By Jake Donovan
It’s safe to say that 2013 will not be a year Miguel Vazquez plans to remember.
The reigning lightweight titlist has not fought in more than 10 months, with that stretch threatening to grow even longer as Saturday’s scheduled defense versus Ammeth Diaz in Tijuana, Mexico is suddenly in jeopardy.
The word from Panama – as first reported on Notifight.com – is that Diaz and his camp have no plans to travel to Mexico for this weekend’s title fight, citing a breakdown in communication and minimal travel recovery time.
Rogelio Espiño, Diaz’ promoter and legal adviser, claims that Zanfer–Vazquez’ promoter, who won the purse bid for the mandatory title defense–dragged its feet in confirming travel itinerary to get the visiting fighter in country from Mexico.
“It wasn’t until (Tuesday evening) when we were sent an email with ticket confirmation,” Espiño told Notifight.com. “We learned of this on Wendesday morning, but was impossible to carry out (the travel plans) since our flight was schedule to leave at 11:00AM.”
IBF rules state that fighters must be in the location of the fight a minimum of three nights prior to the opening bell, to sufficiently recover from jet lag and properly acclimate to surroundings. While an offer was made to change the fight time, it still would not leave Diaz with enough time to recover in accordance with sanctioning body guidelines.
“Ammeth would be at a disadvantage to fight,” claims Espiño. “Our flight was first scheduled to stop in Mexico City and then travel to Tijuana. We will wait for the IBF’s decision. What we can’t allow is for our fighter to be too tired to fight.”
A postponement–or worse, cancellation–would fall in line with what Vazquez has experienced all year long. The long-reigning titlist saw two separate dates with Ricky Burns fall by the wayside, with nothing to show for it. The mandatory title defense versus Diaz was originally scheduled for September 28 in Mexico City, but pushed back four weeks and changing locations.
At best, Vazquez can hope for Saturday’s bout to be rescheduled if not miraculously salvaged overnight. The worst case scenario is that he remains on ice for the rest of the year.
Event handlers are already prepared for the possibility of the main event falling through. Recent advertisements for TV Azteca–which will air the card live (Saturday, 10:30PM ET)–have showcased the evening’s current co-feature, a scheduled 10-round bantamweight battle between unbeaten Daniel Rosas and former 115 lb. titlist Juan Alberto Rosas (not related).
Vazquez (33-3, 13KO) hasn’t fought since his wide points win over then-unbeaten Mercito Gesta last December in Las Vegas. The bout came in supporting capacity to Juan Manuel Marqeuz’ shocking 6th round knockout of Manny Pacquiao in their epic fourth fight.
The win by Vazquez was his fourth of 2012, a year which, ironically enough, began with a shutout win over Diaz. Their Jan. ’12 battle by no means warranted a rematch, but the former titlist punched his way back into contention with an upset win over Martin Gethin on the road in England this past May.
Overall, Vazquez has made five successful defenses he won in vacant capacity, taking a wide decision over Ji-Hoon Kim in Aug. ’10.
Diaz has won two straight since the loss to Vazquez, his lone shot at a major title to date.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox