Iran Diaz will be a big-time underdog when he challenges junior bantamweight world champion and top-10 pound-for-pound fighter Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but he has enlisted a legend, Juan Manuel Marquez, to be part of his team as he aims for what would be a monumental upset.
Diaz will challenge Sor Rungvisai for his 115-pound world title on Oct. 6 at Impact Arena in Bangkok on a One Championship-promoted card that will include a mixture of combat sports, including boxing, MMA, muay thai and kickboxing.
Diaz announced that Marquez, his Mexican countryman and slam-dunk first-ballot Hall of Famer, has joined his team as an adviser.
"Juan Manuel Marquez is a legend of the sport," said Diaz, who will be boxing outside of Mexico for only the second time. "All Mexican boxers look up to him as an inspiration and a role model. I am so elated to have him as I gear up for my first world title fight of my boxing career. It's an honor to learn from the best."
Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs), 44, who boxed for 21 years, won world titles in four weight divisions from featherweight to junior welterweight and retired last August after he had been out of the ring since 2014. He wanted to continue his career but was unable to return following a debilitating knee injury he could never fully recover from.
During Marquez's storied career, he faced a who's who of the best fighters of his time, including Floyd Mayweather, Marco Antonio Barrera, Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz (twice), Timothy Bradley Jr. and, of course, Manny Pacquiao, with whom Marquez had a legendary four-fight series in which he went 1-2-1 but concluded it by knocking Pacquiao out cold in the sixth round in their epic 2012 fight.
"We consider this to be a great opportunity for Iran to face one of the best [junior bantamweights] in the world today. It's his first world title fight. With Juan Manuel Marquez extending his helping hand, it's huge for us," said Ernesto Salgado, Diaz's trainer. "There is so much at stake in this fight. We will need all the help we can get to win."
Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40 KOs), 31, of Thailand, who owns two wins against Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez in world title fights as well as one against Juan Francisco Estrada in their action-packed showdown in February, will be making the third defense of his second title reign.
Diaz (14-2-3, 6 KOs) is 3-0-1 in his past four fights, including victories against former world titleholders Hernan "Tyson" Marquez and Luis Concepcion.