By Keith Idec

LAS VEGAS – Just a few hours after Jorge Lara made his grand arrival at MGM Grand on Tuesday, the featherweight contender exited his fight against Joseph Diaz Jr. reported Tuesday night that Lara suffered a back injury at a Las Vegas gym Tuesday and withdrew from his scheduled 12-round bout with Diaz on the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin undercard. Mexico’s Rafael Rivera quickly accepted an opportunity to replace Lara on four days’ notice, so Diaz’s fight will remain on the HBO Pay-Per-View undercard Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

It hadn’t been determined by Tuesday night, though, if the WBC will sanction Diaz-Rivera as an elimination match that would move the winner closer to a shot at its featherweight champion, Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs).

The 24-year-old Diaz (24-0, 13 KOs), a 2012 American Olympian from Downey, California, is ranked No. 2 among the WBC’s 126-pound contenders. Lara (29-0-2, 21 KOs), of Guadalajara, Mexico, is ranked fourth by the WBC.

Mexico’s Rivera (25-0-2, 16 KOs) was not ranked among the 40 featherweight contenders the WBC listed on its website as of Tuesday night. Rivera had been training for a fight against the Philippines’ Drian Francisco (29-4-1, 22 KOs) on September 22 in Ontario, California.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.