Vegas’ Magdaleno to defend NABF title tonight

Jesus Magdaleno wanted his first-born son to become a soccer superstar.

Magdaleno—a native of Mexico, who moved to the states when he just a teenager—took his son Diego (whose namesake comes from Argentine legend Diego Maradona) to the soccer fields every day after school in Los Angeles.

Diego Magdaleno enjoyed the bonding experience and even the game of futbol, but Jesus’ grand plan had one fatal flaw: the route to the park ran past a boxing gym that piqued the young Magdaleno’s mind.

“I would just stare at that gym everyday when we went by,” Diego said with a laugh. “I never really knew what it was, but I just saw the ring in the center of the gym and the bags hanging down and it really just caught my eye.

“I was kind of an aggressive kid, so boxing was more hands on and I just fell in love with it.”

The boxing romance seems to have blossomed quite nicely for the now undefeated 25-year-old Magdaleno, who puts his 20-0 record and NABF Super Featherweight title on the line tonight against Mexico’s Emmanuel Lucero (28-7-1) at 5 p.m. tonight at Mandalay Bay—a warm-up event for tomorrow’s showdown between pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manual Marquez.

“Everybody comes from all over the world to Vegas for the main fight, but I kind of feel like tonight is a co-fight because there is so much energy in the building,” said Magdaleno, who fought on a card the day before Pacquiao’s victory over Shane Mosley in May.

“I always like to put on a good show.”

But he’s definitely not underestimating Lucero, who actually fought Pacquiao in 2003—losing via a third-round KO.

“He’s gonna come out swinging, he’s been in the ring with some great fighters. I give him a lot of respect for that, but there’s a couple of things I picked up that I can use to my advantage I believe,” Magdaleno said.

While Diego might not have followed in his father’s soccer-fanatical footsteps, another Magdaleno did as Diego’s younger brother Jesus was a standout soccer player in the Vegas Valley.

The only problem, he’s also an undefeated boxer, who recently signed with Top Rank, Diego’s promotion company.

“My dad is one of the biggest soccer fanatics in the world. Soccer is his life, it’s something he wanted to pursue when he was young, but he didn’t have the time, the proper support behind him,” Diego said.

“He wanted to see that in me, luckily he got to see it with my brother—kinda. But I think he likes boxing.”