Undefeated Featherweight Rafael “Big Bang” Rivera (25-0-2, 16 KOs) will step in to fight 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, Jr. (24-0, 13 KOs) in a 12-round WBC Title Eliminator as the co-main event to the Canelo-Golovkin superfight Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Rivera, a 23-year-old from Tijuana, Mexico, has steadily climbed the featherweight division. He defeated former Super Bantamweight World Champion Wilfredo “Papito” Vazquez, Jr., stopped Ruben “Canelito” Tamayo and took away the undefeated status of Ruben “El Tibio” Garcia Hernandez. Rivera is replacing Jorge Lara, who had to bow out due to reasons that have not been verified.
Rivera was originally supposed to fight Diaz on Saturday’s card, but was forced to step aside for Lara, due to Lara being higher-ranked by the WBC. Rivera has already been training for a fight next week, and is in tip-top shape for his showdown with Diaz.
“Originally, I was hoping to get a shot at JoJo Diaz,” Rivera said. “When that didn’t pan out, I took another fight for next week. I have therefore been training and am in the best shape of my life. I am grateful that I have this last-minute chance, and there is no way I am letting this opportunity pass me by.”
Diaz, a 2012 U.S. Olympian who has shot his way to the top of the featherweight division with victories over a who’s who of contenders, was unfazed by the last-minute change of opponent.
Diaz Jr. said, “I don’t care who is in front of me, I’m leaving with a win on September 16th. After I have my hand raised in victory, I will be one fight away from realizing my dream of winning a world championship.”
Canelo vs. Golovkin is a 12-round fight for the middleweight championship of the world presented by Golden Boy Promotions and GGG Promotions and sponsored by Tecate, BORN BOLD; Hennessy, Never Stop, Never Settle; O’Reilly Auto Parts. Better Parts, Better Prices…everyday!; Fred Loya Insurance; Interjet; Thor: Ragnarok; Fathom Events; Tsesnabank; and Capital Holdings. Diaz, Jr. vs. Rivera is 12-round WBC Featherweight Title Eliminator bout presented by Golden Boy Promotions. Caballero vs. De La Hoya is a 10-round fight for the NABF and vacant NABO Super Bantamweight Championship presented by Golden Boy Promotions. Martin vs. Rojo is a 10-round lightweight fight for the WBC Continental Americas and vacant WBA Intercontinental Championships presented by Golden Boy Promotions and GGG Promotions in association with Cancun Boxing. The event will take place Saturday, Sept. 16 at T-Mobile Arena and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at a special time of 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.
Tickets for the closed circuit telecast of Canelo vs. Golovkin at Bellagio Resort & Casino, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, The Mirage Hotel & Casino, Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, New York-New York Hotel & Casino, Luxor Hotel and Casino and Circus Circus Las Vegas are priced at $75, not including applicable fees. All seats are general admission and are currently on sale. Tickets may be purchased at any MGM Resorts International Box Office, by phone with a major credit card at 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.