Updated: December 12, 2009, 7:51 AM ET

Diaz out to repeat; Malignaggi seeks revenge

Rafael By Dan Rafael
Juan DiazChris Bernacchi/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsJuan Diaz is out to prove his win in the first fight was the right decision.

Even before former junior welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi went to Houston to face former unified lightweight titleholder Juan Diaz in his hometown in August, he was telling anyone who would listen that he didn't think he could get a fair shake from the judges.

Malignaggi called reporters weeks ahead of time to make his feelings known. He talked about it in the days leading up to the fight. And then on fight night, Malignaggi fought his heart out in a very close bout, one many thought he won. But, sure enough, he lost a unanimous decision.

Judge Raul Caiz scored it 115-113, which few could argue with because of the close nature of the bout. There was a bit more concern about David Sutherland's 116-112 scorecard, although, again, it was reasonable in a fight with many close rounds. But then came the scorecard that had even the most ardent Diaz supporter groaning, the 118-110 tally turned in by Gale Van Hoy, the lone Texas judge on the panel.

It sent Malignaggi (26-3, 5 KOs) into near-meltdown mode in his postfight interview as he railed against a perceived hometown decision and made accusations of corruption.

With neither fighter having a major bout on the horizon, and HBO unwilling to televise either man against other opponents, here we are with the inevitable rematch at hand.

Instead of meeting again in Texas, or in New Yorker Malignaggi's region of the country -- a strong bone of contention during the negotiations -- the junior welterweights will fight on neutral territory Saturday night (HBO, 10:15 ET/PT) at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

"Now we are doing it again to prove who the better man is," said Golden Boy's Oscar De La Hoya, Diaz's promoter. "Juan will try to erase any doubts there were about their first encounter."

This time around, Malignaggi is content with the officials for the fight. The Illinois commission selected experienced referee Geno Rodriguez and judges Mauro DiFiore of Illinois, Tom Miller of Ohio and Florida's Michael Pernick.

"The first time around I had reservations because I knew it was going to happen," Malignaggi said of his controversial loss in August. "I knew I was going to get screwed. This is a regular situation. I never complained before other fights. I had a reason to say stuff. I was proven right. This is a neutral situation. I think both parties can benefit from it. We'll see who's the best. I'm cool. I don't have any reason to complain."

Although Diaz (35-2, 17 KOs) had nothing to do with the selection of the judges or the scoring of the fight, he was the target for some who complained about the outcome of the first fight.

"Every time I go in the ring I go there to do the best that I can," Diaz said. "I don't have no control over the judges or the referee, so it upset me a little after the fight for a few weeks when people were coming up to me or interviewing about Texas judges, Texas judges, Texas judges and they'd say it was in Houston so you won. My thing is just to fight, in Houston, Chicago, Vegas, wherever. I get paid to fight. My job is to fight and win. This time I am happy it's in Chicago. Like in the first fight, I got nothing to do with the referee or the judges.

"I'm gonna step in the ring and do what I do best and show the world the first was the right decision."

After lengthy negotiations, Diaz took the rematch because he wanted to clear the air.

"It wasn't a macho thing at all," he said. "We put up a great fight and sometimes controversies make for better fights. I think the fans wanted to see the rematch. I don't want to leave my fans with any doubt. Through my 37 fights there's never been any doubt and I don't want to have any of my fights in doubt. So why not [do a rematch]? There are a lot of possibilities out there for me, but why have this doubt? I told [manager Willie] Savannah let's make it happen."

One thing Diaz didn't want to do is dwell on the August fight.

"That fight is in the past," he said. "I'm looking to the future. Different night, different city, and I am ready to decisively win."

Said Malignaggi, "I'm really happy I got the rematch. I made enough of a stink after the first fight to help get me the rematch. We are going to clear everything up on [Saturday]."

De La Hoya said he believed Diaz won the first fight, but he understood the massive negative reaction to Van Hoy's scorecard.

"My problem was how far apart the scores were, that was the controversy," De La Hoya said. "It wasn't who won the fight. It was a close fight where you could make a strong case to go either way. I talked to people who were neutral who felt Diaz won the fight. That judge had an off night. We're having the rematch and we'll move on from there."

Ortiz looks to rebound

Matt A. Brown/Icon SMIOn the mend: After a painful loss to Marcos Maidana, Victor Ortiz is ready to get back in the ring.

Junior welterweight Victor Ortiz, Golden Boy's 22-year-old uber prospect, had everything going for him. The 2008 ESPN.com prospect of the year was viewed by many as the next big thing, an exciting, charismatic, bilingual young fighter with a bright smile, speed and two-fisted power.

Company chief Oscar De La Hoya had personally taken Ortiz under his wing and often compared his potential to that of himself when he was coming up. Golden Boy had lined up Ortiz to fight in an HBO main event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where he would face Marcos Maidana of Argentina for an interim title on June 27.

Everything was on track. Then came the fight.

It was a sensational brawl as Ortiz knocked Maidana down in the first and second rounds while Ortiz also hit the deck in the first and sixth rounds. The crowd went wild. It was great television.

But then the unimaginable happened after Ortiz went down for the second time: With a cut over his right eye, Ortiz quit and then admitted as much in his stunning postfight interview.

The next big thing had crashed and burned under the bright lights, and questions abounded about his heart and future. There was also the matter of wrist surgery following the fight.

Now, six months later, the wrist is healed, but the questions remain. They could be answered as Ortiz (24-2-1, 19 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., returns to face former welterweight title challenger Antonio Diaz (46-5-1 29 KOs) of Coachella, Calif., in the opener of HBO's Diaz-Malignaggi II broadcast.

"That night it was such an overwhelming night and the emotion got to him," De La Hoya said. "Victor I feel can overcome that."

But Ortiz does not apologize for quitting. He says he doesn't even remember it because he was so discombobulated from the early knockdown.

"Nothing whatsoever," he said of his recollection of the fight. "It's crazy that I even got up. I felt like I was sleeping." Ortiz said he didn't regain his senses until "two hours after they sewed my eye together. I was not on point. I have no idea what happened. It was a hell of an experience. It was an off night and I paid the consequences."

Ortiz said he hasn't watched the fight, although he's certainly aware of the brutal negative feedback for how the fight ended.

"What I say will never change anything," he said. "I don't regret anything in life."

All he can do is move on and try to prove himself again against Diaz, a friend of Ortiz's who even texted him after the Maidana fight to offer encouragement. Now, he's facing him.

"He's still a young, dangerous fighter," Diaz said. "He had a bad night. I've had bad nights. He's young and I know he's coming back strong to prove himself."

Shaw's stars returning

Marty Rosengarten/Ringsidephotos.comChad Dawson, left, is riding high after outpointing Glen Johnson in November.

Promoter Gary Shaw is talking with HBO about the return of two of his top fighters, interim light heavyweight titlist Chad Dawson and interim junior middleweight titleholder Alfredo "Perro" Angulo.

Dawson, who outpointed Glen Johnson last month in a rematch, probably will be back in April, Shaw told ESPN.com. He said they're awaiting the winner of Friday's Jean Pascal-Adrian Diaconu title bout in Montreal; Dawson is the mandatory for the winner.

"We'll go to Canada provided we get an agreement on the judges and referee," Shaw said. "We're also willing to go to Australia to face Danny Green [who just knocked out Roy Jones] if we could agree on the weight, although I'm not sure HBO would go to Australia. One thing I think is for sure is that Bernard Hopkins won't fight Chad."

Angulo, who blitzed Harry Joe Yorgey on the Dawson-Johnson II undercard, could also be back in April on a separate card from Dawson, Shaw said. He and HBO have a list of potential opponents in mind, including Joel "Love Child" Julio and ex-welterweight champ Ricardo Mayorga, who once was scheduled to face Angulo but withdrew after a contract dispute with promoter Don King.

Shaw also said he was interested in matching Angulo with Australia's Anthony Mundine, a former super middleweight titlist who has been campaigning at middleweight but is dropping down to junior middleweight.


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