World Boxing Council No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger Adrian “The Shark” Diaconu, scheduled to fight for a title against WBC lightweight champion “Bad” Chad Dawson at Arco Arena in Sacramento, CA suffered a training injury on Thursday forcing him to pull out of the Sept. 29 match.
Dangerous light heavyweight knockout artist Epifanio Mendoza (28-4-1, 24 KOs), from Barranquilla, Colombia, has agreed to replace Diaconu and will face Dawson in the Sept. 29 main event.
“This is a dream come true to have the opportunity to fight Chad Dawson for the WBC light heavyweight title,” an obviously enthused Mendoza said after flying into promoter Don King’s Deerfield Beach, Fla., headquarters to sign the match contract yesterday afternoon [Sept. 18]. “I have fought in and won numerous national and continental championships but this will be my first world title fight. I plan on taking the title back to Colombia.”
Fight promoter Don King likened the event to a Rocky movie, but this time it’s for real.
“Adrian Diaconu’s misfortune becomes Epifanio Mendoza’s opportunity to make history,” King said. “Adrian will recover to fight another day and Epifanio has a chance to become a real-life Rocky, just like in the movies. This type of thing happens from time to time in boxing and it adds another level of intrigue into our September 29 main event.”
The training injury occurred on Thursday, Sept. 13, the day after Diaconu and his trainer Pierre Bouchard had attended Sacramento and San Francisco press conferences, promoting the fight, on Wednesday Sept. 12.
Diaconu was so anxious to not miss another day of his scheduled training that he took a late-night flight back to Montreal, which arrived on Thursday at 7 a.m. During his sparring session later that day, he injured his right hand. He complained of pain on the base of the hand between his knuckles and wrist.
On Friday morning, Diaconu visited Dr. Claude LeBlanc, a noted sports physician in Montreal, who advised him to undergo an immediate M.R.I., which was completed yesterday afternoon, Sept. 17. The imaging revealed that Diaconu suffered bone contusions on the base of his hand on the third and fourth metacarpals with soft tissue damage in the surrounding areas.
After LeBlanc read the results, he advised Diaconu to not participate in his scheduled match with Chad Dawson. He also prescribed rehabilitative treatment for the next few weeks until the injury heals to the point where it can be re-evaluated.
A second world championship remains on the card featuring two once-beaten fighters with Luis “El Demoledor” Perez (25-1, 21 KOs), from Nicaragua, making the first defense of his International Boxing Federation bantamweight title opposing British Commonwealth champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko (24-1, 21 KOs), from Ghana. Eight bouts are expected to be on the full card.
Tickets priced at $30, $50, $75, $100 and $250 are on sale now and may be purchased most easily by calling Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone at (916) 649-TIXS or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available at the ARCO Arena Box Office and at all Sacramento-area Ticketmaster outlets. Both world championships will be televised on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). The event is being promoted by Don King Productions in association with Maloof Sports & Entertainment.
Dawson (24-0, 16 KOs), a 25-year-old southpaw from New Haven, Conn., possesses the WBC 175-pound title Roy Jones Jr. held from 1997 to 2004. Dawson upset previously unbeaten Tomasz Adamek (31-0) to win the WBC crown on Feb. 3 in Kissimmee, Fla. In his most recent appearance he made a successful title defense against Jesus “Chuy” Ruiz on June 9 in Hartford, Conn.