By David Diaz (as told to Eric Raskin)
On June 28, 2008, I fought Manny Pacquiao. I fought as hard as I could and as well as I could, and as you probably know, it wasn’t nearly enough. Manny knocked me out in the ninth round.
I honestly believed that I had a good chance of winning the fight. Three months earlier, I watched Pacquiao win a very close, controversial decision over Juan Manuel Marquez, and while I’ll admit that I don’t have the skill as a technician that Marquez has, I saw that Marquez was able to hit Pacquiao and I believed I could do the same. It felt like it was all setting up to be an awesome fight for me.
Then the bell rang. I’ve honestly never fought anybody like that before in my life. I faced some pretty fast guys in the amateurs, like Zab Judah for example, but nobody with Pacquiao’s combination of speed and accuracy. Most fast fighters just throw a lot of punches without worrying about whether they all land; Manny isn’t like that. He hits you with one shot, and then the next shot is coming right behind it, and that one lands too. It’s just unbelievable.
And his defense was better than I expected too. He never stayed in one spot. I’d have to go chase him down all the time. I wanted to get him in the corner or get him on the ropes, but he was very elusive.
I would compare the experience of fighting Pacquiao to getting caught in a hail storm. You know how hail comes down really hard and fast? It won’t knock you out, but it’s annoying and it’s just hitting you all the time and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s how I felt fighting Pacquiao. His punches aren’t necessarily hurting you, but you’re caught in a hail storm and you’re just like, “Man, where the hell is it coming from?” If I tried to keep my right hand up to block the left hand, then I left the other side open and he just kept finding ways to hit me.
Of course, he did knock me out, so I can’t claim that none of his punches were hard. As they say, the punch that knocks you out is always the one you don’t see coming. Well, I literally did not see that punch coming. I tried to get away from his jab and I turned my face, and when I came back — BOOM! I walked into his left hand. I definitely lost consciousness for a moment. I just remember being like, Whoa, what happened? I tried getting up, and the ref said, “No, no, stay there.” And I’m like, “All right, cool.”
Hey, there’s no shame for me in losing that fight. I was in there with a super-human force that night. Pacquiao was awesome, and I take my hat off to him.