Masayuki Ito and Christopher Diaz will fight for junior lightweight world title belt on July 28

Boxing


After pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko knocked out Jorge Linares to win the lightweight world title last month, he vacated the junior lightweight belt he had held. Now that world title is set to be filled: Puerto Rico’s Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz and Masayuki Ito, of Japan, will fight for the vacant 130-pound belt on July 28 in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card (9:30 p.m. ET) at the Kissimmee Civic Center in Kissimmee, Florida, the Orlando suburb with a large Puerto Rican community, Top Rank announced on Monday.

In the co-feature, welterweight up-and-comer Carlos Adames will square off with Artemio Reyes in a 10-round bout.

Diaz (23-0, 15 KOs), 23, has knocked out four opponents in a row, including Braulio Rodriguez in the fourth round in his most recent fight on March 17 on the undercard of the Jose Ramirez-Amir Imam junior welterweight world title fight in New York.

“This fight is dedicated to all of Puerto Rico and to my family that has always been there to support me,” Diaz said. “Now it’s my time to become a world champion, and I promise that I will bring home the world title. I love you, Puerto Rico. This one’s for you.”

Ito (23-1-1, 12 KOs), 27, will be fighting outside of Japan for the first time in his nine-year career. He has not faced any recognizable opponents, but he has won seven fights in a row since a 10-round majority decision loss in February 2015.

“I am really pleased to be able to fight a great fighter like Christopher Diaz for the WBO title,” Ito said. “Diaz is a very good fighter with power and speed, but on July 28, I will become the champion. I will bring the belt home back to Japan without fail. I have promised my wife and children. I will fight as if my life depended on it.”

Adames (14-0, 11 KOs), 24, a former amateur standout from the Dominican Republic, signed with Top Rank earlier this year and made his debut for the company in the co-feature of the Lomachenko-Linares undercard with a 10-round unanimous decision win against Alejandro Barrera.

Adames came to the attention of Top Rank after doing well as a sparring partner for three-division world champion Terence Crawford, one of the best fighters in the world.

“I am happy and excited to return to the ring quickly because I want to keep as active as possible,” said Adames, who will be in his second fight with trainer Joel Diaz. “This will be my second fight with Top Rank, and now I will return to the ring much better prepared because I have the experience and the confidence of fighting on big stages. I will come ready to give the public what they always expect from me — a spectacular knockout.”

Reyes (25-2, 20 KOs), 31, of Colton, California, is 10-0 with eight knockouts since his last defeat in 2012.



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