It's been revealed that American fighter Juan Diaz (40-4, 19) will make his ring return on May 1st in Las Vegas on a Top Rank promoted card, and it's rumoured that that bout will either be a WBO Lightweight world title fight or a WBO world title eliminator against Japan's Takahiro Ao (27-3-1, 12).
Diaz, a former unified world champion, is ranked #1 by the WBO with Ao #2, and it was reported earlier this month that the two were ordered, by the WBO, to meet in the second part of a small 4 man tournament to decide the next WBO champion at 135lbs, following Terrence Crawford move to Light Welterweight.
The other bout of the 4 man tournament saw Terry Flanagan take a DQ win over Stephen Ormond and it was thought that Flanagan would go on to fight the winner of a bout between Ao and Diaz for the title, though of course the WBO may have changed that slightly so that this bout may feature the title with Flanagan becoming the mandatory challenger for the winner.
Ao, a former world champion at both Featherweight and Super Featherweight is attempting to become just the 2nd Japanese born fighter to become a 3-weight world champion, following Koki Kameda. He has had his eyes on a Lightweight title since he abandoned the Super Featherweight division back in 2012, following his uninspiring loss to Gamaliel Diaz. Since that loss Ao has racked up 4 straight wins, including a notable victory over former 2-time Super Featherweight world champion Juan Carlos Salgado. Diaz is himself in some notable form having won his last 5 bouts, though his wins have been less notable with no one really standing out. Those wins came after Diaz took close to 3 years out of the ring following a run of bad form which had seen him lose 4 of his previous 6 bouts.
At the moment Ao hasn't been confirmed as Diaz's opponent though the suspicion is that that's likely going to be the bout. If it is made it will come on the eve of the Manny Pacquiao Vs Floyd Mayweather super fight, also in Las Vegas, and could well give Ao some major exposure in the west. It would be his second bout in the US and his third in the west, following a quick knockout over Hardy Paredes in 2013 in California and an early career win over Nilyon Nunez in Venezuela, on a card that featured Teiken stablemate Jorge Linares back in 2004.
If Ao is given this fight it would also allow Teiken stablemates Takashi Miura and Shinsuke Yamanaka a chance to take in the Las Vegas occasion with both men talking about fighting there in the past. It could mean that both men use the opportunity as a "dry run" ahead of possible stateside bouts. It could also be a chance for Japanese Middleweight Ryota Murata, who is co-promoted by Teiken and Top Rank, to make his US debut. Though we need to admit that that is certainly not something that has been mentioned by any source, and is merely hopeful conjecture on our part.
Related story-Takahiro Ao to battle Juan Diaz in WBO title eliminator
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