Amidst a loaded pre-Super Bowl card in Miami, there are two fights which stand out from the pack—Tevin Farmer’s title defense versus Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz and unified 122-pound title claimant Daniel Roman in tough against mandatory challenger Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
Unfortunately, the only attention afforded either fight has come from the sport’s truly hardcore. A far greater promotional push for the show (Thursday, DAZN, 9:00pm ET) has been granted to a six-round fight between a pair of YouTube personalities and boxing debutants, while the evening’s headliner is unbeaten middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade (28-1, 17KOs) in what most view as a showcase title defense versus Ireland’s longshot contender, Luke Keeler (17-2-1, 5KOs).
It may not be right, but it’s the boxing world we live in today. Of course, not everybody has to accept it.
“Frankly, the most promotion this fight has gotten, have come from the two fighters themselves and their eagerness to get in the ring with one another,” Lou DiBella, Farmer’s promoter noted during a recent media conference call. “I’m thrilled for the opportunity that they’re going to get in Miami on a real big show during Super Bowl week, this coming Thursday night in Miami on DAZN USA. I’d be a little bit happier if this fight was getting a little bit more promotion than it’s gotten.
“I know that Andrade’s a terrific middleweight champion. He’s fighting Luke Keeler. I know that people care about those internet guys, those Instagram guys, I don’t really even know who they are, but to each his own and anybody that’s into that, that’s cool. But to me as a boxing fan, this is the best fight on the card.”
The knee-jerk reaction would be to claim that DiBella has more of a vested interest than most in the bout, but the Hall of Fame-elected promoter has generally given zero f—ks about anyone’s opinion in the past and for the most part has served as one of the few straight shooters in the sport. The New York-based media-friendly boxing personality has taken his own fighters to task when necessary, and has never shied down from confrontation with any of his industry peers.
So, it goes without saying that the buildup to the fight—which marks the 5th title defense for Philadelphia’s Farmer (30-4-1, 6KOs)—has remained limited to the online push offered by both boxers. Farmer and Diaz (30-1, 15KOs) helped generate buzz through their social media exchange throughout most of 2019, one which led to in-person trash talk and nearly more when the two went face-to-face in Las Vegas ahead of Diaz’s eventual win over Freddy Fonseca last May.
Finding a home for the fight remained a priority for DiBella, though perhaps not as much for Matchroom Boxing and DAZN who teased several potential dates before its final landing place on the undercard of Thursday’s show.
All that can be done at this point for Farmer and Diaz, is to simply make lemonade—and of course, one hell of a fight to live up to the expectations among the sport’s most dedicated fans.
“Tevin Farmer in my mind is the most skilled guy at 130 pounds, one of the best boxers in the world,” insists DiBella. “I’m proud to promote him. I got great respect for Jo Jo, and I know that Jo Jo’s going to throw down and I know that he’s going to try to bring a fight and make it into a war. I like the kid. I have nothing to do with them, but I’ve always liked the kid because I think that he fights at 110%.
“But I know that the thoroughbred in this fight—Tevin Farmer—is one of the best fighters in the world. Underappreciated for how great a fighter he is. I expect him to defend his title successfully, but I do expect this to be the best fight on the card and I’m more looking forward to Tevin Farmer and Jo Jo and the Danny Roman fight than I’m looking forward to anything else on the card.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox