Text, photos and Video by Ted Regencia
CHICAGO — If only for a few hours, boxing was not the center of his attention, as WBC lightweight titleholder David Diaz watched his favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs play at the historic Wrigley Field on Tuesday, June 10.
Not only did he watch the game, he threw the ceremonial pitch, an honor reserved for celebrities and presidents. As the announcer called Diaz to the mound, a crowd of more than 40,000 cheered the hometown’s top boxing champion.
GMA television was the only Filipino media company allowed at Wrigley Field to cover Diaz.
“I’m going to try and see if I can make it to the plate. If in fact I can make it to the plate, I’d be happy,” Diaz said just before the start of the game.
And in what could be a good sign for Diaz, the Cubs delivered the necessary “hooks and jabs” to beat the visiting Atlanta Braves, 10-5.
The Chicago pugilist is only a few days removed from his biggest bout, and it looks like he has also ramped up his training.
“It’s great. It’s doing good. We are in good condition. We’re doing already pretty good rounds and working hard to try to stay in good shape,” Diaz said. As part of his training he runs 6 miles near his Northwest Side home.
He said he is ready to keep his title from being snatched by famed Filipino fighter, Manny Pacquiao, who now holds three world titles.
“I think [our chance] is great. I’m gonna be fighting a smart fight, an intelligent fight. I’ll try to out-point him and beat him. Let’s see what we can do,” Diaz said.
“Train hard buddy, because we are gonna have a good time,” Diaz said, directly addressing Pacquiao.
Diaz, however, hesitated to predict the possibility of him knocking out Pacquiao, who is also a lefty.”I don’t know if I can knock him out. But I feel comfortable and confident that I will do a good fight,” Diaz said.
My dad, my hero
As Diaz talked about his upcoming fight, he quickly pivoted the discussion towards the role of his parents in his career.
“My dad is my hero. He didn’t even go to kindergarten, didn’t finish first grade and he was still there able to support and provide a roof for his kids. If he can do that, I can do anything as well,” Diaz said. “I am very proud of my mom and my dad. I’m fortunate to be their son,” he added.
Diaz’s father, Anselmo is from the state of Guerrero in Mexico. He came to the US in the 1950s and toiling in the fields of Sacramento, California. He later moved to Chicago and later had to opportunity to work for R.S. Owens, maker of Oscar statues for the Academy Awards.
Meanwhile, Basilisa, David’s mother is from Acatlan, another remote part of Mexico. Not too long ago, his mother faced some health-related problems. For five years, she was on dialysis until she finally got a kidney transplant. She also suffered a heart attack after the transplant, complicating further the challenges Diaz had to face. As the youngest of nine children, the responsibility fell on him to take care of his ailing mother.
Asked how they feel about his upcoming fight, David said that both his parents “are comfortable. They feel happy. They know the type, the line of work I am in, so we got to roll with it.”