- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Six months after a disputed majority decision loss to then-junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia, former titleholder Lamont Peterson will get back to work.
Peterson will face 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz on Oct. 17 at the EagleBank Arena (formerly the Patriot Center) on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Peterson's hometown of Washington, D.C. The fight, contracted at 143 pounds, will headline an afternoon Premier Boxing Champions card on NBC (4 p.m. ET).
On April 11 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Peterson dropped the tight decision to Garcia in a 143-pound non-title bout rather than a unification fight; Garcia was having trouble making the 140-pound junior welterweight limit. Even though the fight was a non-title bout, Peterson (33-3-1, 17 KOs), 31, was subsequently stripped of his world title.
On that same April 11 card, Diaz (17-0, 8 KOs), 31, who fights out of the Bronx, New York, faced Gabriel Bracero in a 10-round, 142-pound fight, knocking him down in the eighth and ninth rounds and winning by wide unanimous decision.
"I'm very excited to be back in the ring, especially close to home in Virginia and fighting on NBC," Peterson said. "I'm happy just to be doing what I love to do. I've been in the gym and I've stayed ready, so I'm prepared to give the fans the kind of show they deserve."
Diaz, who will be in his second fight since aligning with top trainer Joel Diaz, will be taking a big step up in competition against the battle-tested Peterson, who has faced a slew of titleholders and top contenders, including Garcia, Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, Dierry Jean, Victor Ortiz, Kendall Holt and Timothy Bradley Jr.
"I am very thankful for this opportunity and I know that Lamont Peterson will be my toughest battle so far," said Diaz, a two-time Olympian. "I am confident that at the end of the fight, I will have my hand raised. No disrespect to Lamont, but he has had his opportunity. Now it is my time to show the world who Felix Diaz is. I can assure you that the fans will not be disappointed on Oct. 17."
Said Lou DiBella, who is promoting the card, "Lamont Peterson is an elite fighter. He proved it in his disputed loss to Danny Garcia and will come back to face an undefeated Felix Diaz in what should be a great scrap. Diaz is an Olympic gold medalist from the Dominican Republic with a fan-friendly style; he will bring that to the fight and I expect great action."
In the co-feature, super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell (24-2, 16 KOs) will square off with Blake Caparello (21-1-1, 6 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round fight.
"My motivation to succeed only gets stronger with each fight," Dirrell said. "I fight to win. All I want to see is a belt around my waist. Whatever it takes, whatever I have to do, it'll get done. I will be a world champion. This fight is the next step."
Dirrell, 31, of Flint, Michigan, has had two world title shots and lost both times. He dropped a split decision to Carl Froch in Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England, in 2009 during the Super Six World Boxing Classic. In his most recent fight, Dirrell lost a close unanimous decision to England's James DeGale for a vacant 168-pound belt on May 23 in Boston.
Caparello (21-1-1, 6 KOs), 29, of Australia, fought for a light heavyweight world title last August but got wiped out in the second round challenging Sergey Kovalev. Caparello has won two fights in a row since, including his most recent bout when he dropped down to super middleweight.
"This is a huge opportunity for me to show the world that I am one of the best 168-pounders in all of boxing," Caparello said. "This is the weight class where I belong. Dirrell is a former Olympian and, like myself, a [former] world title challenger. I expect a very tough fight on Oct. 17, but I know that I will be victorious."