The fight between junior lightweight world titlist Joseph Diaz Jr. and mandatory challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov is back on.
About a week ago, Rakhimov tested positive for Covid-19 and the fight was called off. However, Rakhimov has since had additional Covid-19 tests that have come back negative, allowing the fight on Feb. 13 to move forward as originally planned, Robert Diaz of Golden Boy Promotions, Diaz’s promoter, told BoxingScene.com on Tuesday.
“Since the test that was positive, he has had two more tests and both have come back negative,” Diaz said. “He had tests (this past) Thursday and Sunday. He’s feeling well and training, and everything is OK with him, the (California) commission and the IBF.
“We will still go through all of the protocols we have in place as far as testing before the fight. He will be tested a week or so before the fight and he will be tested again when he checks into the bubble. So, he will be tested a few more times before the fight, but it’s a go.”
The fight is slated to headline a show on DAZN from the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Diaz said there was the possibility of the event taking place at the famed Avalon Theater in Hollywood, California, but because of the need for a bubble and testing it was safer to go to Fantasy Springs, which serves as the host for most Golden Boy Promotions events.
Rakhimov (15-0, 12 KOs), 26, a Tajikistan native fighting out of Russia, is already in the United States so there are no issues with him having to travel from overseas for the bout, Diaz said. Rakhimov has been training at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, according to Diaz.
The fight with fellow southpaw Diaz will be Rakhimov’s first in the United States and only his second outside of Russia. In his last fight, in September 2019, he traveled to East London, South Africa, and scored an eight-round knockout of Azinga Fuzile in the title elimination bout that set him for the shot on Feb. 13.
Diaz (31-1, 15 KOs), 28, of South El Monte, California, will be making his first title defense since winning the 130-pound belt from Tevin Farmer by upset unanimous decision in January 2020 in Miami.
Had Diaz-Rakhimov been called off Golden Boy and DAZN were still planning to go through with the event with the co-feature moving up to the main event position. Now, the card will ahead as planned with junior middleweight world titlist Patrick Teixeira making his first title defense against mandatory challenger Brian Castano in the co-feature.
Teixeira (31-1, 22 KOs), 30, a southpaw from Brazil, has not boxed since he won the vacant interim 154-pound belt by upset decision over Carlos Adames in November 2019. He was elevated to a full titlist soon after when Jaime Munguia vacated the title to move up to the middleweight division.
Castano (16-0-1, 12 KOs), 31, of Argentina, has also been idle since November 2019, when he knocked out Wale Omotoso in the fifth round.
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.