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Magdaleno Makes Changes

L-R: Jessie & Diego (Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
L-R: Jessie & Diego (Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)


This Saturday night from the C. Robert Lee Center in Hawaiian Gardens, California, Diego Magdaleno faces Jorge Pazos to kick off his 2014 campaign. Last year at this time, Magdaleno was preparing for his first world title opportunity against WBO junior lightweight beltholder Rocky Martinez, whom he faced on April 6th in Macao, China. In a tightly contested fight, Magdaleno came up short by the scores of 115-112 and 114-113 (while coming out ahead on the third scorecard, 116-111).
 
Magdaleno, who suffered his first professional loss that day, understood just how close and far he was at the same time from reaching the upper echelon of the sport.
 
“I always knew it would be hard,” Magdaleno told Maxboxing, “but honestly for that fight there, there was a lot of things I was dealing with - which I’m not going to use that as anything to hold me back. But it was hard; nothing was easy. I had to work for that title and I didn’t come up with the win and I’m just fortunate to have a better team now. That’s all I have to say.”

From the beginning of his career till the loss to Martinez, Magdaleno’s career was guided by Pat Berry. After the loss, he made changes and is now managed by Frank Espinoza and trained by Joel Diaz in Coachella.
 
“Going back, they helped me a lot through my amateur years and they started my pro career and we did great. I don’t know; it’s hard for me to explain because I don’t want to badmouth them in anyway but there’s a lot more they could’ve done and ultimately, I was tied down. There was no way I could’ve gone but to fight through it in the condition I was in,” he explained. When reached for comment on the break-up, Berry declined comment.
 
But it’s clear Magdaleno believes he made the right move for his career.
 
“Oh, yeah; definitely. I think I needed this whole change, getting out of Vegas - not that it was a problem - but it took me out of my comfort zone and I think that makes a man tougher. You don’t have all the easy access to everything you need like little things you take for granted. They really make a big thing,” explained Magdaleno. Espinoza, who also guides the careers of Abner Mares, Antonio Orozco, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Oscar Valdez, says, “I was really happy to start working with Diego. Not only is he a talented fighter who’s in his prime and still very young, he’s in a very strong position to fight for a title very soon. It’s not every day you get to pick up the talents of someone who is already so developed and ready to compete at the world-class level.”
 
Top Rank Promotions matchmaker Brad Goodman says, “All it’s going to take is another two or three fights and he’s right back in the mix again.”
 
Magdaleno is a slick southpaw boxer but his one major drawback is a lack of real pop (just nine stoppages in 25 pro bouts). But while you can’t create or teach punching power (after all, that’s God-given), Diaz says you can improve it in individual fighters. “It’s how you work with a fighter to improve a little bit on his punching power. Sometimes they don’t listen; sometimes they just stick to their own styles. Diego has been doing really well as far as listening and making adjustments to make himself better and improve. I see that he’s hurt a couple of sparring partners here in the gym and that’s a big improvement. You can see it.

“More than that, I see that he was not taught how to extend his punches, turn his shoulders a little bit more.”
 
As you scan the 130-pound division, there are no monsters. You have a couple of respected champions in Japan and Mikey Garcia seems destined to move up to lightweight. “Diego, in my mind, is a top ten junior lightweight,” says Espinoza, “and I don’t see why, on a given night, he couldn’t win a belt and then hold it for awhile. I really think working with Joel will really be beneficial.”
 
At age 27, Magdaleno, in many respects, is starting over in the Southern California desert.
 
“It totally is and I believe it is at the right time,” he said with optimism. “I was telling Steve Carp from the [Las Vegas] Review-Journal who I’m close with, I had a heart-to-heart with because I can explain myself to him. I was telling him it was probably better that I didn’t get that title because...I’m not spiritual or anything but I don’t know where I would’ve been if I would’ve maybe stayed with them because of the fact I had the title, that things turned out great. But that gave me the will because we were so close to those people. It just made me open my eyes to something new and I’m glad I did because I would not change it for anything. Because I love being here and being away from home is hard but I know I’m getting the proper work and the right experience and the right people behind me.”
 
Goodman opines, “I think he needed a change. I think he became very complacent throughout the years just being with one specific person and I just think he did need that change. Getting out of Las Vegas where he has all his friends and family is definitely a benefit to him where he can stay focused on just fighting.”
 
2014 is about new beginnings and surroundings for Magdaleno.
 
“This year I believe is a big one for me. This year, if I get that title shot, I’m gonna get it because there’s no way in hell I’m losing,” said Magdaleno, 24-1 (9). “I got the right people, the right time; I have everything I need now and I feel that much more confident going into any fight now. My backbone is strong and I can go full force knowing and I think confidence is a big key in boxing. It’s a mind game.
 
“So just having that confidence just makes me go in there 100 percent.”
 
MARCH 29TH
 
It was officially announced on Tuesday afternoon that WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev will be facing Cedric Agnew from the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey as the main event on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark.” Agnew isn’t exactly Bob Foster or Archie Moore but honestly, looking at the landscape at 175, there really isn’t all that much that is realistically available. But no, this isn’t one of HBO’s stronger match-ups. The hope is Agnew will at the very least be durable and give Kovalev some quality rounds.
 
For those interested in attending this event, here’s the ticket info:
 
Presented by Main Events in association with Caesars Atlantic City, tickets for the light heavyweight world title showdown are on sale now through TicketMaster online at http://www.ticketmaster.com/ or via phone (800) 736-1420. Fans can also contact Main Events for tickets at (973) 200-7050. Ticket prices are $26, $51, $77 and $152. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. ET. Undercard bouts will be announced shortly.
 
TNR
 
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly, featuring special guest Larry Merchant:
 
 
MIDWEEK FLURRIES
 
Bob Arum says he expects Juan Manuel Marquez to participate in a “significant” fight in the States sometime in the spring (but not against Ruslan Provodnikov)...So by the time you read this, will Sergio Martinez vs. Miguel Cotto be 98.4 percent done?...Przemek Garczarczyk (@garnekmedia) tweeted that Damian Jonak received a contract to face James Kirkland on April 26th at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on HBO in support of Gennady Golovkin...Also on the card in Hawaiian Gardens this Saturday night are: Esquiva Falcao (the Brazilian Olympian making his pro debut), Trevor McCumby, Saul Rodriguez and Pedro Duran. Tickets for this show are priced at $100, $75 and $50. Call 562-652-4424 or 323-866-9943...Are the Winter Olympics over yet? I’ve had enough already…Ican be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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