Big plans are in store in the year ahead for Diego Pacheco.
The vision board was already being updated heading into his previous outing, when he made quick work of Mexico’s Adrian Luna. A second-round knockout on the December 3 undercard of the Juan Francisco Estrada-Roman ‘Chocolatito’ rubber match in Glendale, Arizona wrapped up a four-win campaign for the unbeaten 21-year-old super middleweight. All came by knockout and each with aspirations of a major step up in class in his near future.
That wish was granted in the form of a regional title fight with England’s Jack Cullen, which now headlines a March 11 DAZN show from M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England.
“I’m really excited,” Pacheco told BoxingScene.com. “My last fight was supposed to be big, a step up in class. We were set to fight this undefeated Russian fighter but something happened two weeks before. He pulled out, so they got that replacement (Luna) for me. It was a sensational knockout to end a great year for me.
“Luckily, I didn’t take any punishment. I was able to go right back into the gym and focus on what was next and that’s Jack Cullen. That’s who has been on my mind this whole year, basically. I’ve been in camp training hard because I know he’s going to be a good opponent. I just hope he brings the best out of me.”
Their bout now serves as the main even
It’s a bold—and perhaps even scary—statement to make for Pacheco (21-0, 17KOs), who emerged from 2022 as one of the sport’s top prospects. He has scored knockout wins in each of his last six starts, though the early nights have fueled the desire for an elevated level in competition.
The wish was honored by Matchroom Boxing, who signed a then 17-year-old Pacheco straight out of the amateurs in 2018. Matchroom also promotes Cullen (21-3-1, 9KOs), who has produced mixed reviews upon stepping up in class but is always in entertaining bouts. The aggressive matchup was elevated to main event when Liverpool’s Callum Smith suffered an untimely injury in withdrawing from a scheduled light heavyweight clash versus Poland’s Pawel Stepien.
Pacheco—a stablemate of and chief sparring partner for unbeaten former WBC super middleweight titlist David Benavidez—will spend fight week celebrating his 22nd birthday, which he hopes to follow with his 22nd pro win and in his biggest test to date.
“It’s the right time for these fights. I’ve been asking for a matchup like this for a while,” insisted Pacheco. “Usually, these guys price themselves out or they simply just don’t want to fight me.
“I think it’s a good time like this, especially for a WBO International belt. I feel like I’m on the right path and I’m just really excited.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox