It's been several years since Juan Diaz was one of the top lightweights in the world, but if he has his way, that will be changing soon.
Only one day before the third bout of his comeback trek since returning to the ring following a brief retirement, Diaz states that he is looking forward to challenging for a world championship in 2014, and also has props to his promoter, Top Rank, for giving him the opportunity.
According to Diaz, it was Top Rank that showed interest in helping to return him to his glory days as champion while other companies wanted him to be used as a steppingstone.
Here is what Diaz had to say, via Ryan Burton of Boxing Scene:
"I am very excited. This is a great card to be on. I just signed with Top Rank and I am excited that the crowd gets to see me. It's a great fight and I'm happy to be part of it.
"Top Rank showed the most interest in me becoming champion again. They are the ones that really wanted to work with me, move my career slowly, and get me back to being a world champion again.
"Other promotional companies want to use me as a steppingstone where Top Rank wants to work with me. We are going to sit down and talk with Carl Moretti and Brad Goodman after this fight and see who will be my next opponent. We will make an assessment after the fight and after we see how I look but we are definitely going to challenge for a world title in 2014."
In the modern boxing world of several titles per weight class and belts being created for Fighter of the Decade and such based on winning one fight, this isn't exactly the biggest, most unrealistic goal in the world. Plus, lightweight is undergoing what is perhaps one of its most shallow stretches in the sport's history. It isn't out of the question that Diaz could sneak into receiving a title shot against someone.
The larger question, naturally, is how much does he really have left? He looked like he was burning out a little before his retirement. His style of constant aggression and wild punches was fun for fans but not made for a long-term career. And HBO used to always remind us how he was getting a degree in law, and would quit at a young age. Well, now he's back and one has to wonder how much the "Baby Bull" really has left.
Do you think Diaz can return to his former glory, aided by a shallow division? Can he compete with the likes of Miguel Vasquez, Richar Abril, Raymundo Beltran, and Ricky Burns? Or is he only risking his health by continuing to practice a sport where only the most hungry combatants can sustain success after the initial thrust of youth has passed?