By Keith Idec
A deal for the WBC featherweight title bout between champion Gary Russell Jr. and mandatory challenger Joseph Diaz Jr. has been completed.
Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez told ringtv.com, a website owned by Golden Boy, for a story posted Friday that the deal has been finalized. According to Gomez, the Russell-Diaz fight could take place at any point from May 19 to June 30 at an undetermined site.
Gomez also stated that HBO or Showtime could televise their 12-round, 126-pound championship match.
Coming to an agreement on financial terms enabled Golden Boy Promotions and Tom Brown, who represented Russell in negotiations on behalf of adviser Al Haymon, to avoid a purse bid.
“It’s his time,” Gomez told ringtv.com regarding Diaz. “He’s ready for it. He’s been waiting for this all his life. He’s fighting the top guy at the weight class, which is Gary Russell. I’m very happy for him, to just see him grow into a man. It’s time. It’s his time to take advantage of all the hard work.”
The 29-year-old Russell (28-1, 17 KOs) has been an elite featherweight for several years, but he has been plagued by inactivity. He’ll end a one-year layoff when he faces the undefeated Diaz.
The 2008 American Olympian has fought just twice since he stopped Mexico’s Jhonny Gonzalez (65-10, 54 KOs) in the fourth round to win the WBC 126-pound championship in March 2015. The Capitol Heights, Maryland, native last fought May 20, the night he conquered Colombia’s Oscar Escandon (25-3, 17 KOs) by seventh-round technical knockout to make the second defense of his title.
The 25-year-old Diaz (26-0, 14 KOs), a 2012 American Olympian from Downey, California, most recently knocked Mexican veteran Victor Terrazas (38-5-2, 21 KOs) in the third round February 22 in Indio, California. Diaz has been very vocal about wanting his shot at Russell, despite Russell’s taunts about Golden Boy Promotions wanting to protect Diaz from him.
“I just feel like he’s running his mouth just to cover his bases,” Diaz told BoxingScene.com recently. “Because at the end of the day, he knows I’ve been calling him out on Twitter, calling him out on Instagram.
“I’ve been mentioning his name a lot because I do wanna fight him. He knows I ain’t no punk and he knows that I do truly wanna fight him.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.