Jo Jo Diaz’s clash with Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov on Saturday night took a dramatic twist on Friday, with the Californian stripped of his title on the scales.
Diaz (31-1, 15 KOs) was set to make a first defence of the title he claimed from Tevin Farmer in Miami last January, but weighed in at 133.6lbs, 3.6lbs over the contracted limit, meaning the belt is only at stake for Rakhimov at Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio.
Should the former champion win the bout, the strap will remain vacant.
Diaz has been in with and beaten quality operators such as Jayson Velez (UD10), Andrew Cancio (TKO9), Manuel Avila (UD10) and Victor Terrazas (KO3).
His only setback was a May 2018 bid for Gary Russel Junior’s WBC Featherweight title, where he lost a competitive fight on the cards.
He is unbeaten in five since that loss, and the 28-year-old turned in a career best display to usurp Farmer in 2020.
Rakhimov (15-0, 12 KOs) won the vacant IBO bauble in 2017, outscoring Emanuel Lopez in Russia, and he defended three times against low key opposition before vacating.
Born in Tajikistan, the 26-year-old has only ventured outside of his Russian homeland once, and that came in his last fight.
In September 2019, he travelled to South Africa, and stopped the previously unbeaten Azinga Fuzile in eight in East London. Rakhimov has good pedigree, but facing Diaz is a significant step up for him.
🇺🇸 DIAZ LOSES IBF BELT ON SCALES ⚖️
🥊 @JosephDiazJr has been stripped of his IBF Super Featherweight title after weighing in 3.6lbs over the 130lbs limit ahead of a scheduled defence against Shavkat Rakhimov.
— Pro Boxing Fans (@ProBoxingFans) February 12, 2021
Prediction: Diaz is very underrated, and he fully deserved his win over Farmer to finally become world champion.
It’s unclear just how good Rakhimov is, and we will find this out on Saturday night. Diaz should be able to negotiate some early onslaughts to take over from halfway and record a clear points win.
The second part of the world title doubleheader sees Patrick Teixeira (31-1, 22 KOs) defend his WBO Super Welterweight title for the first time.
The Sao Paulo native returns after some near 15 months away from the ring to take on the dangerous Brian Carlos Castano (16-0-1, 12 KOs) in a South American derby.
A second round knockout of Patrick Allotey in April 2015 opened doors for Teixeira, but two fights later saw his first and only pro defeat, stopped in two by the experienced Curtis Stevens in May 2016.
Patrick has taken five decision wins on the bounce since, and his last appearance came in December 2019, where he claimed the interim WBO belt, dropping Carlos Adames in the seventh before taking an unanimous win.
He was elevated to full champion after Jaimie Munguia vacated the belt, and his first defence comes against Argentine banger Castano.
The Buenos Aires resident is a live challenger, and a former WBA champion, defeating Cedric Vitu with a twelfth round stoppage in March 2018.
The only blot on his professional slate came in March 2019, where he held the slippery Cuban, Erislandy Lara, to a split draw.
Castano also last boxed in November 2019, and picked up the WBO Intercontinental strap with a fifth round retirement of Wale Omotoso.
Prediction: This could be a very short reign for Teixeira, as Castano has shown his quality before, especially in his contest with Erislandy Lara.
Both can bang, and I expect Castano to get on top after the halfway mark to force a stoppage.
Former WBC Super Bantamweight title challenger, Ronny Rios (32-3, 16 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time in well over a year, and the Californian takes a ten round assignment against California-based Colombian, Oscar Negrete (19-2-2, 7 KOs), who is 2-2-2 in his last six outings.
Prediction: Rios lost on the cards to Rey Vargas in a world title tilt in 2017, and will want to get back to that level. He can do that with a clear points win here.
Son of the legend, Shane Mosley Jr (16-3, 9 KOs) has a Middleweight clash over ten against Cristian Olivas (20-7, 17 KOs). The vacant WBO NABO belt is at stake.
Prediction: Olivas has never been stopped, and Mosley will have to negotiate all ten rounds I feel to get a decision win.
The final ten rounder also comes at Super Bantamweight, where another Rey Vargas victim, and former WBC title challenger, Azat Hovhannisyan (18-3, 15 KOs), should be able to halt Mexico’s Enrique Bernache (24-12, 12 KOs) inside schedule.
There are two eight rounders on the bill. At Super Middleweight, Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5 KOs), who was set to face Sergey Kovalev last month prior to the Russian failing a VADA test, should oust Morgan Fitch (19-4-1, 8 KOs) inside the distance.
At Featherweight, Victor Morales Jr (13-0, 7 KOs) may need the judges to overcome Rodrigo Guerrero (26-9-2, 16 KOs), a former world champion at Super Flyweight, and only previously stopped once.
The sole four rounder comes at Lightweight, where Dalis Kaleiopu makes his professional debut against Eduardo Sanchez (2-3).