Oscar De La Hoya demands answers on the extended delay surrounding the WBA mandatory 140-pound title fight.
The Hall of Fame former six-division titlist is prepared to take legal action to protect the rights of England’s Ohara Davies, the top-rated WBA junior welterweight contender who Golden Boy Promotions signed earlier this spring. Davies was named mandatory challenger to current titlist Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero, for which a purse bid hearing was indefinitely postponed as the sanctioning body will review medical documents provided on July 21 by Romero’s team.
“[Two] weeks waiting for WBA president Gilberto Mendoza and the WBA to confirm ‘Rollies’ Romero’s return from his supposed “injury,”” De La Hoya publicly stated in search of a definitive response. “Our fighter Ohara [Davies] is his mandatory and we will not step aside.”
Romero-Davies was formally ordered on May 30. The assigned 30-day negotiation period not only ended without a deal reached but with little contact even made between parties.
Davies was represented in talks by manager Lee Eaton’s Lets Go Management and has since signed with Golden Boy. Romero was represented on paper by Mayweather Promotions, though Davies’ team was unable to make progress with the Las Vegas-based outfit or with any representatives at Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
Romero was on the hook to next face Davies (25-2, 18KOs) after he won the WBA 140-pound title in a ninth-round stoppage of Venezuela’s Ismael Barroso on May 15 in Las Vegas. Romero was originally due to face then-defending titleholder Alberto Puello (21-0, 10KO), who was forced out of the Showtime main event and subsequently suspended for six months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after he tested positive for Clomiphene.
Puello was replaced by Barroso, who dropped Romero in round three and led on all three scorecards through eight rounds. The fateful round nine saw referee Tony Weeks credit Romero with a knockdown that was caused by a push and then stop the fight despite Barroso having not absorbed a single punch during the final exchange.
Because Romero was not a mandatory challenger and won a vacant title, he is now obligated to honor against the next leading contender to avoid being stripped of the belt.
Davies (25-2, 18KOs) was guaranteed the next shot at the WBA title currently in Romero’s possession. He earned the mandatory ranking with a ninth-round knockout of countryman Lewis Ritson in a March 4 title eliminator in Ritson’s hometown of Newcastle, England. The win was his seventh in a row since a twelve-round, unanimous decision defeat to countryman Jack Catterall who was unbeaten at the time of their October 2018 clash.
The lone other defeat suffered by Davies came in a seventh-round stoppage of Josh Taylor in their July 2017 battle of unbeaten prospects.
The WBA stepped in on June 30 to call for a purse bid hearing that was scheduled for July 24. Las Vegas’ Romero (15-1, 13KOs) contacted the sanctioning body that Friday to seek a medical exemption. A ruling was expected days later but WBA representatives have yet to take action or even comment on the matter, to the dismay of Davies and his team.
“@SignUp4KOs you p-ssy,” Davies previously exclaimed on social media. “Trying to fake an injury, the real reason is because your grandad @LEllerbe [Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather Promotions] knows for a fact I knock you the f--- out. Stop being a p-ssy & grow a set of b-llocks & fight me.”
The sense within the industry is that Romero is attempting to instead secure a more high-profile fight, whether a rematch with Baltimore’s Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (29-0, 27KOs) or versus Ryan Garcia (23-1, 19KOs). Romero suffered his lone career defeat in a sixth-round knockout to Davis last May 28 in Brooklyn, New York.
Neither option will fly with Davies or Golden Boy, nor should be approved by the WBA based on documented rulings already in place.
“Not about the money, we want the belt,” insisted De La Hoya.
Should the bout return to a purse bid hearing, the minimum accepted bid is $110,000, with Romero due 75 percent as the defending titleholder.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox