Unbeaten double world junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford defends his crowns against former Olympic champion Felix Diaz on Saturday at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Crawford, 30-0 with 21 knockouts, will try to retain the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization titles by dispatching Dominican top-ranked challenger Diaz, 19-1 with nine knockouts.
"This is a really big fight to me," Crawford said. "Diaz is a worthy challenger and you can't bring just any fight to the Garden."
A victory could set up Crawford for a showdown with Namibia's Julius Indongo, 22-0 with 11 knockouts, to create an undisputed champion in the 140-pound division.
The unbeaten African southpaw decisioned Britain's Ricky Burns last month in Glasgow for the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association crowns.
"If I keep winning then the opportunities for even bigger fights will present themselves," Crawford said. "I'm ready for any opportunities at 140 or 147 pounds. I want to put a show on for everyone on Saturday. I will make a statement."
Crawford has won four of his past five fights inside the distance, including last December's hometown defense against compatriot John Molina at Omaha, Nebraska.
Crawford took the WBC crown last July by unanimous decision over Ukraine's previously unbeaten Viktor Postol.
Diaz, whose only loss came to former world champion Lamont Peterson in 2015, comes into his first world title bout at age 33 off a stoppage of Nicaragua's Levis Morales last December in Santo Domingo.
"I'm up for this challenge," Diaz said. "I really believe this will be a war.
"I have a great chance of winning. I see a lot of weaknesses in his game that I know I can take advantage of. He's one of the best, but I have fought welterweights and he hasn't. I believe I have the power to hurt him."
© 2017 AFP