By Jake Donovan
The promotional rights to a super featherweight title fight between Jose Pedraza and Stephen Smith landed exactly where they began - in Lou DiBella's control.
The New York City-based promoter put up $150,000 as the lone bidder at Thursday's hearing at International Boxing Federation (IBF) headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey.
A minimum bid of $50,000 was necessary in order for the mandatory title fight to be sanctioned and approved by the IBF. The normal 75/25 split would have Pedraza clearing $112,500 as per the terms of the purse bid amount. However, it's believed that both fighters could potentially make more.
Absent from Thursday's hearing was representation from Matchroom Boxing, Smith's promoter. There was good reason to not make the trek from England to New Jersey.
"We reached a deal a dew days ago for Stephen's package, so today's purse bid doesn't affect us," Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Boxing confirmed to BoxingScene.com via email response.
DiBella confirmed Hearn's take of the two sides agreeing to terms, but declined to comment on the specifics, such as the date and location.
The fight will ultimately take place in the United States within the next two months. One such plan in discussion could have the fight as part of a loaded night of boxing spanning at least two separate networks, but still remains in preliminary talks.
"We're working hard to make sure everybody gets what they want," said DiBella, who co-promotes Pedraza along with Javier Bustillo and Gary Shaw, but has taken the lead in his career in recent years.
An agreement was reached by both sides when the fight was originally ordered by the IBF last October. Efforts were made to pair the match with another big fight as part of a Showtime-televised doubleheader in the first quarter of 2016.
However, a number of factors prevented those plans from materializing, prompting the IBF to declare a default and order the fight to return to a purse bid hearing.
Pedraza (21-0, 12KOs) makes the second defense of the title he claimed in a 12-round shutout win over Andrey Klimov last June. The bout served as the Showtime-televised co-feature to Deontay Wilder's knockout win over Eric Molina in the first-ever heavyweight title fight to take place in Wilder's home state of Alabama.
The first defense of Pedraza's title also aired on Showtime, scoring a close 12-round nod over veteran Edner Cherry last October in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The fighting pride of Cidra, Puerto Rico - who represented his boxing-rich island in the 2008 Beijing Olympics - earned the title shot with a decision win over Michael Farenas in their Nov. '14 title eliminator in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He would go on to face - and beat - Klimov for the crown after Rances Barthelemy vacated the belt to compete in the lightweight division.
Smith (23-1, 13KOs) moved into the mandatory position with an emphatic 6th round stoppage of Devis Boschiero last September in his hometown of Liverpool, England. The 30-year old contender hails from a boxing-rich family, with younger brother Liam becoming the first in the family to win a major title following a 7th round stoppage of John Thompson last October.
The oldest of the Smith clan, Paul Smith came up short in two separate shots at super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham. Both fights took place in Germany, with Stephen having to travel outside the United Kingdom for his first title crack.
Smith's only other fight outside of his home region came in 2012, scoring a 1st round knockout of Arpad Vass in Munich, Germany. Oddly enough, the fight came after the lone loss of his career, a stoppage loss at the hands of Lee Selby, who went on to claim - and still owns - a featherweight title.
Eleven consecutive wins have followed for the Liverpudlian, including the aforementioned knockout victory over Boschiero in his most recent ring appearance.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox