A hard deadline is in place in the next step of Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez’s pursuit of becoming a two-division champion.
The World Boxing Organization (WBO) has officially assigned a ten-day negotiation period for the vacant flyweight title fight between San Antonio’s Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs) and Mexico’s Cristian Gonzalez (15-1, 5KOs). The bout was previously approved and ordered by the WBO on October 27 during its annual convention held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with both parties now instructed to come to terms by November 14 to avoid a purse bid hearing.
“As per the mandate issued by the WBO during its 35th Annual Convention on Thursday, October 27, 2022, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, it is hereby ordered that the parties herein commenced negotiations to fill the vacancy at the Flyweight division,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas told both parties via official letter, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Therefore, the parties are granted 10-days upon issuance of this notice letter to negotiate and reach an agreement, or purse bid proceedings will be ordered per WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests.”
Rodriguez is represented by co-promoters Teiken Promotions and Matchroom Boxing, while Gonzalez fights under Felix ‘Tutico’ Zabala’s All Star Boxing banner.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Rodriguez traveled to San Juan to plead his case for an immediate shot at becoming a two-division champion. The 22-year-old rising star vacated the WBC junior bantamweight title on Wednesday to show his commitment to drop down in weight and campaign at flyweight.
The move came in conjunction with Japan’s Junto Nakatani (24-0, 18KOs) agreeing to relinquish the WBO flyweight title he’d held for two years. Nakatani cited an inability to any longer make the 112-pound limit as the reason, shortly before being named as the number-one contender in the WBO junior bantamweight rankings.
As reported by BoxingScene.com on Friday, Nakatani will next challenge the winner of the December 31 WBA/WBO junior bantamweight unification bout between Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs) and Kazuto Ioka (29-2, 15KOs).
Rodriguez claimed the WBC belt in a twelve-round win over former titlist Carlos Cuadras on February 5 in Phoenix, Arizona. The win came on just one week’s notice, having replaced former two-time champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai who he went on to face and knock out in the eighth round of their June 25 DAZN headliner in his San Antonio hometown.
The ambitious 2022 campaign saw a quick turnaround, with Rodriguez returning to defend his title on the September 17 undercard of the Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin trilogy clash in Las Vegas. Rodriguez defeated two-time title challenger Israel Gonzalez via unanimous decision, though with the grueling schedule and the tougher-than-expected fight prompting the boxer and his team to make it his final bout of the year.
Gonzalez was previously ranked number-one but remains in line to challenge for the now vacant title. The 23-year-old from Tultitlan, Mexico has won nine in a row since a split decision defeat in May 2019 which serves as his lone career blemish.
Included among Gonzalez’s run is a ten-round win over former title challenger Saul ‘Baby’ Juarez last June and a pair of early knockout wins in his past two starts. Gonzalez last fought on March 25, when he stopped Juan ‘Pinky’ Alejo at the end of the first round in Mexico City.
Should the fight head to a purse bid, the minimum accepted bid for a WBO flyweight title fight is $80,000. It is expected, however, that a deal will be reached to avoid that route, with the fight likely to take place in the first quarter of 2023.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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