As he packed for his trip to China, Diego Magdaleno made sure he left a little room in his suitcase for a souvenir.
A special souvenir.
The 26-year-old Las Vegan plans to bring back the WBO super featherweight title belt, currently held by Rocky Martinez. The two will square off April 6 at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau, and Magdaleno, who left for the fight Wednesday, said he prepared as well as one can for the biggest fight of his career.
“I have a big arsenal at my disposal, and I need to use it all,” Magdaleno said. “I don’t plan to hold anything back.”
Magdaleno (23-0, nine knockouts) has been the NABF super featherweight champion since 2011. But this is his first shot at a world title, and he admitted he trained differently for the 30-year-old Martinez (26-1-2, 16 KOs).
“I was much more focused in everything I did, inside and outside the ring,” he said. “In a fight like this, one mistake can cost you. So, I want to make sure I’m 100 percent prepared.
“I managed my weight better. I got my rest. I ran more than I’ve ever run. I haven’t been distracted by the extra media attention. Everything’s gone great.”
His longtime trainer, Pat Barry, noticed the difference.
“Diego’s always diligent when he trains,” Barry said. “But this time, there’s been a little more purpose to everything he’s done. He’s as sharp as I’ve ever seen him for a fight, and I’ve been with him since he was 9 years old.”
Magdaleno said he can win the fight by being smart and outboxing Martinez, who likes to come in and look to land the big punch.
“Martinez is a tough guy, but he does the same thing in virtually every fight,” Magdaleno said. “He looks to crowd you and try to land the big one. But he leaves himself open, and you can hit him. But you can’t be reckless against him. He has power, and he can hurt you.”
Magdaleno will be fighting outside the United States for the first time, and he said fighting in China is better than meeting Martinez in his native Puerto Rico.
“He didn’t want to fight me in Vegas; I can understand that,” Magdaleno said. “I think it’s a more level playing field in China, even though it’s a long ways away.”
Barry’s concerns are environmental. The change in time zones will be a challenge — Macau is 15 hours ahead of Las Vegas. Also, the accommodations, the food, the water and even the air his fighter breathes will take some getting used to.
“We’re going to control things the best we can,” Barry said, adding he wasn’t sure where Magdaleno will do his daily running and who will prepare his meals. “We’ll get that worked out when we get over there, but (Top Rank chairman) Bob Arum has assured me that we’ll be well-taken care of in China, and I trust Bob.”
Magdaleno said he’ll leave the logistics to his team and stay focused on the task at hand.
“That’s why we’re getting to China early, so we can get adjusted and make sure we’re ready to go at full capacity on April 6,” he said.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.