IBF world super-featherweight titleholder Tevin Farmer gets his 2020 campaign underway with a tough-looking assignment when he defends his title against former two-time world featherweight title challenger Joseph Diaz who hails from Downey, California in an all-southpaw affair.
Their championship bout is staged at the Meridian at Island Gardens in Miami, Florida on Thursday, 30th January and will be streamed live by DAZN in the USA and shown on Sky Sports in the UK.
Farmer (30-4-1, 6 Ko's) it seems, wants to fight the best in the 130lb division. There are far easier options than the once-beaten Diaz (30-1-0, 15 Ko's), who has won four in a row since losing on points to the talented Gary Russell Jr for the WBC featherweight title in May 2018.
Farmer and Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn had tried to negotiate a unification bout with then WBA champion Gervonta Davis but to no avail, so it's on to defending the title until one of the bigger names wants to test themselves against the champion from Philadelphia.
The 27-year-old Diaz is a former US 2012 Olympian, losing in the second round to Cuban Lazaro Alvarez. His pro career resume is littered with quality opposition and he is without a doubt for me the best boxer that Farmer will have faced since winning the vacant title from Japan's Kenichi Ogawa at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas in December 2017.
After his unanimous points loss to Russell Jr, Diaz fought WBA champion, Jesus M Rojas of Puerto Rico, for his title at the Avalon Nightclub in Hollywood, California, but although Diaz won by a unanimous decision he couldn't win the title after coming in over the 126lb featherweight division limit. The move up in weight has seen productive results with good wins over Charles Huerta, Freddy Fonseca, and Jesus Cuadro.
This is a dangerous fight for the light-punching champion. Without the power to deter Diaz, Farmer will have to move constantly and rely on speed to keep the Californian busy and stop him from landing his heavier artillery. Diaz has seen every style known to man due to his International amateur career and seven years in the pro's, so he will tuck up behind a high guard and continually pressure the gifted Farmer. Diaz is a better puncher than his 15 stoppages in 30 wins suggest, especially to the body which he will use to slow the champion down.
This is one of those fights where I go for one then the other, they both have such a strong case for winning, but it was the Gary Russell fight that makes me believe that Diaz can be stopped from working by fast punching and lateral movement.
Prediction: Farmer to win a close points decision.