I've been an Amir Khan supporter pretty much since he came into the sport, but my belief in his upside has definitely waned, and it's not because I don't think he's good, and it's not because I think he's annoying, or any of that stuff. He's just a guy with major defensive flaws, and fixing them takes not just hard work, which I have no doubt he can handle, but some kind of change in his brain chemistry, stopping him from doing the things he naturally wants to do.
Diaz is a tougher opponent than Carlos Molina was in December, as he's at least as big as Khan. But Diaz is here because he drew with Shawn Porter, a still-unproven prospect who was hardly a true blue chipper or anything like that. It wasn't that long ago that Kendall Holt walloped Diaz on Friday Night Fights, and he had losses to Victor Cayo and Rolando Reyes just a few years ago. The draw with Porter was a good performance, but Khan is a world class boxer, and while vulnerable, generally handles this level with ease. Is Diaz better than Paulie Malignaggi, Andriy Kotelnik, or Marcos Maidana? No. Khan TKO-6.
Let's be clear: on paper, this isn't a good fight. In practice, it doesn't figure to be a particularly competitive one. Khan's as short as an 18-to-1 favourite with the bookmakers, and it's easy to see why. Khan's bigger, faster, younger and, of course, has - at least until the Molina gimme last time out - mixed, by and large, at a consistently higher level. Diaz fought better than many would have expected against Shawn Porter, but when a split-draw against a prospect as green as Porter comprises almost the sum of a fighter's goodwill going into a fight, you have to think they're in trouble.
There are really two question marks in play here, but they're essentially the same ones that we weighed up going into that fight against Molina - who, like Diaz, is really a lightweight. Virgil Hunter's tutelage of Khan hasn't really been tested yet, and it's problematic to use the Molina showing as too much of a gauge of the progress. Does Khan approach this fight with any kind of caution, boxing off the back foot? Or does he, in yet another fight he's said may be his last in the UK, go for the flashy early stoppage to underline his credentials for a big fight later this year? The other, as ever, is Khan's vulnerability. Diaz can bang, at least against lightweights. It's probably not going to matter. This should go the same way as that Molina walkover did, with the Bolton man overpowering and outmanoeuvring his overmatched opponent (try saying that really quickly) to a mid-rounds stoppage. Khan TKO7
I can't see this as anything but an easy fight for Khan. He is the more talented fighter, and is much closer to his prime than Diaz who, even at his best, was a solid-not-great lightweight. Khan will dictate the pace and distance from the beginning with his jab and footwork. He land some flashy combos while Diaz tries to work his way inside and land a big punch. Eventually, Diaz will realize that landing that perfect punch is more difficult than he had imagined. Khan will sweep the early rounds then pile on the punishment In the middle rounds before Diaz's corner stops the fight. Khan by mid-round stoppage.
This is a nice fight for Khan to have in front of his British fans. Diaz is a decent operator but shouldn't pose any threat at all to Khan, whose far superior speed should win him the fight with ease. Khan's vulnerabilities are well known - his chin isn't the sturdiest and his propensity for standing and trading punches makes fights harder for him than they should be, although it does make for entertaining fights for the fans.
Diaz's come forward style should suit Khan perfectly. I'd imagine Virgil Hunter, Khan's new trainer, will be wanting Khan to box sensibly, pick Diaz off with fast flurries before getting his hands back in front of his chin and using his footwork to move away from danger. Diaz isn't a puncher but Khan would be foolish to take unnecessary risks.
It should be an easy night for Khan if he sticks to the game plan, his punches should be far too fast and accurate for Diaz to cope with. Diaz also hasn't got the best of chins and he fights face first at times. It's hard to envisage him being able to take Khan's punches without finding himself in trouble at some point, and that makes me believe the bout will be over before the halfway mark. Khan by stoppage.
Final Tally: Amir Khan 4, Julio Diaz 0.