Joseph Diaz Jr. will now push nearly one full year between bouts by the time he returns to the ring.
A terrific crossroads bout between Diaz and unbeaten lightweight contender William Zepeda will now top a November 19 DAZN telecast, pushed back two weeks from its original November 5 fight date at a yet to be revealed venue in Southern California. The network confirmed the development over the weekend in revealing its current—though not complete—fall schedule.
No reason was given for the date switch, though it reaffirms the decision for the bout to headline its own show. The previous date is occupied by a terrific light heavyweight fight between WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11KOs) and unbeaten mandatory challenger Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (44-0, 30KOs), which will take place in Abu Dhabi. Golden Boy promotes Ramirez and Diaz, though it was never in the cards for both fights to share a bill.
The two-week adjustment will leave Diaz (32-2-1, 15KOs) out of the ring 50 weeks, having not fought since a competitive but clear points loss to Devin Haney in their WBC lightweight title fight last December 4 in Las Vegas. Haney has since collected all of the lightweight titles in a twelve-round win over George Kambosos in their undisputed clash this past June in Melbourne, Australia.
Diaz came up short in his bid to become a two-division titlist, though did at least enjoy a three-fight 2021 campaign.
The former IBF junior lightweight titlist began his year losing his belt at the scales after missing weight ahead of an eventual twelve-round draw with Shavkat Rakhimov last February in Indio, California. Diaz then moved up to lightweight on short notice, replacing Ryan Garcia in a clash with Javier Fortuna whom he outpointed last July 9 in Los Angeles. The win set up a planned showdown with Garcia, who withdrew due to a hand/wrist injury which prompted Diaz to then pursue a shot at Haney’s WBC title fight.
The active 2021 campaign came on the heels of a career-long 13-month gap between fights for Diaz, who now heads into another dangerous assignment following an unwelcomed lengthy inactivity stretch.
Zepeda emerged as a lightweight to watch following a fifth-round knockout of Roberto Ramirez, with the December 2020 clash in Hollywood marking his U.S. debut. It was followed by his best win to date, a mercy stoppage of then-unbeaten Hector Tanajara after six one-sided rounds last July 9 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
The same show saw Diaz outpoint Fortuna in his lightweight debut
The wins over Ramirez and Tanajara served as part of a fifteen-fight knockout streak for Zepeda, a 26-year-old southpaw from San Mateo, Mexico. That run came to an end as he was forced to go the ten-round distance in a unanimous decision win over former 130-pound titlist Rene Alvarado this past May 14 in Ontario, California.
Zepeda represents arguably the stiffest test for any top lightweight, though facing by far his best opponent in Diaz. The initial fight announcement was well-received by the boxing community, the fight desirable enough where the two-week pushback will only heighten anticipation.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox