Juan Diaz to fight Adailton DeJesus

Updated: July 10, 2013, 10:25 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Former unified lightweight titleholder Juan Diaz will continue his comeback on Aug. 17.

Diaz will face Adailton DeJesus of Brazil in a scheduled 10-round bout in the headliner of a "Solo Boxeo Tecate" card (UniMas) at the Laredo Energy Center in Laredo Texas.

"The Baby Bull" ended a 2½-year retirement on April 13 by knocking out Pipino Cuevas Jr. in the sixth round and will be in the second fight of a comeback that he hopes will lead him to another lightweight world title and eventually a junior welterweight belt.

"I feel good and, of course, I felt good getting the 'W' against Cuevas," Diaz told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "I haven't had that feeling of winning in a while. I had to find my balance. It took about three rounds to get comfortable and find my distance, but once I got the feel of being back in there I felt good. It went as planned and I won. I saw that I needed to take one or two more of those kind of fights."

Which leads him to DeJesus.

"Clearly, Juan showed in that last fight that there's a lot left," said Carl Moretti of Top Rank, which signed Diaz to a one-fight deal. "This isn't a guy doing it for the money. He's successful outside the ring (as owner of a trucking company) and he's a smart guy (as a college graduate). He still wants to fight and his style has always been fan-friendly. That hasn't changed. We're looking forward to the fight on Aug. 17 and then we'll see where we go from there."

Diaz, 29, of Houston, won a 135-pound title in 2004 and made seven defenses – including unifying three of the major belts – before losing to Nate Campbell via split decision in 2008. But including the loss to Campbell, Diaz slumped to 2-4 in a six-fight span and retired after losing back-to-back fights in rematches with Paulie Malignaggi and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Late last year, Diaz (36-4, 18 KOs), who has been in numerous action-packed fights, decided to embark on a comeback. He returned to Golden Boy Promotions, with which Diaz had signed after the Campbell fight, on a one-fight deal to promote the Cuevas fight.

Now Diaz is moving to Top Rank, Golden Boy's archrival, for his next fight.

"It's a one-fight deal," said Moretti, who was close to Diaz when he turned pro with Main Events, where Moretti worked for several years as its matchmaker. "I met with Juan and (adviser) Brian Caldwell in Dallas (last month) at the Mikey Garcia fight. I've known Juan since his pro debut and we have a great relationship.

"We'll take it step by step, but I'm looking forward to working with him for this fight and, hopefully, beyond. He's in a division that we have a lot of interest in and it seems like it will be an interesting division in the next year."

Although the 35-year-old DeJesus (30-7, 24 KOs) has not fought since a first-round knockout win in December 2011, he is a step up from Cuevas, although he has lost to his most recognizable opponents, including Marco Antonio Barrera, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Humberto Soto.

"He's lost against top-level opponents," Diaz said. "He's a strong fighter, a durable guy and this is a step up. That's helpful for me. I don't want to be in the sport to take a punch. I want to become champion again and by stepping up the level of opposition and being victorious, it shows me I still have a lot left in the tank.

"So far things are going according to plan. The ideal situation is I would love to fight two more times this year, Aug. 17 and then another one and then start 2014 fast, you know fight a top contender or a world champion."

As for switching from Golden Boy to Top Rank, Diaz said, "Top Rank was a little more willing to work with the type of schedule I wanted. Nothing against Golden Boy. They wanted to work with me as well, but they wanted to throw a little harder opposition my way. I know I'm a warrior and I will fight, but I have to be smart about it as well.

"I'm not signed to either one of these top promoters, but I know if I want to take the road to become a world champion again that I will eventually have to sign with someone. We have to be honest here – they are the two promoters who have the fighters I would like to fight. I want to become a lightweight world champion once again but that is not my end goal. I feel a little older, a little stronger, so in the future give it another shot at 140 (where he lost to Malignaggi). But I know I have to prove myself again."