By Chris Cella
On Saturday, April 27, while Danny Garcia and Zab Judah are going to war at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, USA, former unified world champion Amir “King” Khan will take on former world champion Julio “The Kidd” Diaz back on English soil. It has been nearly two years since the UK native battled on home soil, when he defeated Paul McCloskey via sixth round in defense of his WBA world light welterweight title.
“April 27th is going to be a special night,” said Khan. “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. 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 matchup. He may have other ideas but I’m adamant that my return to the British shores is going to be a very successful one.”
For three years Khan sat atop the light welterweight division, taking down one top contender after another. In 2011 he surrendered his titles and ended his dominating run when he lost a controversial split decision to Lamont Peterson, where he was twice deducted a point in rounds 7 and 12 for pushing. In his next fight against Danny Garcia he was upset and outmatched, and lost by way of 4th round TKO. So it was back to the drawing board for the former champion, and he came back strong against Carlos Molina in December to end the year strong.
Julio Diaz hasn’t held the belt above his head in nearly six years, and since 2007 has been unable to mount a winning streak excessive of two fights. But since his KO loss to former champion Kendall Holt in 2011, Diaz went 2-0-1 in 2012, winning twice by KO and maintaining as a welterweight threat.
At 33-years-old in a division full of blossoming talent, there is much on the line for both fighters. Khan will be entering the ring a heavy favorite, but on paper that means nothing. He came into the Garcia a big time favorite and was overmatched through four rounds of action. For Diaz this may be the end of the road; one final hurrah to see if he still has what it takes to throw hands with elite competition.
“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.”
As Khan prepares for Diaz, he also has his mind of saying ‘I do’ to his fiancé a month after the fight. The 26-year-old Khan is set to give his nuptials to Faryal Makhdoom in May in front of countless friends, family and celebrities, including one of England’s favorite boxing son’s, Ricky Hatton.
One has to wonder if the fight is alleviating the stress of the wedding, or in turn the wedding is alleviating the stress of the fight.
The fight is scheduled to air live on Showtime April 27.