Since 2010, England's Amir Khan has fought six of his past seven bouts in the United States, but there's no place like home.
The former unified junior welterweight titleholder will return to England to face former two-time lightweight titlist Julio Diaz in a scheduled 12-round bout on April 27 (Showtime) at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, Golden Boy Promotions announced Thursday. They will meet at a maximum weight of 143 pounds, since Khan has been fighting at 140 and Diaz has been at 147 for the past two years.
"April 27 is going to be a special night," Khan said. "It's been two years since I last fought in the United Kingdom and I can't wait to get in the ring in front of my fans. Julio Diaz is a former world champion and a very dangerous opponent who is coming off of an impressive performance in his last fight.
"I know he will be coming with guns blazing and I'm ready for whatever he has to throw at me. With my speed and boxing skills, and his power and experience, it makes for a really exciting matchup. He may have other ideas but I'm adamant that my return to the British shores is going to be a very successful one."
Khan has not fought in England since April 2011, when he won an ugly, but dominant, sixth-round technical decision against Paul McCloskey of Northern Ireland when McCloskey suffered a severe cut over his left eye from an accidental head butt.
"We're excited to return to England and bring the loyal British fans the return of Amir Khan," Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya said. "Amir is closing in on a shot at regaining his world champion status and I know he's going to use the energy from the crowd in Sheffield to motivate him. Standing in his way will be a dangerous opponent in Julio Diaz, who is on a hot streak of his own that he expects to keep intact in England."
Khan (27-3, 19 KOs), who was a 2004 Olympic silver medalist at age 17, is just 1-2 in his past three fights and looking to recapture his past glory.
After knocking out former titlist Zab Judah with a body shot to unify 140-pound world titles in July 2011, Khan lost his next two fights in a row, a controversial split decision to Lamont Peterson and fourth-round knockout to Danny Garcia. The fight with Garcia took place as a replacement bout for a rematch with Peterson, because Peterson tested positive for the banned substance synthetic testosterone in a random drug test two weeks before the fight.
After the loss to Garcia in July 2012, Khan, 26, fired trainer Freddie Roach, hired 2011 trainer of the year Virgil Hunter and returned in December to stop overmatched Carlos Molina, a career lightweight, in the 10th round. That bout was the first fight Khan had under a multifight contract he signed with Showtime.
Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer said Showtime will carry Khan-Diaz live in the U.S. in the afternoon and then replay it in prime time along with the network's live coverage that night of the Golden Boy card from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., headlined by Garcia's title defense against Judah.
Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KOs), 33, of Coachella, Calif., last held a lightweight title in 2007 before being knocked out by Juan Diaz in a unification fight. Including the loss to Juan Diaz, Julio is just 6-4-1 in his past 11 bouts as he has moved up in weight and lost to the top opponents he has faced. However, he has won two of his past three fights and in December he held hot welterweight prospect Shawn Porter to a 10-round draw in his best performance in recent years.
"I'm not going to England for the fight to go to the scorecards. I'm fighting for the knockout," Diaz said. "I know the knockout is the only thing that will get me the win, so I'm training extra hard already in order to get a victory on Khan's home turf. I'm a heavy hitter and he can't take a punch, so to me, that is the perfect combination."
Also on the card, 2012 British Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo, a middleweight, will make his professional debut, as will flyweight Haroon Khan, Amir's younger brother. They will face opponents to be determined in scheduled four-round bouts.
"The opportunity to turn pro on such a big fight card in England is a dream come true," said Ogogo, who recently signed with Golden Boy. "I want to become a superstar and this is the first step. I know I have to win in an impressive fashion in my first fight as a pro and I plan on doing just that."
Said Haroon Khan, a 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist: "I'm extremely excited about making my debut. Ever since I was a kid I've dreamed about this moment and I can't wait to take the first step in my professional career on April 27."