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Juan Diaz: ‘I have that fire burning inside of me’

Fighters Network
Photo credit: Chris Farina/Top Rank Promotions

Photo credit: Chris Farina/Top Rank Promotions

Former IBF/WBA/WBO lightweight titlist Juan Diaz is on the cusp of fighting for another major title. A win on Saturday night could put him in that position.

Diaz will face Cesar Vazquez Saturday night at the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona. The 10-round bout will air on UniMas, beginning at 11 p.m. ET/ PT.

Diaz (41-4, 20 knockouts) has won four major titles throughout his pro career. Despite time off in 2015 to recover from a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, Diaz is set on winning a fifth world title belt.

“I’m staying very motivated and focused,” Diaz told RingTV in an interview Thursday afternoon. “A win over Vazquez brings me closer to a world championship. Beating him and possibly fighting for a championship is what motivates me.”

Diaz is only 32 years of age, yet he has been a pro since 2000. He has been in wars with Juan Manuel Marquez, Paul Malignaggi and Michael Katsidis and one wonders how much he has left in the tank.

The Houston, Texas resident has not held a title since 2008, taking time off to complete his education and begin a trucking business.

Even during and after the layoff, Diaz’s eyes have always been set on winning a fifth world title belt.

“I have that desire to be on top,” said Diaz, who has won his last six bouts. “The thought of the referee raising my hand in victory, a world title belt being put around my waist. That’s what motivates me.”

As Diaz is in his 17th year as a pro, even he is amazed at his longevity in the sport.

“I never thought I would be fighting 16-17 years. When I turned pro, I thought I would be lucky enough to fight for 10 years. I’ve been very fortunate enough to stay competitive.”

Despite currently not being ranked by any of the sanctioning bodies at 135 pounds, Diaz could enter the world rankings with a win on Saturday.

Diaz is targeting WBA beltholder Anthony Crolla and WBO titlist Terry Flanagan.

“I don’t mind going to England to fight them.”

Whether it is after the Vazquez fight, should he win, or early in 2017, Diaz is willing and able to fight to face the best of the division.

“Maybe I do need to call these champions out to remind them I’m still here. I still have to prove myself at times.

“I have that fire burning inside of me.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.