By Jake Donovan
Keith Thurman makes his first ring appearance of the year following a breakout campaign in 2013. The unbeaten welterweight squares off versus former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz in a scheduled 12-round bout, headlining a Showtime-televised triple header at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California.
Both fighters easily made weight, coming in below the welterweight limit. Thurman (22-0, 20KO) came in at a lean and mean 145.5 lb in search of his third straight knockout. Diaz (40-9-1, 29KO) weighed 146.75 lb. in a fight he hopes will help disrupt a three-fight winless streak.
Thurman became a breakthrough star in the sport thanks to an impressive 2013 campaign. The unbeaten Floridian began the year with a 12-round shutout over Jan Zaveck in which he tried for the knockout until the very end. He achieved his goal of "KO's For Life" in July, rising to the occasion in his biggest fight to date, making the necessary adjustments to stop previously unbeaten Diego Chaves in the 10th round of their interim title fight.
The year ended with a spectacular 9th round knockout of Jesus Soto Karass in a performance that even left his promoter, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer in awe.
Diaz has come up short in his past three bouts, though the aged veteran has offered a respectable account of himself on each occasion. The former lightweight titlist came within inches of upsetting unbeaten Shawn Porter, instead setting for a 10-round draw in their Dec. '12 battle. Porter prevailed in the rematch, taking a 10-round decision last September in Diaz' most recent bout.
Sandwiched in between, the 34-year old came dangerously close to scoring an upset over Amir Khan on the road in England. Diaz had the Brit on the canvas, but couldn't quite close the show and came up just short on all three scorecards.
Lucas Matthysse appears in the co-feature, facing John Molina in a battle of super lightweight contenders.
Matthysse (34-3, 32KO) hasn't fought since dropping a decision to Danny Garcia in their vacant World lineal super lightweight championship last September. The former titlist weighed in right at the divisional limit of 140 lb.
Molina (27-3, 22KO) was slightly lighter at 139.25 lb., looking to expand on his current two-fight win streak. Including in that modest stretch is a come-from-behind 10th round knockout of previously unbeaten Mickey Bey last July.
Opening the telecast, Omar Figueroa returns to the ring for the first time in eight months as he faces Jerry Belmontes in a scheduled 12-round lightweight bout. Both fighters weighed 134.75 lb.
Figueroa (22-0-1, 17KO) has been nursing injured hands following his 12-round win over the inhuman Nihito Arakawa in their Fight of the Year contender last July. Belmontes (19-3, 5KO) is coming off of an upset decision win over previously unbeaten Will Tomlinson this past March. The fringe contender also boasts five wins over Figueroa in the amateurs, although the two have obviously traveled in polar opposite directions in the pro ranks.
Tags: John Molina , Lucas Matthysse , Showtime , Golden Boy Promotions , Al Haymon , Julio Diaz , Omar Figueroa , Keith Thurman , Jerry Belmontes , Thurman-Diaz , Thurman vs. Diaz , Matthysse-Molina , Matthysse vs. Molina , Figueroa-Belmontes , Figueroa vs. Belmontes
Keith Thurman, 145.5 lb. vs. Julio Diaz, 146.75 lb. - 12 rounds, welterweight
Lucas Matthysse, 140 lb. vs. John Molina, 139.25 lb. - 12 rounds, super lightweight
Omar Figueroa, 134.75 lb. vs. Jerry Belmontes, 134.75 lb. - 12 rounds, lightweight