It's a sunny Saturday afternoon in Lodi, Calif., and Nick Diaz isn't taking any steps backwards. Not today. For five rounds of boxing, forward seems to be the only direction the Strikeforce welterweight champion knows. It doesn't matter what you're throwing at him. He's going head first, full speed ahead until you make him stop or kill yourself trying.
"Straight down the middle, that's it!" shouts Diaz's boxing coach, Richard Perez.
With his snow-white hair and gregarious disposition, Perez is a little like Santa Claus in a sleeveless t-shirt. He leans against the cage and shouts more encouragement than instruction as Diaz bulls his way forward against a series of smaller, quicker sparring partners. They come bouncing in and go dragging out in rotating shifts. Perez tells them to circle. That's what "this guy" will do, he says.LINK