Juan Francisco Estrada will head home for his first fight after being removed as WBA titlist.

BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the lineal junior bantamweight champion and WBC “Franchise” titlist will next face countryman Argi Cortes atop a September 3 show from Estrada’s hometown of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. The bout was confirmed during the WBC’s latest ‘Martes de Café’ weekly meeting Tuesday in Mexico City.

The card—which will air live on DAZN—will also include the long-delayed WBA featherweight rematch between defending titlist Erika Cruz and former long-reigning WBA/WBC champ Jelena Mrdjenovich. A formal announcement on the entire show is expected in the coming days, likely to include at least one more title fight.

Estrada (42-3, 28KOs) will end an 18-month ring absence with the fight, which comes shortly after being relieved of his WBA junior bantamweight title reign for failure to defend against Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs). The title consolidation clash was ordered months ago by the WBA, with Golden Boy Promotions winning the purse bid in hopes of staging the bout on either June 11 or July 16.

Both dates came and went without a fight, as did an extended period of the WBA seeking confirmation from Estrada on his plans to defend. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, the WBA then ruled to remove Estrada’s WBA

“Super” title from circulation, leaving Franco—who previously held a secondary version of the title—as the lone 115-pound titleholder as recognized by the sanctioning body.

The moves made by Estrada were two-fold, with the primary intention to move forward with a long-awaited rubber match against legendary former four-division champ Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-3-1, 41KOs). Such a bout is targeted for December, though no firm confirmation yet offered.

Cortes (23-2-2, 10KOs) will step well up in class for the fight. The 27-year-old from Mexico City has only fought three scheduled ten-round bouts—scoring two knockouts and a seven-round technical decision—and will face his first current or former champion. Cortes will enter the fight armed with a 23-fight unbeaten streak, including wins in his last ten starts.

Mexico City’s Cruz (14-1, 3KOs) dethroned Canada’s Mrdjenovich via technical unanimous decision last April in West Point, New York. One title defense followed for Cruz, a ten-round split decision win over Melissa Esquivel last November 26 on a DAZN show from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Mrdjenovich (41-11-2, 19KOs) has not fought since the loss to Cruz. The upset defeat ended her second title reign which dated back to a March 2016 win over Edith Soledad Matthysse to regain her WBA/WBC titles after losing a ten-round decision to the Argentinean in their August 2015 unification match.  

Estrada edged Gonzalez via a disputed split decision to defend the WBC title and win the WBA strap last March 13 in Dallas, having not since fought. The feat saw Estrada avenge an eight-plus year old defeat to Gonzalez in their November 2012 WBA junior flyweight title fight, with the rematch prompting high demand for a trilogy.

Plans for Estrada-Gonzalez III were set for last October 16. Estrada made the fight happen by exchanging his physical WBC belt for the “Franchise” title in lieu of a third fight with mandatory challenger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a former two-time champ who split two fights with Estrada.

The rubber match was postponed when Gonzalez tested positive for Covid. The third act was rescheduled for March 5, this time with Estrada testing positive and shutting down training camp in mid-January. Gonzalez went on to face and beat WBC flyweight Julio Cesar Martinez in a non-title fight at 115 pounds. The fight was sanctioned by the WBC, with the promise of the winner getting a crack at Estrada as its “Franchise” champion.

Conflict arose when the WBA—who waited out two postponements—moved forward with its title consolidation plans. Estrada has clearly made his choice, though beforehand comes a rust-shaking bout in his first fight in his hometown since August 2019 in a win over Dewayne Beamon. He has since fought in Mexico City and Dallas, with injuries and illness slowing down his career though now back at full health.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox