Junior bantamweight world champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai became a national hero in Thailand thanks to three significant wins in a row in the United States, and he decided to take advantage of his newfound fame by fighting at home.
After a stay-busy fight against Young Gil Bae, whom Sor Rungvisai wiped out in the first round of a non-title bout on July 21 in Bang Phun, Thailand, he was scheduled to defend his 115-pound world title for the third time on Oct. 6 at Impact Arena in Bangkok.
On Thursday, Sor Rungvisai's opponent was made official. He'll defend against Mexico's Iran Diaz, promoter One Championship announced.
"I am excited to showcase my skills at home in Bangkok. As a world champion boxer, this is a rare opportunity for me to be able to compete in front of my people," Sor Rungvisai said. "I will do my best to retain my title. I am very deep in preparations right now for one of the most significant bouts of my career."
Sor Rungvisai, now among the top boxers in the world pound-for-pound, won his second junior bantamweight world title by upsetting then-pound-for-pound king Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez by controversial majority decision in a strong 2017 fight of the year contender in New York.
He then left no doubt by brutally knocking out Gonzalez in the rematch last September in the main event of the Superfly 1 card at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
In February, Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40 KOs), 31, headlined Superfly 2 and won a hard-fought majority decision over former unified flyweight world titlist Juan Francisco Estrada.
Tom Loeffler, promoter of the Superfly series, and HBO hoped to have Sor Rungvisai headline Superfly 3 in a rematch with Estrada on Sept. 8 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. However, Sor Rungvisai opted to remain at home for the Oct. 6 defense after an offer from One Championship, which will co-promote the bout with Sor Rungvisai promoter Nakornloung Promotion.
"World championship boxing has always been on the radar for One Championship," said One Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong, whose Singapore-based company promotes various combat sports in Asia. "In Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, we have the perfect athlete to introduce the sport of boxing to the largest martial arts organization in the world.
"Sor Rungvisai embodies the fiery willpower of Thai martial arts. This is going to be the biggest event in Thailand's history, and with thousands of fans expected to come out and cheer for their hero."
Diaz (14-2-3, 6 KOs), of Mexico, is 3-0-1 in his last four fights, including victories against former world titleholders Hernan "Tyson" Marquez and Luis Concepcion. He said he has no fear of going to the lion's den in Bangkok.
"Coming into my opponent's home country, I know it's enemy territory, and I know the fans will be cheering loudly for him. But I believe in my skills, and I believe in my talent," Diaz said. "I am coming to Bangkok to score a huge upset. I would like to thank One Championship for believing in me and for giving me the chance to face this honorable champion, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
"I can't wait to feel his power and experience what everyone is talking about. I believe in my heart that this is my time to become a world champion."
One Championship said the Oct. 6 card will feature a mixture of combat sports bouts, including boxing, MMA, Muay Thai and kickboxing.