Pick It: TBRB #3 Joseph Diaz vs. #7 Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (Saturday, DAZN, 8 PM EST)

Following a few slow weeks, boxing swings back to life this weekend and things will stay exciting for a lengthy spread. The COVID postponement of Joe Smith-Maxim Vlasov, slated for ESPN, made the show of this week a slam dunk. The 28-year old 2012 Olympian Diaz (31-1, 15 KO) attempts his first defense of the IBF 130 lb. belt he won last year versus Tevin Farmer after more than a year out of the ring. The winner of five straight since a competitive loss to Gary Russell, Diaz would match up well with any of the other beltholders at Jr. lightweight.

So might the 26-year old challenger Rakhimov (15-0, 12 KO) has impressed to date but Diaz is a serious step from worn veterans like Robinson Castellanos and Malcolm Klassen. If the challenger is ready, this could be blazing. So too could a co-feature at Jr. middleweight for the WBO belt. 30-year old titlist Patrick Teixiera (31-1, 22 KO) and 31-year old challenger Brian Castano (16-0-1, 12 KO) could quickly become a hot unification option for tri-belted Jermell Charlo but they have business with each other first. Castano is rated fifth by TBRB; Teixeira is rated ninth.

Both these fights feature real top ten action in red hot weight classes. Tune in.

Additional Shows to Watch For

Saturday - #2 Warrington vs. Lara (DAZN, 2 PM EST)

In his first start since giving up the IBF featherweight belt, 30-year old Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KO) returns from more than a year out of the ring against a young fighter with a 10-0-1 mark since a first round stoppage loss in 2018. 22-year old Mauricio Lara is taking a massive step in class and he can make his whole career with a win here. Should the favored Warrington win, the chances of a showdown with contender and minor titlist Can Xu could produce a big action fight later this year.

Saturday - #4 Commey vs. Marinez (ESPN, 8;15 PM EST)

This show had a promising light heavyweight belt clash in Smith-Vlasov and, where and whenever that fight is rescheduled, it will be worth a look. Luckily for Top Rank, the intriguing planned co-feature moves into the main event and it’s a solid clash. 33-year old former titlist Richard Commey (29-3, 26 KO) is trying to retrack his hopes at lightweight after a knockout loss to Teofimo Lopez. 30-year old Jackson Marinez (19-1, 7 KO) appeared to get the business, big time, against the more touted but on that night less capable Rolando Romero last August. Sometimes, a screwy loss can hurt a fighter. For Marinez, it has opened an opportunity to emerge as a serious contender. 21-year old heavyweight hopeful Jared Anderson (7-0, 7 KO) shows some promise and is another reason to tune in.  

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com