Diego Magdaleno preps for another shot at title

Diego Magdaleno is looking for another world title shot at 130 pounds. The Las Vegan will take the first step toward that goal Saturday when he meets Ernie Sanchez in the 10-round main event of Top Rank’s boxing card at Hawaiian Gardens, Calif.

Magdaleno (24-1, nine knockouts) fought for the WBO super featherweight title in April in Macau, losing a 12-round split decision to Rocky Martinez. He left trainer Pat Barry shortly thereafter and has been working with Joel Diaz in Indio, Calif., and also hired Frank Espinoza as his manager.

Magdaleno, 27, thinks he will get another title shot this year, but he knows one slip-up could cost him.

“There’s more pressure on me, but I’m very relaxed,” Magdaleno said. “I think having my team with me now has me more confident. I don’t have to worry about who I’m going to fight or if I’m going to get another shot. Frank’s taking care of everything on the outside, and Joel’s on my butt in the gym. We train hard every day, and I’m always learning something new.”

Magdaleno should handle Sanchez (14-5, five KOs). Then, he would love to fight WBO champion Mikey Garcia, who defeated Martinez in November and Juan Carlos Burgos in January. But Garcia is likely headed up to lightweight, and the title would go vacant.

Should that happen, Magdaleno wants to be in position to get a chance.

“I’ll let Frank and Top Rank handle that stuff,” he said. “My focus is on getting sharper and better, and Joel’s doing a great job. I had some minor flaws, such as my distance and my footwork, and he’s corrected that. I’m landing more powerful punches and throwing my punches with more confidence.”

Magdaleno’s younger brother Jessie also will fight on the card. Jessie Magdaleno (17-0, 13 KOs) will meet Roberto Castaneda (20-5-1, 15 KOs) in an eight-round super bantamweight bout.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve fought the same night,” Diego Magdaleno said. “But he’s doing great, and there’s always a lot of energy when we’re in the building together.”

■ COMMISSION VACANCY — With the recent death of T.J. Day, the Nevada Athletic Commission has a vacancy on its five-member panel.

Day, 64, died unexpectedly Jan. 24. The cause of death was not announced. He had been on the commission since 2005.

“T.J. brought great perspective to this commission and served with distinction,” commission chairman Francisco Aguilar said. “During times of animated discussion, he would be the voice of reason.”

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval will appoint Day’s replacement. In the meantime, the NAC will continue to function with Aguilar, Bill Brady, Skip Avansino and Pat Lundvall.

“T.J. is an old friend,” Sandoval said Saturday. “I think everyone is still grieving. Let’s give it a little time. I think we’ll be able to function with four for now.”

The commission also is looking for an executive director to replace Keith Kizer, who resigned in January. Thirty-two applicants are under consideration.

■ OFFICIALS REHIRED — The commission on Friday renewed the licenses of six boxing referees and 16 judges. One name was noticeably absent from the list of judges — C.J. Ross.

Ross, a judge in Nevada since the early 1980s, did not reapply for her license. She was involved in two major scoring controversies in 2012 and 2013 — the first involving Manny Pacquiao’s split decision loss to Timothy Bradley in 2012 and the second involving Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s majority decision over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in September.

Ross had Bradley winning the fight with Pacquiao and gave Alvarez a draw in a fight Mayweather clearly won. She stepped down three days after the Alvarez-Mayweather bout.

Also missing from the list is Duane Ford, who also scored the Pacquiao-Bradley fight in Bradley’s favor. Ford retired last summer to become president of the North American Boxing Federation.

Returning judges from Nevada will be Bob Bennett, Adalaide Byrd, Tim Cheatham, Lisa Giampa, Dick Houck, Robert Hoyle, Patricia Morse-Jarman, Al Lefkowitz, Dave Moretti, Ricardo Ocasio, Jerry Roth, Glenn Trowbridge, Eric Cheek, Burt Clements, Herb Santos and Pat Schellin.

The returning referees are Kenny Bayless, Robert Byrd, Vic Drakulich, Russell Mora, Jay Nady and Tony Weeks.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.