Diego Pacheco: ‘I’m ready to face anyone at 168 pounds’
Diego Pacheco has made significant strides, both in and out of the ring.
The unbeaten super middleweight has an opportunity to put the 168-pound division on notice at the expense of Manuel Gallegos Friday night. The 10-round bout will take place at Cintermex, in Monterrey, Mexico, and will stream live on DAZN (8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT).
Pacheco (18-0, 15 knockouts) is coming off a fourth round stoppage win over former top prospect Jack Cullen, on March 11, in Liverpool, England. The victory over Cullen took place over three months after Pacheco stopped former fringe contender Ricardo Luna in the second round.
The 22-year-old has demonstrated power and aggression in recent fights, having stopped his last seven opponents. Pacheco credits sitting down on his punches and improving his skill-set with regard to his knockout streak.
“I’m sitting down on my punches more and just increasing my boxing IQ overall,” Pacheco told The Ring over the phone on Wednesday. “We stepped up the intensity in the gym. We want to take things to another level. It’s been the perfect time, as I’ve gone from a kid to a man. I’ve displayed everything in fights, from boxing to being able to break down my opponent.”
Standing across from him tomorrow night will be Gallegos (19-1-1, 16 KOs), a hard-hitting fringe contender from the boxing hotbed of Los Mochis, Mexico. Gallegos is coming off a majority draw against then-unbeaten Richard Vansiclen on February 22.
The 26-year-old also has victories over former top prospect Kevin Newman II and fringe contender Marcos Reyes.
Pacheco understands Gallegos has nothing to lose and everything to gain but believes he is more than ready and is confident that winning this bout is a steppingstone for more prominent fights later this year and in 2024.
“Gallegos is a great opponent for me at this stage of my career,” said Pacheco, who is promoted by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing. “I’m aiming for a spectacular win on Friday night.”
Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Pacheco was able to stay away from gangs and trouble when his father took him to a nearby boxing gym. Through boxing, Pacheco became a star amateur who made his pro debut in 2018.
Pacheco has also been an example to younger kids in his neighborhood, whom can work out in the gym or follow their personal dreams. Even younger brother Federico has taken up the sport, sporting a 3-0 record and will fight in preliminary action Friday night.
“My dad taking me to the gym after school to stay out of trouble and not be around negative influences,” said Pacheco. “Boxing kept me motivated away from certain surroundings in the neighborhood. My family is very humble. We work hard.”
Pacheco is not yet ranked in the top 10 by The Ring. However he’s ranked in the top 15 in three of boxing’s sanctioning bodies.
The 168-pound division is one of the top weight classes in boxing, with The Ring Magazine champion Canelo Alvarez at the top. Other top stars in the division include David Benavidez, David Morrell, Christian Mbilli, Demetrius Andrade, Caleb Plant, Edgar Berlanga and Jaime Munguia.
While he is on the doorstep of the upper echelon at 168, Pacheco is confident he can face and defeat anyone in the division. An impressive victory could put him closer to facing a top-10 contender later this year or in 2024. Pacheco just wants to prove himself and show he is getting better after each outing.
“I fought four times last year and plan on fighting three times this year.”
“I definitely believe I’m a contender in this division. After the win, Friday, I want people to recognize me as a top fighter. I don’t duck anyone and I believe I can compete for a world title. I may be the youngest but I’m ready to face anyone at 168 pounds.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also follow Francisco on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.