Joseph Diaz Jr.’s mandated title defense versus Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov won’t take place February 13.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Rakhimov, the mandatory challenger for Diaz’s IBF junior lightweight title, has tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw from their upcoming title fight. Diaz (31-1, 15 KOs), of Downey, California, and Tajikistan’s Rakhimov (15-0, 12 KOs), were supposed to headline DAZN’s doubleheader February 13 from The Avalon in Hollywood, California.
The co-feature that night is another mandated matchup that’ll pit WBO junior middleweight champ Patrick Teixeira against his number one challenger, Brian Castano. It was not clear at the time this story was posted if Diaz will face a replacement for Rakhimov or if the show will proceed with the 12-round bout between Brazil’s Teixeira (31-1, 22 KOs) and Argentina’s Castano (16-0-1, 12 KOs) as the main event.
Regardless, Rakhimov is expected to receive his title shot at some point after he recovers and is able to train properly. The 26-year-old Rakhimov, a southpaw who permanently resides in Ekaterinburg, Russia, is trained by Freddie Roach at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
Rakhimov is the IBF’s number one contender in the junior lightweight division. He defeated South African southpaw Azinga Fuzile (14-1, 8 KOs) by eighth-round technical knockout in their IBF elimination match in September 2019 to move into position to fight for the IBF’s 130-pound championship.
Fuzile’s team appealed that outcome because it claimed Rakhimov benefited from the use of illegal smelling salt, among other things. The IBF’s Appeal Panel ruled in Rakhimov’s favor and upheld the result of their scheduled 12-round eliminator.
The 28-year-old Diaz, meanwhile, has not fought since he defeated Philadelphia’s Tevin Farmer by unanimous decision to win the IBF 130-pound championship last January 30 in Miami. Farmer (30-5-1, 6 KOs, 1 NC) had a rematch clause in his contract for what was an optional title defense, but Diaz was able to proceed with his mandatory obligation without facing Farmer again in a second fight Farmer believed was guaranteed in the event that he lost their 12-round fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.