Vasquez, Diaz anticipating early finish to 147-pound showdown

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Sammy Vasquez Jr. has a game plan to gain a stoppage within eight rounds Saturday night, but Felix Diaz says he’s also “gunning for a knockout” in their 147-pound bout.

Sammy Vasquez and Felix Diaz

Sammy Vasquez Jr. (left) and Felix Diaz bring a combined record of 38-1 into Saturday's 147-pound clash in Birmingham, Alabama. (Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)

With each southpaw possessing bad intentions for the other, the action figures to become explosive when Sammy Vasquez Jr. (21-0, 15 KOs) takes on Felix Diaz (17-1, 8 KOs) in the co-main event to Deontay Wilder’s heavyweight title defense against Chris Arreola at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama (Fox, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).

Vasquez, 30, has stopped 10 of his last 12 opponents, and with a five-inch height advantage over the 5-foot-5 Diaz, he contends that his size and power will allow him to end the fight early.

“[Diaz is] a slick southpaw, but I feel the body shots will break him down,” Vasquez said. “Coming over the top of his punches will play a factor in controlling the fight with my power backing it. I feel I will win with a possible KO in the eighth.”

A 2008 Olympic gold medalist from the Dominican Republic, Diaz is attempting to rebound from a loss by majority decision to former 140-pound world champion Lamont Peterson in October.

“I see some flaws in [Vasquez’s] style that I know I can expose. My style will give him a lot of trouble,” Diaz said. “He wants to keep his undefeated record intact, but my hunger to start another win streak is greater.”

At Friday's weigh-in, Vasquez hit the scale at 146.8 pounds, while Diaz came in at 145.8.

Vasquez initially was scheduled to fight southpaw Luis Collazo on Saturday, but the former 147-pound champion was injured in training camp and pulled out of the bout on July 1.

Diaz, 32, was tapped to replace Collazo, which meant withdrawing from his own scheduled fight against right-hander Levan Ghvamichava on July 12. And that came after Diaz had to pull out of a scheduled May 28 bout against former 135-pound champion Miguel Vazquez because of an ankle injury leading up to that fight.

“Diaz and Collazo are southpaws, so it’s not difference to me,” Vasquez said. “Diaz got inside on Peterson at times, but I’m not going to let that happen.”

Diaz said the shuffling of opponents shouldn’t have any affect on his performance in the ring.

“I had to switch to southpaw sparring, but that is nothing new to me,” Diaz said. “My punches are accurate, and my timing is better than ever. Everything’s coming together."

Diaz’s trainer, Joel Diaz (no relation), said his fighter has fully recovered from his ankle injury and will use his mobility to penetrate Vasquez’s defense.

“Vasquez has a lot of self-confidence and he’s tough, but he’s not a style that Felix Diaz hasn’t seen before,” Joel Diaz said. “You’ll see Vasquez bring the best out of Diaz."

The boxers share a common opponent in southpaw Emmanuel Lartei Lartey, who dropped an eight-round split decision to Diaz in April 2014 before losing to Vasquez by 10-round unanimous decision in February 2015.

For a complete overview of Vasquez vs Diaz, visit our fight page.

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