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Friday, March 12, 2010

Once KO'd by Manny Pacquiao, Diaz Battles Soto For WBC Crown

ARLINGTON, Texas -- On the evening of May 5, 2009, Manny Pacquiao was sitting in the dressing room following his ferocious, second-round knockout of England's Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

Suddenly, Pacquiao's cell phone rang.

The call was from David Diaz (pictured above, at right, with Humberto Soto), the man whom Pacquiao had dethroned with a ninth-round in June 2008 to earn the WBC lightweight (135 pounds) title.

Diaz was phoning to thank Pacquiao for the new highlight-reel stoppage of Hatton -- the one he figured would be used in future bouts promoting the Filipino superstar.

In between the stoppages of Diaz and Hatton, Pacquiao had similarly made Oscar De La Hoya remain on his stool between the eighth and ninth rounds.

But De La Hoya quit. He wasn't devastatingly dismantled and dropped like Diaz or Hatton.

And the way Hatton went out, Diaz was confident that Pacquiao's sensational blowout of the Englishman would supplant his own demise at Pacquiao's hands as the replay of record for future HBO highlights.

Diaz was correct.

"I sure did call him, and I told him to stop using my highlight and to start using Ricky Hatton's," said the 33-year-old Diaz, a southpaw who resides in Chicago.

"But this is what we do. We're supposed to sometimes lose and sometimes win," Diaz said. "And sometimes, unfortunately, that means getting knocked out. It just happens. It's my job."

On Saturday night on HBO pay-per-view from Cowboys Stadium, Diaz (35-2-1, 17 knockouts) will get a chance to regain the crown that he lost when he engages in a clash of former world champions with 29-year-old Humberto Soto (50-7-2, 32 KOs) of Tijuana, Mex., for the WBC lightweight belt vacated by Edwin Valero.

"I never thought that I would be a world champion. Now, to be able to be called two-time world champion? That lights a fire under my a** real quick," said Diaz, whose matchup with Soto takes place on the undercard of Pacquiao's defense of his WBO welterweight (147 pounds) title against Joshua Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs). "That makes me want to go out there and do what I've got to do against the guy who is across the ring from me."

Diaz said that he considers Soto a personal friend, having seen him around at boxing events and during the many times when they have fought on the same cards.

"We have a good camaraderie with each other. A lot of people don't understand the concept that we can go in there and beat each others brains in, and then later on be sharing a Coke or a beer," Diaz said.

"You have to live this life to really grasp it and understand it, and I think that boxers are really good people when you come down to it," Diaz said. "We just work hard and try to have that competitiveness that we want to be good. You just want people to talk about you and say, 'Hey, you had a pretty good fight.'"


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