With over 15 years of experience inside the squared circle, Antonio “Tono” Diaz has no doubt left his mark, racking up a respectable record of 47-6-1 with 30 KOs. The Coachella Valley native holds notable victories over the “Fighter” famed Mickey Ward, Ivan Robinson and Cory Spinks while suffering tough losses to Future Hall-Of-Famer Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito and former WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz. It would almost be a crime to let that much knowledge of the game go unemployed.
Fortunately for the youth of the Indio Boys & girls Club, in 2004 Diaz took on the huge commitment of sharing his talent with the local kids and in 2011 made it his sole focus after announcing his retirement.
Eight years later, Diaz will be showcasing one of his amateur stars Javier Padilla at the Olympic trials in Colorado Springs later this month.
Standnfight’s Dominic Serna caught up with the two as they prepared for the monumental event.
Diaz: It makes me feel very good. This will be my first kid working towards the Olympics. I’ll be taking him on February 25th thru March 3rd to Colorado Springs to compete in the USA men’s open tournament and if he wins that tournament he will qualify for the Olympic qualifiers in Brazil. If he finishes in the top 3, he will get a shot at the Olympics in London, England.
DS: How do you prepare him for such a difficult task like this?
Diaz: We have to prepare him for different styles. In the Olympics there are so many different style, European fighters and Russian fighters, they all have different styles. We have to work with him on adjusting not only the foreign styles but the Olympic style scoring.
J.Padilla: I feel good stepping up to the men’s division. I’m ready to see how I can do at a higher level.
DS: This will be Javier Padilla’s first tournament in the open men’s division, how do you think that will effect him?
Diaz: First of all, he’s a sixteen year old, his opponents will be seventeen and higher. The way his birthday falls, he can no longer compete with kids his age, he has to fight in the men’s division.
It’s going to effect him a little bit because he’s going to be a kid fighting against men but at the same time, when you see a full grown man sparring with a younger kid, the kid seems to have the advantage. His punches come quicker and he seems to land the better punches.
J.Padilla: I’m learning how heavy the hands are and seeing how the punches are in my weight class, so we’ll be ready for the men’s division.
DS: so he can be one of the few that make it to the Olympics at a very young age?
Diaz: Exactly, Fernando Vargas was one of the youngest guys in the Olympics and Javier has a style similar. He’s aggressive, he won’t take no for an answer, if you hit him once, he’s going to hit you two or three times.
He’s been working very hard for the past couple years. He’s been winning tournaments against great fighters and I think he has a shot.
DS: Starting at the age of 12 and the amount of fights he has, do you think he has come a long way?
Diaz: You know, he doesn’t have many fights but he understands the sport very well. He only has about twenty fights but has adapted to the sport quickly and he’s very motivated.
J.Padilla: The only things on my mind right now are school and boxing. There’s going to be plenty of girls later on and I don’t need to start any bad habits at this age.
DS: Even with his limited experience, he has defeated some of the top fighters out there, some having over 100 amateur bouts. How does that make you feel?
Diaz: It’s hard to describe the feeling when he goes out there and defeats these top fighters, he beat a five or six time national champion, he beat this kid that had almost 200 fights and hadn’t lost in a long time, in years.
J.Padilla: In those fights, I was the underdog. I wanted to prove everybody wrong and I did.
DS: Do you feel it’s his determination that has carried him to this point?
Diaz: I think so. I can teach him as much as I can but it’s his job inside the ring, to do what I tell him and do what it takes to get the victory.
DS: If Javier was to make it to the Olympics, what does that mean to the Coachella Valley.
Diaz: That would be big, very big because he would be the first Olympian to come out of the Coachella Valley.
J.Padilla: It’s going to be hard but I’m going to give it all I got and hopefully we come out on top.
DS: What would it mean to you to be the first trainer out of the valley to produce an Olympian?
Diaz: Wooo! (laughing) I would be in the clouds. You know I boxed myself for 25 years and I know the feeling of winning something huge. I saw it with my trainer back then. The way he felt when we accomplished our dreams. I saw it in his face. So now if one of these kids make it to the Olympics or qualify, they’re going to see that same expression on my face.