SACRAMENTO, Calif—World Boxing Council No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger
Adrian “The Shark” Diaconu, scheduled to fight for a title against WBC
lightweight champion “Bad” Chad Dawson at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, suffered
a training injury on Thursday forcing him to pull out of the Sept. 29 match. Dangerous light heavyweight knockout artist Epifanio Mendoza (28-4-1, 24
KOs), from Barranquilla, Colombia, has agreed to replace Diaconu and will
face Dawson in the Sept. 29 main event.
“This is a dream come true to have the opportunity to fight Chad Dawson for
the WBC light heavyweight title,” an obviously enthused Mendoza said after
flying into promoter Don King’s Deerfield Beach, Fla., headquarters to sign
the match contract this afternoon [Sept. 18]. “I have fought in and won
numerous national and continental championships but this will be my first
world title fight. I plan on taking the title back to Colombia.”
Fight promoter Don King likened the event to a Rocky movie, but this time
it’s for real.
“Adrian Diaconu’s misfortune becomes Epifanio Mendoza’s opportunity to make
history,” King said. “Adrian will recover to fight another day and Epifanio
has a chance to become a real-life Rocky, just like in the movies. This
type of thing happens from time to time in boxing and it adds another level
of intrigue into our September 29 main event.”
The training injury occurred on Thursday [Sept. 13], the day after Diaconu
and his trainer Pierre Bouchard had attended Sacramento and San Francisco
press conferences promoting the fight on Wednesday [Sept. 12].
Diaconu was so anxious to not miss another day of his scheduled training
that he took a late-night flight back to Montreal, which arrived on Thursday
at 7 a.m. During his sparring session later that day, he injured his right
hand. He complained of pain on the base of the hand between his knuckles
On Friday morning, Diaconu visited Dr. Claude LeBlanc, a noted sports
physician in Montreal, who advised him to undergo an immediate M.R.I., which
was completed yesterday afternoon [Sept. 17]. The imaging revealed that
Diaconu suffered bone contusions on the base of his hand on the third and
fourth metacarpals with soft tissue damage in the surrounding areas.
After LeBlanc read the results, he advised Diaconu to not participate in his
scheduled match with Chad Dawson. He also prescribed rehabilitative
treatment for the next few weeks until the injury heals to the point where
it can be re-evaluated.
A second world championship remains on the card featuring two once-beaten
fighters with Luis “El Demoledor” Perez (25-1, 21 KOs), from Nicaragua,
making the first defense of his International Boxing Federation bantamweight
title opposing British Commonwealth champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko
(24-1, 21 KOs), from Ghana. Eight bouts are expected to be on the full
Tickets priced at $30, $50, $75, $100 and $250 are on sale now and may be
purchased most easily by calling Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone at (916)
649-TIXS or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available at
the ARCO Arena Box Office and at all Sacramento-area Ticketmaster outlets.
Both world championships will be televised on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). The event is being promoted
by Don King Productions in association with Maloof Sports & Entertainment.
Dawson (24-0, 16 KOs), a 25-year-old southpaw from New Haven, Conn.,
possesses the WBC 175-pound title Roy Jones Jr. held from 1997 to 2004.
Dawson upset previously unbeaten Tomasz Adamek (31-0) to win the WBC crown
on Feb. 3 in Kissimmee, Fla. In his most recent appearance he made a
successful title defense against Jesus “Chuy” Ruiz on June 9 in Hartford,
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