Amir Khan's April 27 return to the ring at the Sheffield Arena in England will likely come against veteran Julio Diaz, a former lightweight titlist whose last outing came on the Khan-Molina undercard, where Diaz surprised everyone by going to a draw with welterweight prospect Shawn Porter.
Diaz, 33, figured to have bought himself another decent payday with that performance, as he was expected to be undersized (he was not) and past his best (which may still be the case), but figuring him to get a shot at Khan next was a stretch.
Still, that appears to be in the cards, and Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KO) says he'll try to bring out the "old" Amir Khan, the one we've been assured has been replaced by a disciplined new version under trainer Virgil Hunter:
"There are a lot weaknesses," Diaz said. "He can't take a punch and when he gets overwhelmed he tends to panic too much. I aim to make it a brawl. I won't be too technical or too pretty but it will be a real fight."
The fight will take place at a 143-pound catchweight, which Khan could not secure against either Vyacheslav Senchenko or Josesito Lopez.
On paper, this is somewhere between a truly credible fight and a stay-busy bout for Khan (27-3, 19 KO). No doubt Amir is still working to find a groove with Hunter, and taking something bigger than this may have been a step too far for the moment. At 26, Khan still has a lot of time left in the sport, and the feeling right now is he's not rushing anything, simply taking his time to get to where he wants to be going forward. If he wins, something bigger will be expected later in the year, though.