Boxing Star Diego Pacheco Explains Why There’s No Substitute for Hard Sparring


Boxing sensation Diego Pacheco will put his mental and physical preparation to the ultimate test for the first time in England, when he takes on Jack Cullen in a clash for the vacant WBO International super-middleweight title on Saturday night in Liverpool.

M&F was fortunate enough to get up close and personal with the Los Angeles native on his 22nd birthday, just 48 hours away from bell-time, and soon found out that you don’t get to 17-0-0 by training lightly.

Putting on the gloves since the age of 10, the Mexican-American sensation racked up eight national championships throughout his amateur career. During that time, the Pacheco was ranked top of the heap in both the Unites States and Mexico.

Then, at just 17, he turned professional by signing with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing promotion. The rising star won his pro debut by knocking out Luis Carlos Gonzalez, swiftly in the first round, and now stands with a 17-match winning streak—an astounding 14 of those wins have come by way of a knockout, including his most recent that brought him the WBC United States super-middleweight belt.

Still, the man they call “Little Lever’s Meat Cleaver” Jack Cullen is dangerous too. The Englishman has amassed his own record of 25-3-1, knocking out nine opponents along the way. Cullen is the IBF International super-middleweight champion and shares the same hopes of doubling his gold. For Pacheco to take the WBO title home on Saturday night, it will take everything he’s got.

Diego Pacheco seeks out the best trainers for hard sparring

Boxer Diego Pacheco on the red carpet holding a championship belt
Matchroom Boxing

Standing at 6’4”, Pacheco is known for his long reach, agility, and timing. He also packs tremendous power in his punches. Having seen the fighter take part in an open ring workout on Wednesday, there’s little doubt that Pacheco has travelled overseas for no other reason than to win. But to understand his methods better, we need to go back a little.

After turning pro, Pacheco found that harder opponents forced him into longer matches, and so he decided to push himself further in training in order to reflect the heightened competition in the pro division and that meant finding harder task masters. Eager to develop superior skill, he joined the famed Team Benavidez to train with the championship family. Since then, Pacheco has been seen working with a resistance speed parachute attached to his waist on the beach in San Diego, but in addition to innovative methods of training, the hot prospect has also been practicing the fundamentals of striking and footwork, over and over again in his fight camp in Seattle, WA.

“Just hard sparring,” Pacheco tells M&F, explaining that with 12 rounds now on the clock, there’s nothing more important than logging important information from the best partners. “It’s a whole different atmosphere and a whole different state,” he explains of the move to Seattle, where he’s been able to spar with the likes of two-time super-middleweight champion, David Benavidez. “No friends up there, you know? No family up there, it’s just boxing,” he continues, explaining the complete focus that he has on climbing the mountain without any distractions. In sparring, Pacheco has undoubtedly been working with more seasoned opponents, but he’s also been taught to increase the volume of punches that he can throw and has built up lightning like speed after working closely with world renowned coach Jose Benavidez Sr, who saw the potential in him from their first session.

Diego Pacheco blends tradition with innovative training methods

While Pacheco has used the aforementioned resistance chute for running, he also uses old-school methods to work on his neck and shoulder strength with exercises such as biting down on a rag, tied to a weighted plate in order to execute old fashioned neck raises. Pacheco moved into shared accommodation with other boxers on the team, so that he could literally live and breathe the sport. And, while there, he not only hits the property’s gym, but is also provided with the right foods for his training, and even has recovery taken care of with on-site massage.

Now thousands of miles away from home or basecamp, in the city of Liverpool, Pacheco’s undeniable focus on boxing will be put to the test against the worthy Cullen, who also has a long reach and stands at 6’3”. Still, Pacheco says that he is most stimulated when there’s something to prove and is even hoping to win over some fans in the U.K. Pacheco is striving to make this his best birthday weekend ever. “I’ve been a bit busy, but I’ve been enjoying every moment of it,” he says. “I’m not taking any moment for granted.”

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