Artem Dalakian is set to hit the road for his next title defense.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Dalakian’s mandatory title defense versus Costa Rica’s David Jimenez is now signed and sealed. The bout will take place on January 28 at OVO Arena Wembley in London, in supporting capacity to the Artur Beterbiev-Anthony Yarde lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO light heavyweight championship.
“Artem Dalakian and David Jimenez have signed contracts for the fight,” Dmitry Eliseev, co-founder and vice president of Union Boxing, told BoxingScene.com.
The development comes more than two weeks after a deal was reached in principle by both sides, which was good enough to avoid a purse bid hearing being called by the WBA.
Dalakian (21-0, 15KOs) will attempt the sixth defense of the WBA flyweight title he won in a September 2018 win over former two-division titlist Brian Viloria in Inglewood, California. The balance of his reign has taken place in Ukraine, with all five title defenses taking place in Kiev. However, Dalakian—an Azerbaijan-born boxer who lives in Kiev, Ukraine—has not fought since a ninth-round knockout of Luis ‘Nica’ Concepcion last November 20.
Staging his next fight at home was not at all an option in light of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine which has left much of the nation in ruins in addition to the unsafe conditions surrounding everyday residents.
There was consideration given to staging the mandatory title fight in Jimenez’s native Costa Rica, which would have allowed promoter Ernesto Salvador’s Fight Club Costa Rica to take the lead. It was since decided that both boxers stood to make far more at a neutral location.
Jimenez (12-0, 9KOs) emerged as the number-one contender following an upset win over Ricardo Sandoval on July 16 in Los Angeles. Sandoval was the IBF mandatory challenger but never cashed in that opportunity, instead seeking to go the WBA route.
It miserably backfired as he was outworked by Jimenez, a 30-year-old contender from Cartago, Costa Rica who rose to the occasion in his U.S. debut. The fight took place on the undercard of rising lightweight contender Ryan Garcia’s sixth-round knockout of Javier Fortuna, helping raise Jimenez’s profile ahead of his first career title fight.
The winner of the fight will be poised to line up a big opportunity. Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing has begun the groundwork for a potential flyweight tournament in 2023, hoping to land all four titlists in the company’s continued quest to establish an undisputed champion in as many weight divisions as possible.
Matchroom promotes WBC flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez (19-2, 14KOs; 2NC) and former 115-pound titleholder Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs), who will next face Mexico’s Cristian Gonzalez for the vacant WBO flyweight title.
Rounding out the division is IBF flyweight titlist Sunny Edwards, the best pure boxer in the division. Hearn is working on plans for a Martinez-Edwards unification bout, while Rodriguez—with a win over Gonzalez—could land that winner or whomever emerges victorious in the now-signed Dalakian-Jimenez flyweight title fight,
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox