Elwin Soto could be pressed with a hard decision to make.
For now, it’s his promoter who is currently on the hook to bring resolution to his next due title fight.
The World Boxing Organization has issued a Status Update—Negotiations letter to the camps of Soto, the sanctioning body’s junior flyweight champion and mandatory challenger Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez. The fight was ordered on July 20, with a 20-day negotiation period in order to work out terms. The two lead promoters—Eddie Hearn (Matchroom Boxing USA) for Soto and Felix ‘Tutico’ Zabala Jr. (All Star Boxing, Inc.) for Gonzalez—are now in the midst of a 48-hour period to alert the WBO of where things stand with such talks.
“On July 7, 2021, this Committee ordered the parties herein the commencement of negotiations for the subject matter bout. The parties were granted 20-days upon issuance of the notice letter to reach an agreement, or purse bid proceedings would be called per WBO Rules and Regulations,” Luis Batista-Salas, chairman of the WBO Championship Committee stated to both promoters on Wednesday via official letter, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “The time frame set forth by the Committee has elapsed, and no communication has been received by the WBO.
“Therefore, the parties are granted 48 hours upon issuance of this notice to advise the status of the negotiations accordingly. Noncompliance with this condition will trigger this Committee ordering purse bid proceedings in accordance with our rules.”
Soto (19-1, 13KOs) recently celebrated his two-year anniversary as WBO junior flyweight titlist, which came with a dramatic—albeit, controversial—1welfth-round stoppage of Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta in a fight where he trailed on all three scorecards.
Gonzalez (24-3-1, 14KOs) has won his last two bouts—both for WBO-sanctioned regional titles—in becoming mandatory contender after dropping back down in weight last February. The decision was made by the 5’2” southpaw from Caguas, Puerto Rico following a seventh-round knockout loss to then-unbeaten WBO flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka, where he led on two cards before suffering three knockdowns in their August 2019 title fight in Japan.
Three title defenses have followed, most recently in a ninth-round stoppage of former strawweight titlist Katsunari Takayama this past May. It was yet another deemed premature ending to a Soto fight, though one where he was well ahead on the cards, in supporting capacity to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s three-belt unifying eighth-round stoppage of England’s Billy Joe Saunders at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Soto has since been linked to a targeted title unification bout with WBA “Super” 108-pound champ Hiroto Kyoguchi (15-0, 10KOs). Soto and Kyoguchi are both signed to Matchroom Boxing USA and were rumored to collide later this summer.
Separate mandatory title defenses potentially stand in the way of an immediate head-on collision, however.
Kyoguchi was previously ordered to face WBA “World” junior flyweight titlist Esteban Bermudez (14-3-2, 10KOs) in a title consolidation clash. The WBA has yet to provide an update on where things stand with the fight.
The WBO has been clearer in the approach to its mandatory. BoxingScene.com has learned that a request for exemption was filed by Soto’s team, though coming after the mandatory fight with Gonzalez had already been ordered. The onus is now on Hearn and Zabala to reach an accord—whether for a fight between Soto and Gonzalez or a one-time step aside by Gonzalez—before the matter becomes subject to a WBO purse bid hearing.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox