By Chris Cella
Live from the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom, tomorrow former champions Amir “King” Khan and Julio “The Kidd” Diaz will meet in the squared circle as both pugilists eye a potential contention fight in the near future.
Khan (27-3, 19 KO) is a former unified world champion and dominated the lightweight and light welterweight divisions for more than a few years. But his championship status came to an abrupt halt when he lost a controversial decision to Lamont Peterson in 2011, and followed that performance up with a knockout loss at the hands of Danny Garcia. In the lone fight since Khan stopped then undefeated prospect Carlos Molina in 10 rounds, and has his eyes set on the division’s best fighters if he gets through Diaz.
“I need to keep winning and work my way back to the world titles,” Khan told AFP. “I’m determined to win them again. I’m staying at light welterweight because I want to fight Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia again—I have unfinished business with them and want to avenge my losses. This fight will take me to a world title shot, hopefully in my next bout. Julio has a good KO ratio; I have a lot of respect for accepting this challenge. Diaz is an experienced fighter and they are the difficult ones to beat.”
It’s been over six years since Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KO) has raised the hardware, but has fought consistently against strong opponents and won the fights he has had to in order to remain in the welterweight mix. The heavy-handed Diaz may not see any more opportunities to move up to a contender role as he is 33 and aging in a young man’s game, and he understands the importance of the matchup with Khan. Going into Khan’s backyard, his game plan is simple—do not leave the fight in the judge’s hands.
“I’m not going to England for the fight to go to the scorecards. I’m fighting for the knockout,” said Diaz. “I know the knockout is the only thing that will get me the win, 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.”
Khan hasn’t fought on his home soil since defeating Paul McCloskey in 2011 and will be anxious to put on a show for his loyal fans and fiancé—who he plans to wed next month.
This fight will be an indication if Khan has what it takes to get back to champion status or if his time has passed, as well as if Diaz can still hang with the big boys.
Khan-Diaz can be seen on Showtime tomorrow night preceding the title fight between Danny Garcia and Zab Judah, beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern.