Super middleweight John Ryder will remain on the Canelo Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs undercard and fight for an interim super middleweight world title, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Wednesday.
Ryder will take on Bilal Akkawy for the vacant interim belt on May 4 (DAZN) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Ryder was originally scheduled to face former middleweight world titlist David Lemieux, who was moving up in weight, in the co-feature. However, last week Montreal's Lemieux (40-4, 34 KOs) withdrew from the fight because of a right hand injury.
Now Ryder (27-4, 15 KOs), 30, of England, has a new opponent in Akkawy (20-0-1, 16 KOs), 25, of Australia, although the fight has been moved from the co-feature position further down the card.
Ryder has won three fights in a row by knockout since suffering a split decision loss to Rocky Fielding for the vacant British super middleweight title in April 2017. The fight with Akkawy will be his first outside of the United Kingdom.
Akkawy's most notable victory came in February 2018 when he won a 10-round decision against Giovanni De Carolis, who briefly held a super middleweight world title in 2016. Akkawy's past three fights have been away from Australia, two in the United States and one in Mexico. He is trained by Alvarez' trainer Eddy Reynoso and notched a victory on the undercard of Alvarez's third-round knockout of Fielding in December in New York.
Golden Boy said that the 10-round fight between hotshot junior welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. (12-0, 12 KOs), 21, of Dallas, and Mauricio Herrera (24-8, 7 KOs), 38, a former world title challenger from Riverside, California, will take over the co-feature position on the card. Ortiz is moving up to welterweight only for this fight as an accommodation to Herrera.
"This will be a big test for Vergil Ortiz Jr.," Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya said. "This young man has all that it takes to become a dominant world champion, so it's only fitting that a prospect like him gets the opportunity to be the co-main event of a Canelo fight. At the same time, we know the kind of fighter Mauricio Herrera is. He has a lot of experience and has been in close fights with the best of his division, including what we all know was a win against Danny Garcia. If Ortiz Jr. can look spectacular against Herrera, then he will demonstrate what we already know: that he is the real deal."
Ortiz said he was happy to have his fight in a high-profile position.
"This is a great opportunity for fans all over the world to get to know me," Ortiz said. "Everyone will be watching this event, so I look forward to showing boxing fans what I'm made of. It's very hard to look good against Mauricio Herrera. World champions have fought him and have looked bad. If I can look good and be the first to ever stop him, then I'll be making a big statement."
Although Herrera is on the back side of his career and coming off a decision loss in December to Sadam Ali, who is also on the undercard, he said he will give Ortiz a test.
"Everyone knows the kind of experience that I bring to the table," Herrera said. "Whether it's against world champions, contenders or prospects, I bring a tough fight to anyone. Vergil Ortiz might have bitten off more than he can chew for this fight, especially now since we are the co-main event. I'm happy for yet another opportunity, and we look forward to stealing the show."
Former featherweight world title challenger Joseph Diaz Jr. (28-1, 14 KOs), 26, of South El Monte, California, also had his opponent officially named. He will face Nicaraguan southpaw Freddy Fonseca (26-1-1, 17 KOs), 27, in a junior lightweight title eliminator. The fight will be Diaz's second since moving up in weight.