WBO Super Featherweight title on the line Saturday at Kissimmee Civic Center

Christopher Diaz (left) and Masaykui Ito pose with WBO President Francisco Valcarcel and the Super Featherweight belt. One of them will win it Saturday at the Kissimmee Civic Center.

Christopher Diaz, Masayuki Ito to box for world championship

By Ken Jackson

Staff Writer

Kissimmee will be the epicenter of the World Boxing Organization world Saturday night

Christopher Diaz (left) and Masayuki Ito pose with WBO President Francisco Valcarcel and the Super Featherweight belt. One of them will win it Saturday at the Kissimmee Civic Center.

as the world Super Featherweight title will be on the line tonight as part of an ESPN Top Rank Boxing talented card at the Kissimmee Civic Center.

Tickets are available at $100 (red carpet ringside), $50 (lower bowl), and $30 (general admission), and may be purchased at the Kissimmee Civic Center box office, online at ticketerapr.com, or charge by phone at (787) 305-3600. Fans can also watch on the ESPN+ digital channel.

With current titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko officially vacating the title on May 23, the belt is up for grabs, and Christopher Diaz (23-0, 15 knockouts) of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico taking on Tokyo’s Masayuki Ito (23-1-1, 12 KOs), who is making his United States boxing debut.

The boxing card begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. The Diaz-Ito main event is scheduled to open sometime after 9:30.

The event’s stop in Kissimmee is a nod to the large Puerto Rican boxing fan population in the area, more so now after Hurricane Maria led then to come to Central Florida and Osceola County, legendary promoter Bob Arum said at an announcement ceremony on Thursday.

“Originally we thought we’d put more fights in Puerto Rico after we signed the ESPN deal, but storm changed that,” he said. “It’s great to be highlighting this great Super Featherweight, Vasyl will be an all-time great. Now this two young men, Christopher Diaz and ‘Ito-San’ are going to compete to follow him for a world championship.

“It will be a thrill to watch Ito and Diaz, the pride of Puerto Rico. I believe he could be on the way to joining (Felix) Trinidad and Miguel Cotto. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait for Saturday night.”

Neither than Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez, who said he will be in attendance.

“We’re proud to have this in Kissimmee and bring this to the community,” he said. “The part of that has come from Puerto Rico has suffered so much, so things like this, they will be able to enjoy.”

Ito, through broken English Thursday, said he’s happy to make his American debut in Kissimmee.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to fight here. I promise to show a very good fight,” he said.”

Diaz also came from a place of humility at Thursday’s announcement.

“I never expected to be at this point of my career, expecting to be 20-0, fighting for a world championship,” he said. “My hard work everybody and passion for this sport — I’ve been working for 15 years — so what can I say? I know Ito is a good fighter and come to give me a war, but that’s the kind of fight we want to give to the fans who come to see us fight. I think that will make the difference in the ring.”

Another marquee matchup tonight pits Artemio Reyes (25-2, 20 KOs) of Colton, Calif., who is undefeated since April 2012, against Gabriel Briceno (24-3-1) of Brooklyn, who just took on the 10-round welterweight fight last week.

“Short-notice opponents are the toughest to prepare for,” Reyes said. “But we’re going to go 10 rounds and put on a show.”

Despite the short training schedule, Bracero said he’s “ready to put on a show here in Kissimmee.”

The undercard includes the continuing career of Kissimmee’s Antonio Vargas (6-0, 3 KOs) against Mexico’s Aaron Echeveste (5-2, 3 KOs) in a six-round bantamweight bout, the pro debut of Russian Olympic bronze medalist Vladimir Nikitin against American Edward Kakembo, and Puerto Rican Yomar Alamo (14-0, 11 KOs) putting his perfect record up against Colombian Wilfrido Buelvas (18-9, 12 KOs).