When Diego Magdaleno left trainers Pat Barry and Augie Sanchez in May and hired Joel Diaz to train him and Frank Espinoza to manage him, it figured his younger brother Jessie wouldn’t be far behind.
Sure enough, Jessie Magdaleno left Barry and Sanchez in August to work with Diaz. Tonight, the 21-year-old undefeated super bantamweight returns to Las Vegas, where he will face Raul Hidalgo in a six-round bout at the Thomas &Mack Center.
“I’m really pumped,” Magdaleno (16-0, 12 knockouts) said of his fight with the 24-year-old Hidalgo (19-9, 14 KOs), which originally was scheduled for eight rounds but was scaled back to accommodate television. “It’s been three months since I left Vegas, but it feels a lot longer.”
The card, which is being promoted by Top Rank, features another undefeated Las Vegan — welterweight Jessie Vargas (22-0, nine KOs) — in the 10-round main event against Ray Narh (26-3, 21 KOs). Admission is free, thanks to Tecate beer. Fans who want to attend the fight card can do so by showing up at the Thomas &Mack box office (doors open at 6 p.m.) to obtain their ticket.
They’ll see an improved fighter in Magdaleno, who said he’s picked up a few things in the short time he has been with Diaz, the trainer of WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, who faces Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday at the Thomas &Mack.
“It’s been an eye-opener for me,” Magdaleno said of working with Diaz. “He’ll see little things that nobody else sees, and he’ll correct them. Things like dropping my hands or not creating enough distance between myself and my opponent. And he’s got me sparring with bigger, tougher guys, and it’s really helping me.”
Diaz, who oversaw Magdaleno’s corner for the first time when he stopped Luis Maldonado in the third round on Aug. 24 in Glendale, Calif., said he is working with a talented and special fighter.
“This guy is a world champion in the making,” Diaz said. “I can’t see anyone at 122 pounds who can beat him. He’s got great confidence and power, and the only thing he’s lacking is championship experience, and he will get there, believe me.”
Diego Magdaleno’s split from Pat Barry and his wife, Dawn, was acrimonious. Jessie’s departure wasn’t much better. The Barrys believed they still would be working with Jessie after Diego left them last May, and they sat down with Jessie about what he wanted to do.
At the time, Jessie committed to staying with the Barrys. But once Jessie saw what Diego was doing with Diaz in Southern California, he decided to join him.
“We’ve always been together, and it was strange not being in the gym with Diego,” Jessie said. “It didn’t feel right. I wasn’t comfortable.”
First bell for the eight-bout card is 7 p.m. UniMas (Channel 64) will televise the card locally on a delayed basis beginning at 8:30.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913.Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.