By Jake Donovan
A pair of former titlist will collide in hopes of returning to the title stage, as an intriguing matchup between Stuart Hall and Rodrigo Guerrero has been approved by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) as a final eliminator.
The bout will take place on April 16 at First Direct Arena in Leeds, England. The winner will be named the mandatory challenger to reigning bantamweight titlist Lee Haskins, who is due to make his first title defense later this spring.
“The IBF has given formal sanction approval for the IBF Bantamweight Eliminator fight for (the #1 rankling) between #3 Rodrigo Guerrero and #4 Stuart Hall.” IBF Championship Chairman Lindsay Tucker confirmed to both camps in a letter obtained by BoxingScene.com. “The bout is scheduled for April 16, 2016 in Leeds, England. The winner will become #1 and the mandatory challenger.”
The event will be promoted by Matchroom Boxing, Hall’s current promoter. Guerrero is represented by Zanfer Promotions in his native Mexico.
Guerrero (24-5-1, 16KOs) – a 28-year old southpaw from Mexico City – has just fought once outside of The Americas through more than 10 years in the pro ranks. The bout served as his most recent title shot, a 12-round decision loss to Daiki Kameda in their Sept. ’13 vacant super flyweight title fight. The deck was stacked against him a bit, as the win allowed the Kameda family to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the first-ever trio of brothers to simultaneously hold at least one major title each, as Koki and Tomoki were reigning bantamweight titlists at the time.
Four of the five career losses for Guerrero have come either with a title at stake or in a sanctioned eliminator, including decision losses to then-World super flyweight king Vic Darchinyan in 2010 and to Raul Martinez in their first fight, a title eliminator in Nov. ’10. He avenged the loss to Martinez in their rematch 11 months later, scoring a technical decision win in their Oct. ’11 vacant title fight.
The glory was short-lived, however, as he conceded the crown to Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. just four months later.
Since the loss to Kameda, Guerrero has won five straight, all of which have taken place at bantamweight. His most recent victory came last November, scoring a 12-round decision over Fernando Aguilar at home in Mexico City.
Hall (17-4-2, 9KOs) has fought almost exclusively in the United Kingdom, including his lone career title win. The achievement came in Dec. ’13, outpointing Vusi Malinga over 12 rounds in the very First Direct Arena that will host the upcoming title eliminator.
Like his upcoming counterpart, Hall’s title reign was brief. A two-round technical draw with Martin Ward - which lasted less than four minutes – was his lone successful title defense before conceding the crown to Paul Butler in June ’14.
As Butler opted to move back down to super flyweight, Hall was afforded another crack at the title, only to come up well short versus Randy Caballero in their Oct. ’14 vacant title fight in Monte Carlo, his lone career fight outside of the United Kingdom. Three wins have followed, though all coming above bantamweight and against pedestrian competition.
His previous career losses came at the hands of Jamie McDonnell (Sept. ’11) and Haskins (July ’12), both of whom went on to win bantamweight titlists and presently rate as among the best in the world at the weight class.
While Haskins will be granted an optional defense, neither Guerrero nor Hall can accept an interim fight prior to their final eliminator. From there, a mandatory title fight will immediately be ordered, likely for later this summer.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox