<
>

Marquez, Diaz focus on World Cup

Lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz are both in training for their HBO pay-per-view rematch on July 31 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

They are so involved in their preparation that neither man wanted to break camp to attend the annual Boxing Writers Association of America awards dinner on June 4 in New York, where they were honored as the participants for the 2009 fight of the year, a sensational battle that Marquez won via ninth-round knockout in Diaz's hometown of Houston.

But both are soccer fans and, like millions around the world, they will find time to follow the World Cup, which kicked off last week.

"After training each day in camp, I'm going to have a lot of spare time, so I'm going to be watching a lot of soccer," Diaz said. "It's going to be my new hobby."

Diaz's rooting interest is the United States, which surprised many with its 1-1 tie with England on Saturday.

"My loyal fans are Mexican-American or American fans in general, so I am going to root for Team USA," Diaz said. "I think we have a great chance of making it out of the group stage. I know most people aren't giving Team USA much of a chance to win, but soccer is like boxing -- scoring one or two goals quickly is possible and a lot of the time enough to win the game, so anything can happen."

Naturally, Marquez is rooting for Mexico.

"I am not only rooting for Mexico, but I believe if they bring their character to the field and are strong physically and mentally throughout the competition, they have a chance to win the World Cup," Marquez said. "It will be difficult, but definitely not impossible. They need go the whole tournament without injury and play like they have never played before. Their group is very difficult."

Mexico played to a 1-1 tie with host country South Africa in its opener on Friday, and Marquez is looking forward to seeing more from the team.

"Cuauht&#233;moc Blanco is the heart and soul of Team Mexico," Marquez said. "I look forward to seeing him play along with Guillermo Ochoa and Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez. I believe they can lead the team all the way to the finals."

And who scored the goal for Mexico, which tied the game with South Africa in the 79th minute? Rafael Marquez -- no relation to Juan Manuel, although the champ's brother, featherweight star Rafael Marquez, has the same name.