Keith Thurman to headline April card

Updated: March 25, 2014, 5:18 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Three of boxing's most exciting punchers -- Keith Thurman, Lucas Matthysse and Omar Figueroa -- will be in action April 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com.

"When you can see Thurman, Matthysse and Figueroa all on one night, it's pretty exciting I think," Schaefer said.

None of them, however, is going to face an A-level opponent.

Thurman, 25, will be the headliner of the Showtime-televised tripleheader when he defends his interim welterweight belt against Julio Diaz. Thurman (22-0, 20 KOs), of Clearwater, Fla., won an interim title by 10th-round knockout of Diego Chaves in San Antonio last July. He made his first defense in December, also in San Antonio, shaking off some rocky moments in the first round to drop Jesus Soto Karass in the fifth round before stopping him in the ninth round of an exciting fight.

Diaz (40-9-1, 29 KOs), of Coachella, Calif., is a former two-time lightweight titleholder who has seen better days. Although Diaz, 34, always has shown a big heart, he has lost his last two fights, both in 2013. He lost a decision to former unified junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan in April -- although he knocked Khan down -- and then a clear decision to Shawn Porter (who later won a world title) in September in a rematch of their December 2012 draw.

"Julio Diaz will get up for this kind of fight," Schaefer said. "You saw how he looked in England against Amir Khan. Julio Diaz always comes to fight, and he we'll see what happens. All of the other top 147-pounders are fighting, so Keith is going to do this fight. We'll give Julio Diaz one last chance and see what he can make of it. But for Keith, this is about him getting back in the ring without having to wait for some of those other guys while they are getting their fights done.

"Being on air and fighting is the formula. You look at [middleweight titlist] Gennady Golovkin. He's not fighting King Kong but he has stayed busy, and that is a key in this sport. If you stay busy, you stay relevant. If you wait for that big fight and sit out like some of these fighters have done, you become irrelevant. Keith is going to stay relevant. And one thing we all know about Julio Diaz is that this guy does not just come to pick up a paycheck. He comes to fight and he knows it's a must-win fight."

The 31-year-old Matthysse (34-3, 32 KOs), the big banger from Argentina, will look to rebound from getting knocked down and losing a unanimous decision to junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia in September on the high-profile Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez undercard in Las Vegas.

Matthysse will meet John Molina (27-3, 22 KOs), 31, of Covina, Calif., in a scheduled 12-round fight. Molina's only world title fight came in 2012, when he challenged then-lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco and got knocked out in 44 seconds. More recently, Molina has won two fights in a row, including in one of the most dramatic comebacks of 2013. Trailing by a wide margin on all three scorecards against Mickey Bey in July, Molina rallied for a knockout victory in the final minute of the 10th and final round.

"Matthysse wants to see how he still feels at 140 pounds. He might move up to 147 and try to inject himself into the Mayweather sweepstakes, but he'll fight this fight and then make that decision," Schaefer said. "In the meantime, we were looking for an opponent who comes to fight and with Molina we found that."

Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs), 24, of Weslaco, Texas, will make his first title defense when he faces Jerry Belmontes (19-3, 5 KOs), 25, of Corpus Christi, Texas. Figueroa hurt both of his hands when he won a vacant interim belt last July by outpointing Nihito Arakawa in a savage fight of the year candidate. Figueroa was later elevated to a full titleholder and was scheduled to make his first defense against Ricardo Alvarez on March 8 on the Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo undercard in Las Vegas.

However, Figueroa reinjured his left hand a week before the fight and had to withdraw. According to Schaefer, the injury was not serious, only requiring a few weeks of rest.

"Everything is OK with his hand," Schaefer said. "He had it checked out. He is ready to go and excited to come back."

Belmontes, who had lost three out of four fights, is getting the title opportunity because he pulled an upset in his last fight, easily outpointing previously unbeaten contender Will Tomlinson of Australia in a 10-rounder on the Alvarez-Angulo card.

"That was a great win for Belmontes," Schaefer said. "Tomlinson was undefeated and ranked in the organizations and Belmontes beat him. That was a big win for him, and this is his reward."

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