The veteran lightweight contender applies life lessons to the ring as he prepares to face Isaac Cruz in a world title eliminator Saturday night on SHOWTIME PPV.
What makes a man? It's a question that now, more than ever, has been a topic of conversation.
A wise man once said that being a "real" man is simple: Work hard at what you do, live up to your responsibilities, and accept that part of your role in life is to make sacrifices for your loved ones. Until you can do all three, happily and without fuss, he said, you're not a man, you're just a male.
Lightweight contender Diego "2Fuego" Magdaleno (32-3, 13 KOs) is an expert in the field of what constitutes manhood in modern times.
Not only has the Las Vegas native been in the hurt business of boxing for the last thirteen years, he's also a single father with majority custody of his three-year-old son Diego Jr., working hard to provide monetarily while fighting to be the male role model a young boy needs.
"Now I know someone is always watching my every move, so I have to be mindful of my decisions," Magdaleno said. "I’ve created a family that I love and I call mine. Fatherhood has changed me, made my life change dramatically from what I watch to what I listen to. From the moment my son arrived, I knew I’d do anything in my power to protect [him]. I knew in that very moment I’d fight as hard as possible to give him safety, peace and security."
That drive to excel as a man and as a role model keeps pushing him forward as a fighter as well, even when most would've lost faith and direction. The converted southpaw came up short in world title bids against Roman Martinez in 2013 and Terry Flanagan in 2015. In 2019, he suffered his toughest defeat when he was stopped in seven rounds by fast-rising future world champ Teofimo Lopez.
"That loss was more of learning lesson to myself and where I was in my career," Magdaleno reflected, pointing out that he was not in the best state of mind or level of preparation at the time. "I decided to move forward with what was available and not what was better for me."
He brought in long-time mentor Bones Adams as trainer and rode a wave of confidence to an upset victory over top prospect Austin Dulay in Dulay's hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.
"[Adams is] not only my best friend, he’s also my savior in my corner. I trust him with my life and with the wisdom he provides. [He] gives me strength and confidence...That fight in Nashville clearly showed [the benefit of Adams' guidance]."
Adams has been a second father-figure role model since he was a 21-year-old young pro sharing gym space with a wide-eyed 9-year-old Diego.
“ I'm fighting for my family. ” Lightweight Contender - Diego Magdaleno
Now the duo moves on to Magdaleno's next challenge, another top prospect, 21-year-old Isaac Cruz Gonzalez. Magdaleno and Cruz will battle in an IBF world title eliminator on Saturday, October 31 at the Alamodome in San Antonio Texas. The fight could steal the show on a SHOWTIME pay-per-view (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) headlined by Gervonta Davis taking on Leo Santa Cruz in an anticipated showdown.
A win puts Magdaleno in line for a third world title shot.
"I’ve always been an exciting fighter and with a crowd in San Antonio it will just add more fuel to my Fuego,” said Magdaleno. “I know the magnitude of this fight and it will propel me to a world title, which has always been a dream I have."
At 33 years of age, facing a foe 12 years his junior, Magdaleno plans to use his wisdom and the lessons learned from a lifetime of mentorship, first from his disciplinarian father and then from Adams, to take his next step toward a new future.
To help further build a base of blue collar grit, he's taken much of his training to small-town Scipio, Utah, where hard-work ranch life has been integrated into his preparation. The old school lifestyle has also reinforced an old school dedication to family.
"Training here and being around the other families, I realize what's important to me. Now that I have a three-year-old, that's who I fight for. I'm fighting for my family."
Fueled by family and the responsibility of fatherhood, Magdaleno has matured as a man while also maturing as a fighter. His five-year plan not only includes a world title, but also a career in real estate and some behind-the-mic work with new partners, Premier Boxing Champions.
"I see myself as the Real Estate Champ making a killing in both Las Vegas, NV and St. George Utah. I also see myself doing live commentary with PBC. Recently, in an interview with Steve Farhood, we jokingly spoke about me taking his job once I decide to take on a new career after boxing."
For well-traveled pro Diego Magdaleno, it took a professional lifetime to get back to basics, to simplify life and have true purpose in his efforts. And now that he has that focus, he insists nothing will keep him down ever again. Because manhood, at its core, is about working hard, persevering, and never losing sight of what's really important.
For a closer look at Diego Magdaleno, check out his fighter page.
- Diego Magdaleno