Last week news broke that exciting Tajik Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12) [Шавкатджон Рахимов] had tested positive for Covid19, which seemed to cancel his IBF Super Featherweight world title bout against defending champion Joseph "Jojo" Diaz (31-1, 15), which was set for February 13th.
Thankfully however it appears that Rakhimov is now clear to fight and the bout is back on, with Boxingscene taking quotes from Robert Diaz, from Golden Boy Promotions who will be running the show, explaining the situation.
Essentially Rakhimov tested positive before getting 2 negative tests. Given he is feeling well and is training for the bout, the contest is going to take place as originally planned, as long as there's no more hiccups between now and the fight.
Going forward the plan is to follow the existing protocols and Rakhimov will have more tests to take before fight night, as will Diaz.
The bout promises to be a fantastic one with the styles of the two men expected to gel amazingly well and give us a real firecracker, something we've not seen in an IBF mandatory title fight for quite some time. Despite that it's fair to say that the defending champion will be the clear favourite and will be hotly tipped to be successful in his first defense. Saying that however Rakhimov is certainly not a gimmie defense and he showed a lot of heart and determination against Azinga Fuzile in their controversial September 2019 bout. If he brings that same determination, aggression and power he could end up being a banana skin for Diaz here.
As for Diaz he won the title in 2020 when he upset Tevin Farmer and he will not be wanting to let go of his title in his first defense.
The Boxingscene article with the quotes from Robert Diaz can be read here.
This past week former multi-time Light Heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev (34-4-1, 29) had an adverse result in one of his VADA drug tests, something that was first reported by Dan Rafael for Boxingscene. At the time it was unclear whether Kovalev's scheduled January 30th bout with fast rising Uzbek Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5) [Бектемир Мелиқўзиев] could still be salvaged or whether it would have to be cancelled.
Now it's been confirmed that the bout won't be taking place at all, with Golden Boy Promotions, the promoter of the bout, releasing a statement regarding the cancelation of the event yesterday:
"The Kovalev vs. Melikuziev boxing event scheduled for Jan. 30 has been cancelled following a positive test for a banned substance on behalf of Sergey Kovalev through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
Upon learning of Kovalev’s adverse finding, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) determined that they must cancel the event.
While we are crushed for “The Bully” (Melikuziev), we know that he will nevertheless have a tremendous year in 2021. We look forward to our next scheduled boxing event on Feb. 13.2"
Whilst this is disappointing news for Melikuziev, who misses out on a huge opportunity to face off with a former world champion, it is interesting to note that the statement seems to confirm that the February 13th show will still go ahead, despite the recent positive Covid19 test of Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12) [Шавкатджон Рахимов], cancelling his bout against IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph "Jojo" Diaz (31-1, 15).
Fingers crossed we see Melikuziev out in the ring, against a solid opponent, in the very near future, especially given how he has been denied such a big fight with Kovalev's drug testing issue.
The last 24 hours or so have been torrid ones for DAZN.
Firstly there was reports of a positive drug test for former multi-time Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (34-4-1, 29). That test will likely force a cancellation of a planned January 30th bout against fast rising Uzbek Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5) [Бектемир Мелиқўзиев]. This was supposed to be DAZN's big bout to end a relatively action-free January.
Although not officially, yet, it's expected this bout, and the subsequent show, may be scrapped on very short notice due to Kovalev's test.
Soon after that it was reported that a scheduled February 13th bout, between IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph "Jojo" Diaz (31-1, 15) and Tajik challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12) [Шавкатджон Рахимов] is now also off.
Keith Idec, reporting for Boxingscene, reported that the Rakhimov tested positive for Covid19 forcing him to be pulled from the show, and have his shot at the IBF title delayed.
At the moment it's unclear if Diaz will face a short notice opponent, with former Diaz foe Tevin Farmer (30-5-1-1, 6) throwing his name in to the hat for a rematch, or whether the focus will be on rescheduling the mandatory for Spring.
This bout has been a long saga, already fuelled by legal issues and a lengthy wait for Rakhimov. The unbeaten Russian based Tajik won an eliminator in September 2019, when he stopped Azinga Fuzile in south Africa, before accusations that he had used illegal substance, including smelling salts. There was a challenge to his position as the mandatory challenger due to the issues regarding the substances.
There was also further complicated by Diaz and Farmer having a rematch clause in their contract for their first bout, in 2019. A clause that Farmer's team tried to enforce.
Over the last few days we saw the official announcement of the IBF Super Featherweight title bout, between Tajik challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12) [Шавкатджон Рахимов] and current champion Joseph "Jojo" Diaz (31-1, 15).
The bout, which will be shown on DAZN, will take place on February 13th on a Golden Boy Promotions card Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
The bout will serve as Diaz's first defense, since his excellent title win in 2019 against Tevin Farmer. The American was originally expected to rematch Farmer, but as no deal was reached between the two parties in time the IBF ordered their mandatory defense.
For the Russian based Tajik challenger this is a massive step up in class for Rakhimov, who will be making his US debut. Despite being the under-dog he will be regarded as a very live under-dog, with his power, pressure and strength.
Given the way the two men fight this is likely to be an all out war, with the two fighters holding their ground and delivering action. In fact it's likely to be much, much better than rematch between Diaz and Farmer, especially given how one-sided their first bout was, despite some god awful judging making it seem like a competitive contest.
Amazingly Golden Boy have lined this bout up as part of a brilliant double header, which will also feature a WBO Light Middleweight title bout between once beaten Brazilian world champion Patrick Teixeira (31-1, 22) and unbeaten Argentinian challenger Brian Carlos Castano (16-0-1, 12).
Late on Tuesday news broke that a deal had been reached for Tajik born Russian based Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12) [Шавкатджон Рахимов] to get his mandated IBF world title bout with Super Featherweight champion Joseph "Jojo" Diaz (31-1, 15).
The news, broke by Mike Coppinger, states that the bout is being eyed for February 20th in the US, with the teams agreeing a deal before the bout went to purse bids, which had been arranged for mid-day on November 24th.
For Diaz the bout will be his first since winning the title back in January, when he out worked, out fought, out muscled and beat up Tevin Farmer. There was supposed a rematch clause on that bout, though it appears that the rematch will have to wait, or else it would likely have been for no title as the IBF would seemingly have stripped Diaz had he not met his mandatory obligations. Though there is still some confusion and discussion around that rematch clause.
As for Rakhimov he became the mandatory challenger last year, when he stopped Azinga Fuzile back in September 2019. He did that by breaking down Fuzile in the 8th round, whilst a long way down on the scorecards. That win secured the Tajik a shot at the title, though he did have to wait, in part due to the rematch discussion between Diaz and Farmer and in part due to the on going global situation.
The bout is expected to feature on a DAZN show and be promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, though other details, such as the rest of the card, are currently unclear.
In regards to the bout this legitimately has "thrilling action" written all over. Diaz is a strong, tough, high work rate guy, who likes to come forward and has good amateur pedigree, and Rakhimov is also a strong, come forward fighter, who has real imposing physicality. The two would likely find themselves exchanging heavy leather a lot, and trying to out muscle, out hustle and out battle each other. If this does get signed off, as expected, we'll have a great fight to look forward to in February!
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