Few fighters have managed to toe the line between grizzled warrior and gentlemen quite like Houston’s Juan “The Baby Bull” Diaz. The former world champion entertained countless boxing fans with his nonstop aggression in the ring and his desire to take on all fighters. But outside the ring Diaz is the epitome of class and that plays a large role in why we rooted for him feverishly.
My most endearing memory of Diaz’s fighting career came in 2009 when Ed Garza and I travled down to Houston to cover Diaz’s fight with Paul Malignaggi. Following the fight Ed, myself, and a number of fight colleagues were seated in the lobby of the fighter’s hotel when Juan Diaz came walking by with his family. “The Baby Bull” sat down and spent the better part of a half hour laughing and joking with us despite his face bearing the markings of war.
That is what I’ll miss most about Diaz, his humility. Diaz was no marketing act, he was just a genuine down to earth dude who happened to be a complete badass in the ring. The sport of boxing needs fighters like Diaz but Diaz doesn’t need boxing. No doubt he will go on to bigger and better things and that should be applauded. Boxing has it’s fill of sad endings, this time it the ending is more befitting a fairytale.
Diaz’s full retirement announcement:
Dear Fans and Friends,
After 110 amateur fights, 39 professional fights, and 19 years of sparring, training, and everything that comes with being a competitive athlete, I am announcing my retirement from boxing. This is not a decision that I take lightly. However, after extensive consultation with my family and team, we agreed that is time for me to hang up my gloves and transition into the next stage of my professional life.
I am blessed to have won 13 National Gold Medals, two National Silver Medals, four World Championships - which I successfully defended six times – and fought in the 2009 Fight of the Year. I also was awarded a spot on the 2000 Mexican National Olympic Team. Along the way, I competed against many of the top fighters in the lightweight division, and I always put my heart into every fight. I could not have asked for a better career.
While boxing, I maintained a full-time academic schedule, graduating from high school and earning my college degree from the University of Houston. I’ve always thought of myself as a student first, and a boxer second, and I am just as proud of my academic achievements as I am of my boxing accomplishments. Along the way, I promised my family and myself that I would retire from boxing as soon as the time was right. So, even though my heart still has the fire to compete, the wars in the ring have taken their toll and it’s time for me to make good on that promise.
First, and most importantly, I would like to thank my wife and parents for all of their love, support, and encouragement throughout my career. Without them, I would not be where I am today. I also would like to thank my brother, Jose, for his friendship and loyalty. He has been with me from the start, and he is my best friend and biggest supporter. My team of Willie and Clara Savannah, Ronnie Shields, Derwin Richards, Creed Fountain and Brian Caldwell get much of the credit for my success. They always guided me right and had my best interests in mind. It’s hard to imagine a better team. Finally, I want to thank all of my fans for their love and support. My career has had many highlights, but I never was more humbled than when I entered the ring at the Houston Toyota Center to a packed house full of cheering, supportive fans. I always will remember that.
Though my career in the ring is over, my passion for boxing, sports, and education continues. My company, Baby Bull LLC, has partnered with PTS Media and ESPN Deportes 1180 AM in Houston to produce, “The Baby Bull Show,” which airs every Friday at 1 pm CST. With co-hosts Ken Garcia and Enrique Vasquez, we discuss everything boxing. Recent guests have included Joel Casamayor, Saul Alvarez, Brandon Rios, Mike Lee, Kermit Cintron, and my good friend and trainer, Ronnie Shields. Our plans include expanding to other major markets over the next year. Until then, we will post recordings of our show on our soon-to-be launched website, www.babybull.com. Look for it soon.
Also, Baby Bull LLC is developing Baby Bull Soccer, which will bring professional-level coaching to both recreational and advanced players. We have great community support, and this platform will give me an opportunity to help young athletes realize their own goals and dreams.
Of course, I continue to build JD Trucking with my brother, Jose. If you need something hauled or shipped, contact the Baby Bull!
Finally, I plan on continuing my academic career and pursuing an advanced degree. Who knows, you may see me in the courtroom or boardroom, yet.
Gracias, again, to my fans for your continued support and encouragement. Please stay in touch. You can follow me on Twitter: @1Babybull.
Though my fighting career is ending, in many ways, it feels like my professional career is just beginning.
All the best,
Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz
(Photo by Edward Garza)