Two-time lightweight titlewinner Julio Diaz may be 0-2-1 in his past three fights, but those three bouts were a draw and a unanimous decision loss against unbeaten current IBF welterweight beltholder Shawn Porter and a close decision setback to former 140-pound titleholder Amir Khan.
In succession, Diaz drew with Porter in December 2012, floored Khan in the fourth round in April of last year and was outpointed in December by Porter, whose next two bout were a unanimous decision that dethroned Devon Alexander in December, and a fourth-round knockout over two-division titlewinner Paulie Malignaggi, whom Porter dropped twice.
On April 26, the 34-year-old Diaz (40-9-1, 29 knockouts) will face the 25-year-old Keith Thurman (22-0, 20 KOs) in the main event of a Showtime-televised tripleheader on April 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
RING No. 1-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse will fight John Molina on the Thurman-Diaz undercard. Promoted by Golden Boy, Thurman sees the fight with Diaz as "a measuring stick" to assess himself against results achieved by two of the sport's more elite boxers.
"I am here to my job, man. But I know the history. I know why this fight was made. Golden Boy wanted to use Julio Diaz as a measuring stick," said Thurman, whose bout with Diaz will be supported by THE RING's number one-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse opposite rugged lightweight puncher John Molina and WBC lightweight titleholder Omar Figueroa Jr. against former amateur nemesis Jerry Belmontes.
"Amir Khan is a top-10 fighter, and he beat Julio Diaz, but he barely beat him, and some people think that fight was a draw. Shawn Porter fought Julio Diaz and fought him to a draw the first time. He fought him the second time, and won unanimously. So this is just a test for me, man, so they can see if I'm as hungry as I claim that I am."
In his last fight, Thurman scored knockdowns in the fifth and final rounds of a ninth-round technical stoppage victory over Jesus Soto Karass in December. In his previous bout, last July, Thurman scored a 10th-round knockout of previously unbeaten Argentine Diego Chaves, whom he dropped once each in the ninth and final rounds to end the loser's streak of five consecutive stoppage wins.
Prior to facing Chaves, Thurman routed ex-beltholder Jan Zaveck over 12 rounds last March to follow up a fourth-round knockout of former titleholder Carlos Quintana in November 2012.
"I'm always going to be me. I was me when I fought Quintana. I was me when I fought Zaveck. I'm Keith 'One Time' Thurman, man. I'm a very well-rounded fighter. I choose how to fight when I'm in that ring. I fight my fight, and my team tells me the adjustments that I should make during the fight. So I'm going to go in there and I'm going to do whatever I need to do," said Thurman.
"Against Diaz, I'm planning on going out there and doing what I've been doing. I'm planning on giving people a good fight. An exciting fight. Once again, as the rounds go on — if the rounds go on — you're going to see different things from Keith 'One Time' Thurman. You're going to see my defense, and you're going to see my ring intelligence. Slowly but surely, you'll always be able to see more from Keith 'One Time' Thurman."
Diaz won the IBF's 135-pound belt on separate occasions by majority decision over Javier Jauregui in May 2004 and by unanimous decision over Ricky Quiles in May 2006. Diaz lost the belt he won from Jauregui in his following bout by 10th-round stoppage against Jose Luis Castillo in March 2005.
During his second reign, Diaz made one defense of the title, stopping Jesus Chavez in the third round in February 2007 before being dethroned by Juan Diaz in a ninth-round knockout loss in October 2007.
Diaz has also been knocked out in one, three and five rounds by Juan Valenzuela, Kendall Holt and Rolando Reyes, respectively.
"I plan on making statement, because both fighters who fought Diaz, they didn't stop him. Shawn Porter fought him twice and didn't stop him. Amir Khan didn't stop him. Matter of fact, neither of them even dropped him," said Thurman.
"I do plan on making a statement come Saturday night against Julio Diaz. I'm going to look for that opening. I'm always looking for that opening. That one shot. Whether it be to the head or the body, I'm looking for it and I'm gunning for it from the opening bell to the final bell."
During an interview with RingTV.com, however, Diaz said that he planned to use his veteran skills to "break down" and "finish" Thurman.
"I'm not looking for a decision. I think that with a puncher like Keith Thurman, and with the way that I punch and the combinations that I have, this fight will not go to a decision. Either way that it goes, I'm pretty sure that it won't go to a decision," said Diaz.
"So I'm not even thinking about a decision. I have to keep my head this time against Thurman. In this case, we're going to work round-by-round and sort of break down Keith Thurman and then try to get him where I want him to be and to be able to finish off the fight."
Thurman's trainer, Dan Birmingham, see things a lot differently.
"Keith looks better than ever. I mean, he's just ripped and ready and strong," said Birmingham. "We've done our homework, and I've watched the Porter fights with Diaz, and I just think that it's a mismatch, but we'll see."