In the week following Floyd Mayweather Jr's. announcement to leave HBO and sign a lucrative multi-year deal with Showtime, Golden Boy Promotions has kept punching and landing. It has been confirmed that former light welterweight champion Amir Khan will return to the United Kingdom for the first time in two years to continue re-building his career when he faces former two-time lightweight beltholder Julio Diaz at Sheffield's 12,000-capacity Motorpoint Arena on April 27. This bout will serve as a co-feature to the Showtime televised Danny Garcia vs. Zab Judah WBA/WBC light welterweight championship, and this big-time boxing match will be held later that evening at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Barclays Center is a billion dollar made stadium, and this structure that will almost certainly impede upon rival HBO's scheduled fight that features WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez's return to his native Argentina against Martin Murray; both fights take place on the same night.
Khan (27-3, 19 KO's) was tentatively targeted to return to the ring on April 20 following his impressive victory over Carlos Molina in December. Reports suggested that Vyacheslav Senchenko, Juan Manuel Marquez, Humberto Soto, Tim Bradley, Josesito Lopez and Jessie Vargas had all turned down a fight with the Bolton boxer, eating into precious training time to prepare for what is an important fight for Khan to re-establish himself within the sport; Khan suffered two consecutive crushing losses to Lamont Peterson in December 2011 and Danny Garcia in July 2012.
It was then announced on Monday that fellow Golden Boy and two-division champion Abner Mares would face WBC featherweight titleholder Daniel Ponce De Leon on April 20 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, with Josesito Lopez-Marcos Maidana as a possible co-feature. This left Khan without both an opponent and a date, but this was only for a temporary basis as there greater plans were in the works.
Enter tough Mexican veteran Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KO's). It is not so much the opponent that makes this fight compelling so much as it is the intent of its structure. This will be the 26-year old Khan's first fight in the United Kingdom since April 16, 2011; Khan dominated Irishman Paul McCloskey by winning a sixth round technical decision in the fourth defense of his WBA light welterweight title. This, coupled with Khan's ongoing efforts to rebuild his career and reach championship heights once again under the guidance of new trainer Virgil Hunter, makes for a tremendous draw among the knowledgeable and dedicated British fight fans.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer has indicated that Khan-Diaz will be aired live on Showtime in the afternoon and again on a delayed basis as part of the live broadcast of Garcia-Judah. The multiple broadcasts of the Khan fight will increase the chances of as many fans as possible watching it, with the replay serving as a very strong lead-in to a championship fight featuring the man who upset the once-highly regarded Brit last July.
Not only will this generate more viewers, but it is expected to pull fans away from the Martinez-Murray fight being televised that night on HBO. The Argentine-born Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KO's), who relocated to Spain in 2002 and now resides in Oxnard, California, has not fought in Argentina since February 2002 and it will be his first since winning a dominant 12-round unanimous decision over previously undefeated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last September.
It is expected to be an overwhelming homecoming for the 38-year old champion, who is undefeated in Argentina since turning pro in 1997. He has won 24 of 25 bouts with one draw later avenged. The fight was officially announced in December by the country's President, Cristina de Kirchner, at which time it was revealed that it would be shown live on public TV Channel 7 in Argentina. This will allow 40 million Argentines to see their champion defend his title on free television.
The enthusiasm may not extend beyond the country, however. Although Murray (25-0-1, 11 KO's) is an undefeated native of the United Kingdom, he does not possess the same appeal as Khan, and he does not have any exposure with the American fan base, having never fought in the United States in his 26 fights.
What's the main point? Battles in boxing take place all over the world, both inside and out of the ring.
Also:Amir Khan, Boxing, Julio Diaz, Martin Murray, Sergio Martinez