Unbeaten 168-pounder Diego Pacheco feels the sky is the limit and he can be a world champion when he hits 22.
The highly-touted, 6ft 4ins Californian is still just 20, but dreaming big ahead of his clash with Brazilian Lucas de Abreu (12-0, 11 KOs) at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California, on Saturday, live worldwide on DAZN.
Pacheco’s self-belief has been bolstered by sparring sessions against pound-for-pound No.1 Canelo Alvarez and two-time world champion David Benavidez. He feels he will hit similar world championship heights, having prepared with the super-middleweight elite.
“I’m ambitious,” stated Pacheco (12-0, 9 KOs). “This is meant to be my last eight-round fight and then I am stepping up to ten rounds, I will be 21 in March so I should have been in good ten-rounders and into 12 round fights by the time I am 22, so I think it’s realistic to have a world title fight by 22, why not?
“Abreu is a good boxer – good enough to beat the guys he’s beaten so far – but he’s never faced someone like me, so I am confident, and I feel it’s going to be a good win to have on my resume.
“I am happy with where I am now. The relationship with [promoters] Matchroom has been great since day one and everything has been perfect so far. I walk around at 171lbs or 172lbs. I feel really strong at 168lbs and I think I will be here for a few years, and I’d like to win a title at super-middleweight before moving up, it’s not difficult for me to make weight at all, I stay in the gym, I love the sport and I stay in shape all the time, I do what I have to do to be a great boxer.
“I was in his camp with Canelo for the Callum Smith fight, a guy on his team recommended me for my height because Callum is so tall. The experience was amazing, I learnt so much from him. I knew that he was looking to take away Callum’s left hook as he was practicing on me! He kept hitting my shoulder and I could tell it was a strategy and it worked, and I’ve picked that up from him because I’ve done that with guy sparring partners and had some success.
“I’ve been in camp with David Benavidez and Gabe Rosado ahead of this fight and it’s amazing to be around this level of experience, but it’s not just the things that they tell me, but it gives me the confidence that I’m sparring the best in the world.”
Pacheco’s bout with Abreu is on the undercard of four-weight champion Mikey Garcia’s meeting with European 140lbs champion Sandor Martin this Saturday.
Main image: Matchroom Boxing.