By Jake Donovan

Luis Nery remains a strong possibility to land on the loaded July 20 card in Las Vegas, but it won’t come in a title shot versus Nordine Oubaali.

That stands to remain true for his next several fights, in fact. 

Arguably the two best remaining bantamweights outside of the World Boxing Super Series, Mexico’s Nery and France’s Oubaali are both looking to July for the next fight in their respective careers. Rumors have swirled of a head-on collision on the Pay-Per-View undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s challenge of unbeaten welterweight titlist Keith Thurman.

The assumption was understandable; Oubaali won his World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight title with a 12-round nod over Rau’Shee Warren in a pairing of multi-time Olympians. The bout was staged on the undercard of Pacquiao’s last fight, soundly outpointing Adrien Broner atop a Showtime Pay-Per-View event.

Oubaali’s placement on the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) branded event came from his opponent, as Warren is advised by PBC creator Al Haymon, in addition to his boxing-lifelong affiliation and friendship with Broner. 

Also under the PBC banner is Nery, whom joined the conglomerate earlier this year and made his debut on the March 16 Fox Pay-Per-View show in Arlington, Tex., scoring a 4th round knockout of McJoe Arroyo.

Nery presently serves as the WBC’s top-rated challenger, although not the true mandatory and his being due a title shot nowhere nearly as simple as where he’s currently ranked. Ahead of him is unbeaten interim titlist Takuma Inoue, who is heading for an optional fight of his own as Oubaali will next appear on a July 6 ESPN+-streamed card in Kazakhstan.

From there, it is expected that the WBC will order a title consolidation clash between Oubaali and Inoue.

By that point, Naoya Inoue—Takuma’s older and far more famous brother—and Nonito Donaire will likely have collided in the WBSS finals, making for an attractive option for any bantamweight to pursue.

Where Nery will run into trouble more so than most others in the division is if both Inoue’s ultimately prevail in their respective title fights. The unbeaten boxer from Mexico was issued a permanent ban by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) after showing up well over the bantamweight limit for his eventual repeat knockout win over former long-reigning titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka last March.

The disgraced former champ had already tested positive for banned substance Zilpaterol through drug testing surrounding their first fight eight months prior, where Nery scored a 4th round knockout to dethrone Yamanaka. He was absolved of his sins by the WBC—whom attributed the adverse finding to contaminated meat—but the JBC wasn’t nearly as forgiving of his pre-fight follies heading into the rematch where he left still unbeaten but was also asked to never return.

Nery was also hit with a temporary suspension by the WBC which has since been resolved, as he has won three straight since returning to the ring last October.

An opponent has yet to be established for his appearance on the July 20 show in Las Vegas—his second with PBC—nor is it yet known if it will be sanctioned by the WBC or any other alphabet organization. 

Whatever comes of the night, he could find himself as a man without a country at bantamweight. The forthcoming Inoue-Donaire WBSS finale will be for three of the four major titles, with Oubaali holding the last. His career path is steering towards a shot at the tournament winner, but with a consolidation clash versus the younger Inoue in the interim.

Even if Nery can position himself as a mandatory challenger by then, he is still looking at 2020 at the earliest before landing a shot at the WBC title absent his moving up to super bantamweight or even featherweight, the latter where PBC holds prime real estate.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox