The 2014 Boxcino lightweight champion Petr Petrov is back in action Friday in the main event of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" from Omega Products International in Corona, California.
Petrov (35-4-2, 17 KOs) will face former junior lightweight titlist Gamaliel Diaz (38-11-3, 17 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight bout (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET).
Petrov, 32, born in Russia and residing in Madrid, Spain, will be fighting for the first time since he won the Boxcino tournament last May by knocking out Fernando Cárcamo in the finals.
Mexico's Diaz, 34, is an experienced former titleholder who has faced first-class fighters including Robert Guerrero, Elio Rojas, Jorge Linares and Humberto Soto -- as well as Japanese boxer Takahiro Ao, whom he defeated for his world title in October 2012.
Diaz last fought in September, when he came away with a technical draw in Manchester, England, against Anthony Crolla after Diaz suffered a cut to his left eye from an accidental headbutt.
For both fighters, Friday's bout is crucial to their future aspirations. For Petrov, a victory likely puts him on the doorstep of another title shot; for Diaz, a convincing victory offers a return to prominence.
Petrov is an orthodox fighter with good technique who usually uses the whole ring to move from side to side, while keeping a tight guard and attacking with quick combinations. He manages to land a lot of punches by constantly hammering with his jab and utilizing a double hook from the outside with either hand. His right overhand is his most prominent offensive weapon, which he used to dispose of Carcamo in his last fight.
Diaz's style is quite similar to his opponent's, particularly in his lateral movement and defensive technique. However, Diaz isn't nearly as aggressive. He prefers to wait, lead with his left hand and counterattack with right hooks. When he steps forward and tries to close in on his opponent, he often leaves himself vulnerable defensively. This detail, which he hasn't managed to correct, has been one of the main reasons for each of his defeats.
In the co-main event, unbeaten Ukrainian welterweight Taras Shelestyuk (11-0, 8 KOs) faces New Jersey southpaw Juan Rodriguez Jr. (12-1, 5 KOs). Shelestyuk, a bronze medal winner at the 2012 London Olympics, has been training at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym and will be making his national television debut.