Manny to meet Diaz, fans in downtown Chicago

May 2008

Text, photos and video by Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao is coming to Chicago on May 21 to promote his upcoming fight in Las Vegas against World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight champion David Diaz.

This was revealed by Bernie Bahrmasel of Double B. Publicity, Inc., which handles the publicity of the June 28 match at the world’s gambling capital.

“It will be Manny Pacquiao’s first visit here in Chicago,” Bahrmasel said.

He said the “meet and greet” will be at the Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago. Additional details of the event will be announced at a later date.

Chicago is the hometown of Mexican American fighter Diaz. He was born and raised in the Humboldt Park area, and also trains here.

Last Sunday, May 4, Diaz was at the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago to lead the annual Cinco de Mayo parade, an event celebrating Mexican heritage and pride. A substantial part of the Chicago population is of Mexican ancestry.

In an interview before the parade, Diaz revealed little about his training, but added that he is looking forward to his bout with the top Filipino boxer.

“We are both made for each other, and I think we’re going to give a great and exciting fight for the public. This is what the fight is all about, to make the public happy and the fans happy,” Diaz told this reporter.

Asked how he would match up with Pacquiao, who defeated a number of his Mexican compatriots, Diaz refused to make a prediction.

“Let’s just wait and see how the fight goes. I’m not a big prediction guy. I just don’t believe in that. We should be humble, and we both are humble fighters,” Diaz explained. “We like to prove ourselves in the ring.”

Diaz was quick to add that he hopes to give a good fight and keep his title from being snatched by the 29-year old fighter from General Santos City in Mindanao.

Last year, Diaz, 31, (34-1-1, 17 KOs), successfully defended his title by defeating another Mexican star Erik Morales, whom Pacquiao also defeated in the past.

Pacquiao (46-3-2, 34 KOs) currently holds four world titles, including the World Boxing Council super featherweight belt.

Not all Filipinos are rooting Pacquiao. Diaz revealed that he has some Filipino friends in Chicago who want him to win.

“I’ve got a bunch of Filipino friends. Fortunately for me, they’re going to be rooting for me. They’re like, ‘we know you, you’re our buddy’, so I feel fortunate and happy about that,” he said with a grin.

At the start of the parade route, Diaz was beaming with pride as he greeted and pose for pictures with his fans. He was accompanied by his wife, Tanya and son David Jr. Another son, Elias was not present.

Of his being chosen as the parade’s grand marshal, Diaz said: “It’s beautiful, because I’ve always claimed that my heritage, even though I was born here in the US, is Mexican. My life, my upbringing has been Mexican. For them to honor me to lead the parade, you can’t get higher than that.”

Diaz, who started training as a boxer at age eight, also thanked his family for supporting his career saying, “without them, my achievements that I have done would not have been possible.” “So I thank them from the bottom of my heart, so may God bless them always,” he added.

As the parade rolled on, tens of thousands of parade spectators cheered “Viva Mexico” and “Viva Diaz” to the delight of Diaz and his family, aboard a top-down sports car.

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