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Pacquiao Must Deal With the Mother of All Distractions

Bernard Fernandez

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For a lot of people – too many, probably – the worst natural disasters are viewed with a certain sense of detachment. Maybe that’s because it’s difficult for the less compassionate among us to wrap their minds around the sudden deaths of thousands, or even tens of thousands, of other human beings because the scope of it all is just too unimaginable to grasp. Maybe it’s because it’s difficult for individuals numbed by a succession of such events to feel much sympathy for deceased strangers in a different part of their own country, much less in some far-off land.

Tragedy is often a matter of perspective. We feel the pain most acutely when it is personal, when that especially destructive earthquake, hurricane or flood affects us and ours, when the death of a loved one, or the sudden loss of all of his or her earthly possessions, is more keenly felt that the televised sight of collapsed buildings and rows of stacked bodies elsewhere.

If someone is fortunate enough never to have felt the capricious wrath of nature’s fury, it perhaps is possible to remain at least somewhat unmoved by such catastrophes as the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004 (death toll: 230,000); Hurricane Katrina (U.S. landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, with a death toll of 1,833, mostly in Louisiana and Mississippi, and property damage estimated at $81 billion); the Haiti earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010 (death toll: anywhere from 100,000 to 316,000, depending upon which figure you choose to believe); the Japan earthquake of March 11, 2011 (death toll: 15,883), and Superstorm Sandy (death toll: 286, and property damage of $65 billion in the U.S.).

In relation to the terrible toll exacted by some of the aforementioned weather-related disasters, Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the northern Philippines on Nov. 7, was, in boxing terms, almost qualifies as a flash knockdown. The death toll currently stands around 5,000, but could climb higher when the bodies of many of the missing persons presumed to be dead are found and added to the list. Hundreds of thousands of survivors, fortunate to still be alive, were left homeless, hungry and desperate.

Against this backdrop of national misery, the Philippines’ greatest sports hero, former eight-weight-class world champion Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs), heads into this weekend’s scheduled 12-rounder with Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 22 KOs) in Macao, China – first bell rings Saturday night in the United States, in late morning on Sunday China time – facing the mother of all distractions. Pacquiao, one of 289 members of the Philippine congress who someday hopes to run for his homeland’s presidency, not only must try to affirm his continued relevancy as a boxer following back-to-back defeats to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, but he shoulders the potentially crushing responsibility of providing his countrymen a glimmer of hope, with an especially impressive victory, that all again can be right in their world.

It is a fine line that Pacquiao, who trained for the Rios fight in his hometown of General Santos City, 466 miles from the area hardest-hit by Typhoon Haiyan, must tread. There will be those who will say he should have immediately broken off training, traveled to the devastated areas of the Philippine archipelago and provided whatever assistance he could to the more bereft of the country’s 98 million citizens, a vast majority of whom have come to regard him as the most visible embodiment of their own national pride. Others will say, with justification, that Typhoon Haiyan struck too close to the date of the fight, that Pacquiao – who turns 35 on Dec. 17 – had no choice but to continue with his preparations to vanquish the dangerous Rios because to do otherwise would have an even more debilitating effect on an already reeling populace.

“I really want to visit the area and personally do what I can to help our countrymen who have suffered so much in this terrible tragedy,” Pacquiao said in a prepared statement. “But I am deep in training for this crucial fight, so I regret that I cannot go.”

Pacquiao’s adviser, Canadian Michael Koncz, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview last week that Pacquiao intended to personally view the wreckage and talk to displaced orphans of the storm on the morning of Nov. 24, hopefully as the bearer of glad tidings.

But Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, realizes that even a return to dominance by his fighter – who has hinted at retirement if he loses for the third time in succession – can’t be a panacea for all the hardships Filipinos are enduring, and will continue to face in the weeks and months ahead.

“That’s probably small comfort to people going without food and water,” Roach said of the effects a Pacquiao triumph would have on a half-million souls now deprived of many of life’s basic necessities.

Top Rank, Pacquiao’s promotional company, isn’t glossing over what Typhoon Haiyan has wrought upon a poor but proud nation. Standard boxing considerations don’t really apply to this fight, as noted by several legendary fighters who took part in what Top Rank billed as the “greatest teleconference in boxing history.”

“If there is anyone that has the ability to come back, both physically and psychologically, it’s Manny Pacquiao,” said Sugar Ray Leonard, who was joined on the conference call with the media by Roberto Duran, George Foreman, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Marco Antonio Barrera, Timothy Bradley and Mike Alvarado. “I’m picking Manny because he is Manny Pacquiao. He can – and he will have to – black out everything and have tunnel vision going into the ring against Brandon Rios.”

Foreman said he “was distracted” by a cut he incurred in sparring, which led to a delay of several weeks in the staging of his “Rumble in the Jungle” showdown with Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire, and “that’s why I lost.” The fact that nearly all Zaireans were so demonstrably for Ali might have had something to do with it, too.

But Foreman also claims to have risen above other distractions, which come more frequently than the public sometimes realizes. “Just before I fought Michael Moorer there was a big, tragic flood right here in the Houston area and I had to wade through waist-deep water to rescue my family,” Big George recalled. “There were many deaths. But when it came time to put on the boxing trunks, it all disappeared.”

Barrera, who twice was defeated by Pacquiao (an 11th-round TKO in 2003, a 12-round, unanimous decision in 2007), even went so far as to mathematically calculate the mental effect Typhoon Haiyan might have on “Pac-Man.”

“Distractions can play a big deal for many in Manny’s situation,” Barrera said. “If you train 100 percent, distractions could take away 40 percent of all the work that you put in. Manny has to concentrate on one thing, and that’s boxing. He does have responsibilities with the typhoon and everything, which makes it harder, but he can’t separate himself from being a boxer. If he tries to be a politician and a boxer at the same time, he’s going to be in trouble.”

Much of the speculation being bandied about by observers and pundits is just that, but there are at least a couple of boxing writers who can keenly relate to the particulars of what Pacquiao is feeling, albeit on a much lesser public scale. Hurricanes and typhoons are indiscriminate victimizers, cutting across all social and economic distinctions.

For me, a native of New Orleans with numerous family members and friends still living in the city and area, the gut punch was delivered when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, with entire neighborhoods in my old hometown washed or blown away. For a time, Katrina transformed the heavily damaged Superdome into a refugee camp and international symbol of misery and despair.

The floodwaters covered the home of the youngest of my three brothers-in-law to its roof; it later was determined to be unsalvageable and bulldozed. But the worst of it was when another brother-in-law, who was living with my wife and me in suburban Philadelphia, suffered a stroke the night Katrina struck, the coverage of which he had watched all day, in shock, on TV. Rushed to a nearby hospital, he soon lapsed into a coma and died a week later. To this day, I remain convinced Katrina played at least a part in his too-early demise, at 47. And if all that weren’t enough, my elderly mother, whom we had brought north to live with us several months prior to the hurricane, was scheduled to undergo cancer surgery the day after Katrina, on Aug. 30. She never left the hospital following the operation and died on Oct. 20.

For months, it was a struggle for me to perform even the simplest daily functions. I probably was clinically depressed, and there was no joy or satisfaction in my covering boxing matches and other sports for my employer, the Philadelphia Daily News. In comparison to life-and-death issues, what does it really matter who wins or loses a prizefight or a ballgame? But, fortunately, I eventually found my way back to who and what I had been before.

A similar story is told by my friend and successor as president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, Jack Hirsch, whose Rockaway Park, N.Y., home was flooded by seven feet of water during Superstorm Sandy.

“One of the local mailmen I knew drowned in his basement,” said Jack, whose property losses included such treasured boxing memorabilia as gloves signed by Willie Pep, Kid Gavilan and Archie Moore. “And he wasn’t the only one. The water came in with a quick surge and some people couldn’t get out.

“We evacuated early, but we took a big hit. In the weeks after the storm, I would go back to the house very early in the morning to try to clean up as best I could. The neighborhood was just empty. It was like civilization had yet to start again. What few people were around didn’t have electricity, and food was hard to get. We were eating a lot of what I called space food (prepackaged RTEs, or “ready-to-eat” meals).

“Believe me, I did not want to talk or even think about boxing during that time. The hurricane was still too fresh in everyone’s minds. Out of necessity, though, I had to snap out of it because five weeks later, we had our BWAA East Coast business meeting. It was either step down or step up. I had to force myself to put my game face back on.”

Jack said it probably is impossible to gauge what effect Typhoon Haiyan will have on Pacquiao until fight night, when he, too, will have to step down or step up at the moment of truth. “Who knows?” Jack asked, rhetorically. “It could motive him more. It could be an insurmountable distraction. Everyone deals with these things differently.”

The closest sports analogy I can come up with, of an individual or a team having endured what Pacquiao has and rising above it, is the New Orleans Saints-Philadelphia Eagles playoff game on Jan. 13, 2007, in the Superdome, just 16 months after Katrina had dealt a near-death blow to the city of my birth. The Saints had gone 3-13 in the 2005 season, playing “home” games in Baton Rouge, La., and San Antonio, Texas, but somehow had rebounded to go 10-6 and reach the postseason thanks in large part to the magical passing arm of the team’s prized free-agent acquisition, Drew Brees. This is how I described it:

This game is about so much more than which team takes another step toward Super Bowl XLI. It is about hope and survival, and humanity’s refusal to be beaten into submission.

If the residents of New Orleans can fight back from near-ruination to something approaching normalcy, so, too, can the people of the Philippines. It’s no wonder they have so latched onto Pacquiao, a devout Roman Catholic whose given first name – Emmanuel – means, appropriately given the situation, “God is with us” in Hebrew. The country’s chosen one was so poor as a child that the family dog became dinner when an already sparse food supply ran out. But it isn’t just that Pacquiao, a multimillionaire, has busted free of the shackles of poverty that makes him such an inspirational figure and role model. He could have become even wealthier by moving to the United States to decrease his tax liabilities and increase his endorsement opportunities, but he chose not to do so because he is first, last and always a native son.

In the April 2010 issue of GQ, Pacquiao was described by one former Philippine congressman as the country’s “most important source of social welfare.” It is reasonable to presume that a significant chunk of his eight-figure purse for the Rios fight will go to typhoon relief efforts because, well, he always has funneled much of his financial good fortune back into the nation that spawned him.

It is not out of the question that some of that well-intentioned money will even go toward improved barriers against the typhoons that visit the Philippines all too regularly. But no man – not even Pacquiao – can erect walls high enough to keep the worst storms totally out. We all exist within the parameters of human fragility, as Haiyan again demonstrated.

“If mountain ranges and oceans can be overcome,” Gen. George S. Patton, played by Academy Award winner George C. Scott, says in the great 1970 war movie, Patton, “anything made by man can be overcome.”

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Avila Perspective, Chap 111: Munguia, Tank and The Monster

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap 111: Munguia, Tank and The Monster

Here come some more hardcore fights.

As the end of the year approaches contracts must be honored. That’s a good thing for fight fans even during a pandemic.

Golden Boy Promotions brings a loaded fight card led by Mexican swing-from-the-heels fighter Jaime Munguia (35-0, 28 KOs) moving into the middleweight division against Tureano Johnson (21-2-1, 15 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. DAZN will stream the Friday night fight card on Oct. 30.

Munguia (pictured opposite Johnson) just recently turned 24 years old; a couple of weeks ago. The former super welterweight world titlist out of Tijuana grew out of the division and now is mentored by boxing great Erik “El Terrible” Morales. No more swinging at anything that moves. Now it’s technical savagery.

Johnson, 36, hasn’t fought in over a year but in that last fight he knocked off Ireland’s undefeated Jason Quigley. That was not supposed to happen. The Bahamian native only has two losses and those were stoppages in the last round by Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Curtis Stevens. He has the technique, but does he have the chin?

Another savage battle involves welterweights.

New England’s Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (22-0, 14 KOs) faces Orange County’s Alexis Rocha (16-0, 10 KOs) a hard-hitting southpaw in a showdown set for 12 rounds. Will it go that long?

Both have power and I doubt the fight goes beyond seven rounds. Both have ended fights in the opening rounds before. If someone blinks at the wrong time it could be over quickly.

Others on the card including super featherweight contender Lamont Roach and super middleweight prospect Bektemir Melikuziev. Also, female contenders Sulem Urbina and Marlen Esparza square off. Opening bout begins at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Crazy Saturday

A Matchroom Boxing fight card stemming from England showcases a Southern California-based world champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) meeting Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) in the heavyweight main event.

Usyk, now 33, just recently conquered the cruiserweight division and was undisputed world champion and now deigns to move up in weight where the money is much better fighting the big boys. He’s a speedy Ukrainian southpaw who uses plenty of movement and has shocking power when he sets his feet.

Chisora, 36, has fought all of the top European heavyweights including another Ukrainian heavyweight named Vitali Klitschko. Though it hasn’t always been violets and roses for Chisora, he does pack a wallop and if he catches Usyk it could be all over. But his feet are made of stone and he will have problems moving in rhythm with the fleet-footed Usyk.

A co-main event features lightweight contenders Lee Selby (28-2, 9 KOs) pitted against George Kambosos Jr. (18-0, 10 KOs) in a Great Britain versus Australia battle.

Two female bouts with extra power are also on the card as Savannah Marshall (8-0) battles Hannah Rankin (9-4) for the vacant WBO middleweight title; and Amy Timlin (4-0) meets Carly Skelly (3-0) in a battle of undefeated super bantamweights.

The fight card will be streamed on DAZN at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

Showtime

World champions collide with three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz daring to move up yet another weight division and challenge the ultimate danger in super featherweight and lightweight world titlist Gervonta “Tank” Davis for his titles.

Danger is written all over this Showtime pay-per-view card on Saturday Oct. 31.

Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) has yet to be truly challenged by anyone. Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) has always been a risk taker and could be going way over his limit against Tank.

“I’m facing the best fighter in the division. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. I have to go against the best fighter,” said Santa Cruz. “I wanted to challenge myself. I know this is a dangerous fight for me, but I want to test myself.”

If Santa Cruz is still standing after 12 rounds then a big salute to him. Davis won’t allow that to happen. He’s not a guy who looks to win by decision. Tank looks to knock opponents unconscious so he can take pictures of them asleep.

“I don’t think I have to knock him out, I just have to go out there and be great. Forget everything else, I just have to go out there and show everyone that I’m the top guy in the boxing world. That’s my main goal,” said Davis.

Right.

It’s not the only good fight on the card.

Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) defends the WBA super lightweight title against Ryan Karl (18-2) in the co-main event.

Also, on the same card Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs) meets Juan Heraldez (16-0-1, 10KOs) in a super lightweight matchup. Whoever wins will probably meet Barrios for his title soon after. That’s if Barrios beats Karl.

It’s a boxing card that could see the end of the line for one or two of the fighters.

Monster and Mayer

Japan’s Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) defends the WBA and IBF bantamweight world titles against Australia’s Jason Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on Saturday October 31. It will be his Las Vegas debut and will be televised on ESPN+.

Inoue will be a big favorite and how can you blame odds makers when Moloney’s only loss was to Emmanuel Rodriguez who was blown out by the Monster?

But you never know.

“There are a lot of expectations, and I want to meet those expectations. I take those big expectations, and I use them as motivation and power to keep getting better with every fight,” said Inoue.

Inoue’s last fight nearly a year ago was an epic clash against Nonito Donaire in a classic battle that saw both deliver bombs and take them in a 12-round fight that ended in a close but unanimous victory for the Japanese star.

Boy was it close.

Until the 11th round it was nip and tuck as Donaire proved why he is destined to be a surefire Hall of Fame inductee when he retires.

Both punished each other and during their confrontation it was evident that Inoue does indeed have a solid chin. One big question will be if Inoue took too much punishment and can he handle a rough customer like Moloney.

“Every fighter should want to fight the best. That’s why we’re in this sport. My dream and my goal is to be the best bantamweight in the world, and the only way to make that happen is to beat Inoue,” said Moloney.

It should be an interesting match.

Also, female American Olympian Mikaela Mayer (13-0) challenges Poland’s Ewa Brodnicka (19-0) for the WBO super featherweight world title. Expect no quarter given by Mayer who has been gunning for a title challenge for the past two years with most of the titleholders in Europe ignoring her.

Brodnicka expects a tough fight.

“I have a lot of things against me. But I’m ready. I don’t care if she says that she doesn’t respect me. She makes a lot of mistakes, and I’m going to take advantage of all of them,” Brodnicka said.

Mayer is not in a good mood.

“I have been calling out the champs for a while. It’s been something I feel like I’ve been ready for a few fights, but now in hindsight looking back, I think everything worked out perfectly. Like Bob Arum said, I’ve had some really great fights, and I’ve really been able to settle in to my pro style. I’m more ready than ever to take on these world champions. I feel like I’m the best in this division,” said Mayer.

Sunday

A Sunday afternoon boxing card by Thompson Boxing Promotions takes place at the Omega Products International in Corona, CA but will not include fans.

Undefeated lightweights Mike Sanchez (6-0-1, 2 KOs) faces Israel Mercado (8-0, 7 KOs) in the main event on Sunday Nov. 1. It will stream on Thompson Boxing Promotions web page and also on its Facebook page beginning at 4 p.m. PT.

Go to this link to watch the fight card: www.thompsonboxing.com

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Usyk vs. Chisora Sets the Table for a Strong Night of Boxing

Arne K. Lang

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It’s been largely lost in the ragout, at least on this side of the pond, but Saturday’s busy fight docket includes the return of Oleksandr Usyk, the former Olympic gold medalist who left the cruiserweight ranks as a legitimate four-belt champion. The 33-year-old Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs), opposes tough but erratic Dereck Chisora, a 36-year old Londoner by way of Zimbabwe. Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs), has won five of his last six, the setback occurring in his second encounter with arch-rival Dillian Whyte.

Usyk vs. Chisora, a Matchroom promotion, will play out at Wembley Arena with no fans in attendance. The Ukrainian southpaw is ranked among the top three heavyweight contenders by all four major sanctioning bodies although he has fought only once as a heavyweight, turning away under-trained late sub Chazz Witherspoon who was all in after seven frames. Usyk weighed 215 for that contest and is expected to come in about 230 for Chisora.

Usyk, who has anglicized his first name to Alexander on his English-language twitter feed, is a big favorite, but this is a tricky fight for him. The consensus 2018 Fighter of the Year, Usyk has fought only twice since unifying the cruiserweight title with a lopsided decision over Murat Gassiev in July of that year and 55 weeks have elapsed since his last start. If he needs the early rounds to shake off ring rust, he could find himself clawing out of a hole, and sometimes the hole is too deep as Usyk’s stablemate Vasiliy Lomachenko can attest. Moreover, Usyk has yet to face a naturally bigger man who can bang as hard as “Del Boy.”

The Usyk-Chisora card will air in North America on DAZN with the main event ring walks anticipated about 6 pm ET.

The tiff is hitched to an interesting undercard. Once-beaten Welshman Lee Selby, briefly the IBF featherweight champion, tangles with Australia’s undefeated (18-0) George Kambosos Jr. Savannah Marshall, who saddled Claressa Shields with her only amateur loss, meets former Shields opponent Hannah Rankin with a vacant world middleweight title at stake, Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy opposes Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune for a domestic cruiserweight title, and then there’s the heavyweight fight attracting buzz between popular Yorkshireman David Allen and Christopher Lovejoy.

The buzz surrounds the mysterious 36-year-old Lovejoy who is 19-0 as a pro with all but two of those KOs coming in the opening round.

All of Lovejoy’s fights were staged in Tijuana. Only one of his opponents brought a winning record. For a certain stripe of fighter, Tijuana is the equivalent of a feed lot, a place where livestock go to get fattened up before they are sent off to the slaughterhouse. David Allen is limited, but the most likely scenario in this fight is that it ends with Lovejoy sitting on his stool.

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Diego Magdaleno is Locked and Loaded for Saturday’s Fray in San Antonio

Arne K. Lang

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Diego Armando Magdaleno, the son of a former semi-pro soccer player, was named for Argentine soccer star Diego Armando Maradona. But Diego’s father Jesus is hardly disappointed that his son devoted his energies to a different sport than soccer as Diego, the oldest of Jesus’s three boys, has carved out a nice career as a boxer. On Saturday, he faces Isaac Cruz at the San Antonio Alamodome and a win could thrust him into a third crack at a world lightweight title. Magdaleno vs. Cruz will be televised as part of a SHOWTIME PPV event anchored by a battle between title-holders Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Leo Santa Cruz.

The bookies don’t know what to do with the Magdaleno-Cruz matchup. One can find odds on fights of lesser importance, but with the fight only four days away the pricemakers were in quandary. Team Magdaleno, however, is approaching the fight as if they are the “B” side. Mexico City’s Isaac Cruz, who boasts a 19-1-1 record and is undefeated in his last 15 starts, has a fan-friendly style and is only 22 years old. In theory, he has more value to the promoter going forward than Magdaleno (32-3, 13 KOs) who turns 34 this week.

Magdaleno relishes the underdog role. He was the “B” side in his most recent fight when he opposed Austin Dulay in Dulay’s hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, and he carved out a clear-cut 10-round decision. Dulay, the younger man by nine years and less experienced at the pro level, was in over his head. Their fight was nationally televised on FOX.

Diego Magdaleno was born in Beverly Hills, California, but unlike many folks born there wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. “We were more like the Beverly Hillbillies,” says Diego, a reference to the popular sitcom that ran on CBS from 1962 to 1971.

For many years, Diego’s father, an immigrant from Sahuayo in the Mexican state of Michoacan, worked at the flagship West LA branch of an iconic Greater Los Angeles hamburger chain. Diego’s parents now manage a 7-11 in Las Vegas.

When Magdaleno first laced on the gloves it was at the Brooklyn Avenue boxing gym in the gritty Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, the same gym where Oscar De La Hoya trained for the Olympic Trials. He continued with the sport after his family – he has three older sisters – moved to Las Vegas.

Diego influenced both of his younger brothers to become boxers. Jessie Magdaleno surpassed him in name recognition when he upset Nonito Nonaire in November of 2016, earning him the WBO world super bantamweight title. Jessie lost the belt in his second defense, succumbing to Isaac Dogboe, but has won three straight since that mishap, advancing his record to 28-1. The youngest Magdaleno brother, Marco, was 4-0 as a pro when he abandoned the sport, having secured a job with good pay and benefits in the construction field.

Diego has applied some of his ring earnings toward a real estate investment in Scipio, Utah, where he owns a parcel of land adjacent to a pioneer home. Scipio is a four-hour drive from Las Vegas and figuratively a million miles away. What does one do for fun in Scipio, pop. 288? The first thing that popped up in our internet search was to go grab a sandwich at the Burger Barn.

There’s a back story there. The pioneer home, built in 1886, was recently purchased by Diego’s fiancée Shannon Torres, a descendent of one of Scipio’s founding families. She and Diego are restoring it. Diego professes to be amazed at the craftsmanship. “When we pulled up the carpets,” he said, “the original hardwood floors were still in great condition.”

Shannon Torres has a boxing background, having fought as an amateur and having sparred with the likes of Mia St. John. She is also a nutritionist. Diego confesses to having a sweet tooth, being fond of cheesecake and anything with peanut butter. “She knows how to make those things for me so they are not as unhealthy,” he says.

Magdaleno’s first loss came in April of 2013 when he lost a split decision to Ramon Martinez in Macau. Diego thought he won the fight, but only one of the judges concurred. At stake was Martinez’s WBO 130-pound world title. His second world title opportunity came against WBO lightweight champ Terry Flanagan on Flanagan’s turf in Manchester, England. That didn’t go well.

“When I got in the ring, it felt like there was sand under my shoes,” said Diego. “My right foot was sliding underneath me. I overcompensated and that caused me trouble.” Magdaleno loaded up on his punches, a fatal mistake, and was knocked out in the second round.

Top Rank dropped Magdaleno after that fight but would eventually bring him back to fight their rising star Teofimo Lopez. His fight with Austin Dulay was his first fight back after his loss to Lopez (TKO by 7) and his first with new trainer Bones Adams (pictured on the left) in his corner.

Mag

Isaac Cruz poses a different threat than Dulay partly because Cruz, who stands only 5’4 ½”, is a lot shorter. But Magdaleno is confident the result will be the same.

“His style is attack, attack, attack; it’s one-dimensional,” says Diego. “I have been in there and done things that this kid has never seen. I am a big step up for him.”

Unlike many prizefighters, Diego Magdaleno knows where he is heading after his career is finished; he is already a licensed real estate salesman with one listing to his credit. He’s bi-lingual despite having spent only three months living in Mexico, that as a first-grader, and his linguistic versatility will come in handy in his second career. “I know just enough Spanish to get by,” he says, but having heard him speak in his parents’ native tongue we can attest that he’s being much too modest.

For the time being, however, Diego isn’t looking past Saturday night. Magdaleno vs. Cruz is expected to go first on the four-fight PPV portion of the card which kicks off at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

Magdaleno/Dulay photo credit: Stephanie Trapp

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