Sunday, October 4, 2009

Diaz Tries to Make Sense of Malignaggi Mess

Juan Diaz has been the target of nasty insults from Paulie Malignaggi ever since the pair engaged in a close fight - which Diaz won.

Juan Diaz is about as happy and as good-natured a person as you will meet in the sport of boxing. Words such as cordial, polite and humble are often used to describe him. To say that it takes a lot for the kid to get worked up would be an understatement.

So you can probably understand if Juan Diaz is becoming a bit perturbed. He's been listening to Paulie Malignaggi's rants and raves for going on two months now - and he's getting tired of it.

“Since that fight there's been so much controversy,” said Diaz. “There's just been so much stuff, people talking about that I lost, other people talking about that I won. But that's just boxing, that's the way it is.”

Of course, Paulie Malignaggi's standpoint is that he was held up in broad daylight by three three blind mice, the entire state of Texas and everybody and everyone that had anything to do with Juan Diaz' side of the room. Brooklyn's favorite-son is of the mindset that he was the victim of a vast conspiracy perpetrated on many levels by many different people who wanted nothing more than to stack the deck against him and see him lose when he faced Diaz in Houston back on Aug. 22.

In the days leading up to fight, Malignaggi told anybody that would listen exactly how things were going to play out - and he was eerily accurate in his prediction. Malignaggi ended up on the losing end of a unanimous decision in a close fight.

Diaz and Malignaggi took turns tearing a strip off one another. Malignaggi landed slightly more punches, but Diaz' blows were heavier.

Most observers were evenly split on who they believed won the fight and most had it 7 to 5 in rounds for one guy or the other. But the topper, and what sent people running through the grimy alleys of boxing screaming “bloody murder” was the outrageous scorecard handed in by judge Gale Van Hoy. In his view, Diaz won 10 of the 12 rounds.

Back in the old days, a rematch would have been put together quickly and everything would have been settled in short order. After all, if Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta could be matched against each other three times in four months in 1942 and 1943 – how hard could it be for Richard Schaefer, Lou DiBella and HBO to have Diaz and Malignaggi fight again in December?

Well, that's the problem with boxing these days, most of the fighting is done outside the ring. Malignaggi has added fuel to an already combustible situation by trying to right the perceived wrong done against him - with his mouth. Malignaggi's comments have appeared in newspapers from New York to Houston and on nearly every boxing website in existence.

“I think that Malignaggi and his people are doing a lot of talking because they know that they're not going to get any other big fight out there,” said a somewhat agitated Diaz whose manager, Willie Savannah, turned down the rematch offer to meet Malignaggi on the east coast on Dec. 12.

“Even his promoter said he isn't going to get any other big fight out there. You know, Malignaggi needs me!” said Diaz. “That's why Malignaggi is talking so much trash right now. I don't need him. He needs me to make another big fight.”

Paulie Malignaggi believes he was the victim of shoddy dealings. He has been extremely vocal in his attempts to get a rematch with Diaz.

Earlier this week, Richard Schaefer, who promotes Diaz, Lou DiBella who promotes Malignaggi and the HBO network all believed they had a done deal for the rematch. It appeared to be all systems go - but when the terms of the deal were turned down by Savannah - the hope of seeing Diaz vs. Malignaggi II was widely reported as being dead in the water.

When news of Savannah's decision became known, Malignaggi and DiBella railed against the Diaz team. The daggers came out and both let go with the personal insults and made it clear that all of the blame for the fight not happening rested squarely on the shoulders of Diaz and Savannah.

“Look, I'm a fighter and that's what I do,” responded Diaz to the taunts. “I don't care about a rematch with Malignaggi. I don't like the fact that he's coming out there and trash talking. Malignaggi wants the ring to be different and the place where we fight to be different. I mean, he's talking like he has options, but he doesn't have any. I mean, he thinks like whatever he says is going to be what happens, but that's not going to be it. That's not the way.”

Whatever the case, the amiable Diaz just wants to get on with his life and boxing career. There is still a good chance the rematch with Malignaggi will take place if the terms can be reworked and they meet with Savannah's sometimes quirky wishes.

As far as Diaz goes, he does have other options. There's talk of a rematch against Juan Manuel Marquez, a fight with Robert Guerrero or a possible bout somewhere down the line versus Ricky Hatton. Diaz is back in the gym and would be ready to glove up again before the end of the year against Malignaggi - or whoever else may come forward.

“All I want to do is be impressive in my next fight,” says Diaz, who prefers to do his talking in the ring. “The Malignaggi fight was controversial, but I'll do better against whoever I fight the next time.”

October 2009

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