaz showed resilience and poise to defy the more experienced 32-year old champion Lakva Sim, whose 10-year ring career may have proved no match to the youthful but ferocious Mexican. Soon after, Diaz defended his belt against a pair of aging fighters. He mauled 32-year old former two-time champion Julien Lorcy and dominated 37-year old Billy Irwin. Diaz last defense against fellow undefeated fighter Jose Miguel Cotto was the only one considered as the peak fighter whom Diaz conquered. Though the Cotto conquest may have not gained enough favourable appraisal, it was surely a path to the right direction to gain recognition.
Former NABF welterweight champion and Diaz trainer Ronnie Shields attributed the reason on Diaz’ slow progress for marketability to promotional outfit Main Events, which handle Diaz’s career. In an interview conducted by Sergio Martinez of Saddoboxing.com, Shields said that Diaz is not getting the right exposure from Main Events and would rather prioritised fighters like Rocky Juarez, Panchito Bojado and Kermit Cintron that he said is questionable considering that Diaz is the only legitimate champion among the aforementioned boxers. Shields feels that Diaz, although still young, is already an elite fighter and “is ready for all the top guys out there. He is ready for Castillo, Corrales, Morales, Barrera and the rest out there. It is just a matter of making those fights and his promoter must step up”! Ronnie Shields should know his words, as he has experienced handling such stalwarts like Jesus “El Matador” Chavez, Evander Holyfield, “Jesse James” Leija, Raul “El Diamante” Marquez, David Tua and even Mike Tyson.
Juan ‘Baby Bull” Diaz has been described as quick for his size with fast hands and just like any Mexican warrior in the ring, loves to fight toe-to-toe to dominate his opponent. And while he seemed to slug it out in most of his fights, he was admired for his way of outboxing his opponent by using his fast hands and movements before pouring on the heat for a toe-to-toe battle. He simply would mix it up and dominates when the right time comes. Diaz’ skills with his quickness and fast hands compensate for his lack of one-punch power, in his young career, he went the distance 15 times out of his 29 victories. The number of reaching the distance can be considered a high percentage against the number of victories but it is a testimony that his skills brought him to countless lopsided decision victories.
Before the Cotto fight, respected boxing critic Graham Houston predicted a Diaz victory over Cotto as he believed the young man’s quick hands, foot movement, exceptional left jab and high-punch output can offset the power of the Puerto Rican. And so Diaz dominated the unbeaten Cotto with a lopsided 116-112, 117-111, and 118-110 score.
After a fast-paced, high action domination of Diaz on Lakva Sim, colourful HBO analyst Larry Merchant said, “I think Diaz stole the show, he is a potential star, with his style, personality and background”.
John Lopez of The Houston Chornicle added, “From here, Diaz will improve and we should all latch and enjoy the ride. True champions do not come often”.
Trainer Ronnie Shields said, “Diaz with his youth is an all-action fighter, very excitng and is willing to fight anyone”.
Boxing writer Sergio Martinez added, “I do not know if Diaz is a great fighter, but I will tell you this, with his stand inside, trade heavy leather, and all action style, you can bet that I cannot wait to find out”.
Anyone who understands boxing could readily see a tall order for Suico upsetting Diaz. The consensus is that if Suico cannot dominate an aging Javier Jauregui who is considered a lesser fighter, what more can he do against the WBA champ who is quicker and fresher than Jauregui? Maybe we can say that Diaz is tailor-fit for Suico, as the champion loves to mix it up, but let us not forget that Lakva Sim and Jose Migue Cotto, two heavy-handed bombers have engaged Diaz into a toe-to-toe fight but were outpointed just the same when Diaz adjusted with his quickness and fast hands. Furthermore, Diaz have been more exposed to tougher competitions while Suico had only Jauregui in his resume that he even failed to beat. It is also worthy to note that Suico will be fighting on a new weight. He is proven susceptible to fighters quicker than him at 130 and the scare is that he could be slower at 136.
Let us be reminded that Suico was long before training for Silverio Ortiz until the Diaz offer came, this should give us an idea if Suico had enough time to study Diaz’ fighting style. I would not doubt if Suico is in his peak condition, so I guess he is ready, but is he prepared for anything against Diaz? There is a difference between readiness and preparedness. Manny Pacquiao was not only ready for Morales he was deeply prepared in their second fight.
But before giving up everything on Suico, Diaz for the record has been floored twice in his career, he was knocked down by Ubaldo Hernandez and Eleazer Contreras. Neither seriously hurt Diaz but those events point to the fact that Diaz can be floored and all we need is one big right hook from Suico.
Juanito Ablaca is the long-time chief trainer of Suico but Ablaca himself has not produced a champion under his tutelage since the days of his former protege Joma Gamboa. Local boys Rolly Lunas, Wyndell Janiola, and Roger Galicia were once seen as promising fighters under Ablaca’s tutelage but the three are now in danger of becoming journeymen campaigners. Against Jauregui, Suico seemed not prepared to offset the quickness of the Mexican, which something that should have been ironed out in the gym. Most of the time, Suico was seen slow even against fellow Asian fighters who he devastatingly knocked out. This is not to dismiss Ablaca but probably, past results are enough for him to further wake up.
However, I believe Joe Koizumi is the real culprit on Suico’s slow progress. I admire Koizumi’s connections in boxing. He made the miracle of giving Suico the break for this fight with Diaz but I have said several times that Koizumi would not invest honestly on Suico. While Gorres, Bautista and company trains under Freddie Roach, Suico remains at the back stage training in the Philippines. It is a pity because Suico was the first one seen as the hope of Philippine boxing way ahead than these boxers. He was even recognized ahead of Manny Pacquiao in the early days. Now, even the once considered mediocre fighter Bobby Pacquiao looked more of a world-beater than him. The idea is not because Roach is better than his Filipino counterparts, the exposure under Freddie Roach is what we are after that would surely improve Suico as a fighter. The loss to Jauregui I thought was a wake up call, but nothing has changed from the camp of Suico. I just hope now that Ablaca learned from the past and has offered some new dimension to Suico’s fight game.
The order of battle for Suico is to pin Diaz on the ropes or forced him into a toe-to-toe battle. Suico must have improved quickness to follow Diaz wherever he go and an effective defense to avoid getting dominated when Diaz turns to his fast hands and left jabs. There is no doubt Suico will be outworked by Diaz but he must never stop to look for the opportunity to hurt the Mexican in a hope to knock him out for good. I feel that Diaz has not faced a strong puncher in the calibre of Suico but the problem is Diaz’s quickness. And the only way for Suico to trap Diaz into his own game is to hurt him. However, we need a more mobile Suico to catch Diaz with that deadly right hook.
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