A Look Inside Training Camp with Juan 'Baby Bull' Diaz

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2014

A Look Inside Training Camp with Juan 'Baby Bull' Diaz

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    Former lightweight champ Diaz wants to be champion again.
    Former lightweight champ Diaz wants to be champion again.R. McCarson

    Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz faces Gerardo Robles on March 1 in San Antonio, Texas. The bout is part of the untelevised undercard of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera 2, which will be shown live on HBO. 

    Diaz is no stranger to headlining big shows but said he's content working his way back to the limelight the right way. 

    "It's not about money," Diaz told Bleacher Report. "It's about world titles." 

Diaz Has Been Successful in and Outside the Ring

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    Diaz works the speed bag.
    Diaz works the speed bag.Credit: R. McCarson

    Diaz has become quite the businessman since 2010. He owns and operates a trucking company and has many outside ventures including his own brand of coffee. 

    But none of that matters inside the ring, so Diaz works hard on the speed bag in his recently opened boxing gym, Baby Bull Boxing

Diaz Changed Trainers in 2013

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    Diaz works on his footwork.
    Diaz works on his footwork.Credit: R. McCarson

    Diaz is no longer trained by longtime mentors Willie Savannah and Ronnie Shields. Instead, he decided his comeback needed a fresh approach. He hired local Houston boxing stalwarts Derwin Richards and Timothy Knight to help him reach the top of the sport again. 

Knight Wants Diaz to Jab, Jab, Jab

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    Diaz works fundamentals with Knight.
    Diaz works fundamentals with Knight.Credit: R. McCarson

    Assistant trainer Timothy Knight said the difference between the old Diaz and the new one is a focus on fundamentals. He believes Diaz needs to jab more and get hit less. The trainer and boxer focus much on these two things during training. 

Diaz Is in Top Shape

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    Fitness is key.
    Fitness is key.Credit: R. McCarson

    Though 30, Diaz is still able to make lightweight, which is something important to him and manager/fitness coach Brian Caldwell (in corner above). Caldwell and Diaz have been together for the long haul, and they expect him to compete for a world title this year. 

Sparring Helps Diaz Prepare for Fight Night

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    Diaz takes one on the belt.
    Diaz takes one on the belt.Credit: R. McCarson

    Team Diaz brings in multiple sparring partners to help him prepare. On Saturday, Diaz worked with local lightweights Danny Garcia (above) and Lanard "The Fighting Fireman" Lane. Diaz went eight rounds total with both guys.

The Unsung Heroes of Boxing Are Sparring Partners Like Danny Garcia

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    All in a day's work.
    All in a day's work.Credit: R. McCarson

    The life of a sparring partner can be hard, but Garcia said it's important for fighters to get the best work they can get. He shares the same name as a more famous fighter, but he's no stranger to boxing fans in Houston where the 35-year-old frequently headlines shows. 

    "We're here for Juan," said Garcia about the part he and Lane will help play for Diaz. 

Diaz Is Still Tough, Aggressive

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    Still the Baby Bull.
    Still the Baby Bull.Credit: R. McCarson

    While Diaz and team have been working on the jab, he still is the aggressive fighter fans saw back in 2010. During sparring, he came forward with hooks and uppercuts to make his mark, while Garcia tried to keep him away with jabs. 

Defense Is More Than Just Blocks and Parries

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    View from the corner.
    View from the corner.Credit: R. McCarson

    While Diaz worked with Garcia, Richards and Knight watched on from his corner, shouting instructions to him. While they want Diaz to keep his hands up, they also want him to pivot more and move up and down as he approaches punching range. 

Diaz Made His Mark as a Tremendous Body Puncher

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    Working the body.
    Working the body.Credit: R. McCarson

    Like any good body puncher, Diaz knows he needs to be able to take punches to the midsection to get close enough to give them. After sparring, he worked his core muscles via standard floor exercises. 

Diaz Is Still One of Houston's Most Recognizable Celebrities

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    Done for the day.
    Done for the day.Credit: R. McCarson

    The last thing Diaz did before hitting the showers was meet and greet the 30-40 fans who showed up to watch him train. He is a local celebrity in Houston, which he seems to enjoy. He thanked everyone for coming out in support of him and said he feels as good as ever. 

    Kelsey McCarson covers boxing for Bleacher Report and The Sweet Science. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Pictures are courtesy of Rachel McCarson, boxing photographer.