Tevin Farmer wants what the former IBF junior lightweight champion contends he is owed.
Now that Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov has contracted COVID-19 and cannot challenge Joseph Diaz Jr. on February 13, Farmer feels Diaz should give him the rematch Diaz agreed to grant him in the contracts they signed before their 12-round, 130-pound title fight last January 30. Diaz was ordered by the IBF to meet Rakhimov, its mandatory challenger for its junior lightweight title, in his next fight, which left Farmer without the return bout he thought he was guaranteed after he lost a unanimous decision to Diaz almost a year ago in Miami.
“I’ve definitely been staying in the gym,” Farmer told BoxingScene.com on Thursday. “I always stay in shape because I know in boxing, stuff like this happens, man. And I’m ready to go, even though it’s four weeks’ notice. I don’t know nobody that take a fight like this on four weeks’ notice, at this level. But I’m ready, man. I can’t wait. I can’t wait.”
Farmer, who is ranked sixth by the IBF in the junior lightweight division, urged the New Jersey-based sanctioning organization to order Diaz to fight him February 13. Diaz (31-1, 15 KOs), of Downey, California, was supposed to square off against Tajikistan’s Rakhimov (15-0, 12 KOs) that night in the main event of a DAZN doubleheader at Avalon in Hollywood, California.
“He could be a little p-ssy, unless he has no choice,” Farmer said in reference to Diaz. “If the IBF says so, he’ll have to do it. The IBF had a mandatory challenger and the mandatory challenger fell through. So, it’s not his choice. It’s the IBF’s choice. If the IBF makes me his mandatory, he’ll have no choice.”
There is no indication that the IBF will force Diaz to face Farmer again. It is much more likely that Diaz-Rakhimov will be rescheduled once Rakhimov is healthy and able to prepare properly to fight for Diaz’s title.
Nevertheless, Farmer feels that as a former IBF champion, that sanctioning body should support him and ensure that he gets his rematch.
“I want the IBF to make this fight happen,” Farmer said. “That’s what I want. I deserve it and that’s the right thing to do.”
Diaz was an optional opponent for Farmer, which enabled Farmer’s handlers to insert a rematch clause in their contracts. There was a five-month window within which their immediate rematch was supposed to take place – by June 30 according to the 2020 calendar – but the COVID-19 pandemic complicated matters.
Farmer seriously considered taking legal action once it became clear Diaz would fight Rakhimov next, but he ultimately decided against it.
“It was frustrating, but I’m a strong guy, so I’ll get through whatever,” Farmer said. “After a while, I just kinda said, ‘All right, I’ll just have to take the next step.’ Because, at the end of the day, I can’t slow my process because there’s one bump in the road. I’ve gotta go around it and keep it moving. I believe what goes around comes around. I’m just gonna stay true to myself and good things always come to good people. I’ll get my good times again.”
The 30-year-old Farmer and the 28-year-old Diaz traded insults on Twitter on Thursday night, a few hours after BoxingScene.com first reported Rakhimov failed a COVID-19 test. In one exchange that included Lou DiBella, Farmer’s promoter, Diaz alluded to not being pleased with the purse he would’ve been paid for a rematch with Farmer.
“Karma is really interesting, especially during difficult times like this,” DiBella said. “Tevin is ready, willing and able to get his title back. Let’s see if JoJo does the right thing, insists upon the right thing. … [Diaz] acknowledged the deal he made. Now live up to it! OK? You were gonna make your mandatory. Well, now your mandatory is not there.”
Farmer (30-5-1, 6 KOs, 1 NC) pointed out that he didn’t have to grant Diaz a title shot. Diaz’s refusal to reciprocate bothers him.
“He’s not an honorable man,” Farmer said. “He’s not a man of his word. You can’t trust a guy like that.”
Diaz, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, defeated Farmer on all three scorecards in a fight DAZN streamed nearly a year ago (116-112, 115-113, 115-113). Neither Diaz nor Farmer has fought since Diaz beat him.
“Him not wanting to fight me again didn’t surprise me so much,” Farmer said, “because I knew if I gave him a close fight at 30 percent, he knew what I would do at a hundred percent. So, it didn’t really surprise me that he didn’t wanna fight again. What really surprised me is I had a rematch clause and it was like no one gave a sh-t.”
Farmer declined to explain why he feels he operated at 30 percent of his capabilities versus Diaz, other than to say that he had a difficult time making the 130-pound limit for that fight. Regardless, the southpaw is confident he’d defeat Diaz in a rematch.
“If I get in there with him again, I’m gonna dominate him,” Farmer said. “I’m gonna dominate him.”
It wasn’t clear as of Thursday night whether Diaz would still make his first title defense February 13. Farmer, like Rakhimov, is a left-handed fighter, therefore Diaz wouldn’t have to completely change training camp more than halfway into it if he decided to fight Farmer again.
Regardless, Rakhimov would still be owed his IBF-mandated title shot.
“My job is just to keep training,” Farmer said, “keep working hard and I’ll get what I deserve.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.