Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz and Mike Alvarado will be making their in-ring returns on the March 19 edition of Solo Boxeo Tecate on UniMas, according to a report at ESPN.com, with the fights set for Diaz's hometown of Houston. Both will be in eight-round bouts.
Diaz, 32, was once a rising star in the sport, winning his first world title in 2004, when he beat Lakva Sim for the WBA lightweight belt. He added the WBO title in a win over Acelino "Popo" Freitas in 2007, and the IBF title by beating Julio Diaz later that year. But a 2008 upset loss to Nate Campbell set in motion a series of fights that led to Diaz's retirement. He lost to Juan Manuel Marquez in the 2009 Fight of the Year, then split a pair of controversial fights with Paulie Malignaggi in 2009, before losing a rematch to Marquez in 2010, after which he decided to hang up his gloves.
Diaz returned in 2013, though, winning three fights that year and two more in 2014. He last fought in September 2014, beating Carlos Cardenas, and then sat out all of 2015 after shoulder surgery. Diaz (40-4, 19 KO) showed no serious ambition in that comeback, fighting mediocre opposition and just racking up some wins. But he's a popular fighter, and his return to Houston -- where he hasn't fought since his disputed 2009 win over Malignaggi -- should be a good way to make a little money. There was some talk of Diaz fighting for a world title again before his surgery, but the level of opposition he'd faced made that seem like more a result of being a known veteran than anything he was seriously working toward.
Alvarado, 35, last fought in January 2015, when he was absolutely mauled by Brandon Rios in a disappointing rubber match. The former junior welterweight titleholder looked like he shouldn't even have been in the ring with a determined Rios that night, losing for the third time in a row after a nasty beatdown against Ruslan Provodnikov in 2013 and a pretty wide loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2014.
Alvarado (34-4, 23 KO) is 1-4 in his last five fights, but he's also fought Rios three times, Provodnikov, and Marquez in those fights. A step back in competition and some time to get his confidence and rhythm back may be just what he needs, and that seems to be the hope here.