Benavidez-Di Rocco Title Fight Ordered By WBA

By Jake Donovan

After more than 11 years in the pro ranks, Italy's Michelle Di Rocco will receive his first crack at a major title. 

Whether or not it's the type of fight that defending champ Jose Benavidez Jr. is looking forward to remains to be seen. It will have to be his next fight, however, if he wishes to hold on to his title.

The World Boxing Association (WBA) has ordered the unbeaten super lightweight titlist from Arizona to next defend against Di Rocco, the sanctioning body's mandatory challenger. The announcement was made Thursday morning, with negotiations to begin immediately.

"Both parties have 30 days to reach an agreement," announced Gilberto J. Mendoza, longtime WBA president. "Contracts must be in the agency’s offices no later than September 25, 2015."

The fight comes on the heels of another WBA 140 lb. title fight being announced, as Adrien Broner and Khabib Allakhverdiev will fight for a separate version of the same title. Benavidez Jr. received an upgrade from interim to full titltist after two moves:
  • Previous claimant Jessie Vargas vacating his crown in favor of a welterweight showdown with Timothy Bradley;
  • Former World super lightweight champion Danny Garcia announcing his intention to campaign in the welterweight division
Benavidez Jr. (23-0, 16KOs) picked up an interim version of the title with a disputed 12-round points win over hard-luck Mauricio Herrera last December in Las Vegas. The 23-year old has since made one title defense, a 12th round knockout of Jorge Paez Jr. this past June at home in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Di Rocco (40-1-1, 18KOs) has won 23 straight wins since suffering the lone loss of his career, a 7th round stoppage at the hands of countryman Guiseppe Lauri in Sept. '07. Included among his current win streak is a revenge knockout, stopping Lauri in the first round of their April '12 rematch.

In addition this being his first shot at a title, Di Rocco has never fought outside of Italy and will likely have to travel abroad unless local promoters or investors are able to make a massive purse bid to keep the fight at home. Doing so will require their having to satisfy any terms presented by Top Rank, Benavidez' promoter.

Should the two sides fail to come to terms, a purse bid hearing will be held on September 25 at WBA headquarters in Panama City. 

Jake Donovan is the managing editor of
Twitter:  @JakeNDaBox
Facebook Page:  JakeBScene
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Rope_Burns on 08-27-2015

So two separate fights for pretty much the same title? Doubt the winners fight if Boner wins his fight. Would like to see Amir Iman, Felix Diaz or fatboy Frankie Gomez get a title shot soon. There's some decent matchups…

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