As a former boxer and now trainer, Joel Diaz has emerged as one of boxing's upper echelon as far as a trainer. The performance in Timothy Bradley's win over the great Juan Manuel Marquez last Saturday in Las Vegas was nothing short of spectacular, a very well planned attack laid out by Diaz that made the difference in Bradley's victory over a tough Marquez.
Born in Michoacan, Mexico, and raised by his grandparents until age twelve, Diaz moved to Coachella, California with his brothers to be with his parents who worked the fields.
Learning hard work at young age, Joel started boxing pro at age eighteen to provide money for the family. His brothers also boxed, as former world champions Julio and Antonio Diaz had great careers, and Joel trained them both. For Joel, his career would be cut short due to a detached retina prior to his bout with Phillip Holiday for the IBF lightweight title. Diaz would cheat on his eye test to fight Holiday, but would fall short on the scorecards, his eye injury robbing him of his shot at the title.
Since his retirement as a fighter, Joel Diaz has become somewhat of a boxing whisperer, what he learned in the ring has given him vision as a trainer. His ability to read a fighter and knack to make adjustments along the way are his strong points. Diaz, together with knowledge and vision is not afraid to go outside the box for answers either, this is what makes him great. He tells it like it is, he demands perfection and dedication, often pushing fighters to levels they did not know even existed.
Besides having trained many great fighters, including his brothers, Diaz also trains the Magdaleno brothers, Diego and Jesse, but his greatest prize has to be Timothy Bradley.
Diaz started working with Bradley way before Timothy Bradley became a household name, it is the work ethic of his team and Diaz that began long ago that has made Timothy Bradley a champion.
So what makes Joel Diaz a legitimate candidate for trainer of the year? The answer lies outside the ring. His drive, determination and hard work brings out the best in his fighters. A journey of hard work that began long ago would be the ground work that has brought Joel Diaz to this point, nothing has ever come easy for him, he has had to fight and claw his way. When most kids his age were playing baseball or hanging with friends, Diaz was working jobs to earn money, not for himself, but for his family. It is this drive that molded him into what he is today.
We have seen the transformation of Timothy Bradley go from unwarranted criticism in the Pacquiao fight, to an all out war when he battled Provodnikov. The fight last weekend with Marquez was Bradley's greatest moment as a fighter, so much was done preparing for this fight outside the ring in a physical and mental sense. Doctors were brought in to help Bradley with the concussion he suffered in the Provodnikov fight, once he received the care and treatment needed Diaz could begin the real work.
The entire Bradley team came together on this one, but the vision of Diaz is what transformed Bradley, bringing out the best in him. The WBO welterweight title rightfully belongs to Timothy Bradley, no judge, boxing fan or critic can argue otherwise.
Joel Diaz was a guest today on Max Boxing Radio Network's, Punches "N" Bunches Edition hosted by Tony Whitby and myself, Ron Valderrama. Click on the link above to listen.