Former IBF/WBA junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan will face former two-time lightweight beltholder Julio Diaz, of Coachella, Calif., in a 143-pound catchweight clash at The Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England, on April 27, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Thursday.
Khan (27-3, 19 knockouts) will fight Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KOs) on a broadcast to be shown live in the afternoon and again on a delayed basis as part of the live Showtime telecast of a defense by RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) against former titleholder Zab Judah.
Garcia-Judah will happen later that evening at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“April 27 is going to be a special night. It’s been two years since I last fought in the United Kingdom, and I can’t wait to get in the ring in front of my fans,” said Khan, who is coming off December’s 10th-round stoppage of Carlos Molina (18-1-1, 7 KOs), of Norwalk, Calif., which represented his first fight under BWAA Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter.
“Julio Diaz is a former world champion, and a very dangerous opponent who is coming off of an impressive performance in his last fight. I know he will be coming with guns blazing and I’m ready for whatever he has to throw at me. With my speed and boxing skills, and his power and experience, it makes for a really exciting match up. He may have other ideas but I’m adamant that my return to the British shores is going to be a very successful one.”
Diaz is 2-0-1 since being stopped in the third round by Kendall Holt in May of 2011, and is coming off a draw with unbeaten welterweight prospect Shawn Porter (20-0, 14 KOs). Diaz has fought his past three bouts as a welterweight.
Prior to facing Molina, Khan had lost two straight by split-decision to current IBF beltholder Lamont Peterson in December of 2011, and by fourth-round stoppage to Garcia in July of last year.
“I’m not going to England for the fight to go to the scorecards. I’m fighting for the knockout. I know the knockout is the only thing that will get me the win,” said Diaz.
“So I’m training extra hard already in order to get a victory on Khan’s home turf. I’m a heavy hitter and he can’t take a punch, so to me, that is the perfect combination.”
Set to make their professional debuts on the card in England are 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo, of Great Britain, who signed with Golden Boy in December, and flyweight Haroon Khan, Amir’s younger brother.
“I’m proud to be British, and so the opportunity to turn pro on such a big fight card in England is a dream come true. I want to become a world champion, and this is the first very important step,” said Ogogo.
“I know what I have to do, and that is to win, and I want to win in style. I can’t wait to show the British public what I can do, and will be training as hard as I possibly can between now and April 27 to get myself in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”
Prior to Garcia-Judah, Showtime’s “All-Access” will preview events in the respective camps of the fighters participating on the May 4 Showtime Pay Per view clash between pound-for-pound king and WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather (43-0, 26 knockouts) and WBC interim beltholder Robert Guerrero.
“April 27 is going to be a great night for boxing in the U.K. and a great night for Golden Boy Promotions,” said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who will be in England with Khan, while Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya handles the Garcia-Judah card.
“Between Amir Khan returning home where he is immensely popular, and the pro debut of our newest prospect Anthony Ogogo, this is a great way to jump start an amazing run of fights that Golden Boy Promotions will be a part of in England for many years to come.”
Everything will begin in Sheffield.
“We’re excited to return to England and bring the loyal British fans the return of Amir Khan on April 27. Amir is closing in on a shot at regaining his world champion status,” said De La Hoya.
“I know he’s going to use the energy from the crowd in Sheffield to motivate him. Standing in his way will be a dangerous opponent in Julio Diaz, who is on a hot streak of his own that he expects to keep intact in England.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]