By Jake Donovan
Claudio Marrero can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
The once-beaten featherweight has spent the past three years attempting to claw his way back into contention following a disappointing defeat to Jesus Cuellar in their Aug. '13 vacant title fight. Seven wins later, he is one more victory from a rematch, but will have to get past unbeaten interim titlist Carlos Zambrano in order to reach that point.
The fight was ordered by the World Boxing Association earlier this month, a move applauded by the Miami-based Dominican who has spent all year chasing Zambrano. Their respective camps have been in talks for the past several weeks in efforts to reach a deal and avoid a purse bid hearing which is slated for November 2.
"Talks are going very well, Luis Decubas Jr. and Al Haymon (Marrero's co-manager and adviser, respectively) are working out the details of venue money and TV with Floyd Mayweather (Zambrano's promoter)," Marrero (21-1, 15KOs) informed BoxingScene.com on Monday. "We will be reaching a deal very soon, as the fight is ordered, period. There's no way around this fight."
Marrero first targeted such a fight earlier this year, only to endure several postponements.
It was frustrating particularly because he'd hoped to expedite the process in securing a rematch with Cuellar - who will defend versus former three-division champ Abner Mares (despite having been declared legally blind by the New York State Athletic Commission medical staff) in December - but instead has been forced to wade through the politics of the sport.
Further troubling was when Zambrano - an undefeated boxer from Peru who has been inactive since last August - signed with Mayweather Promotions and threatened to seek other contenders. However, a lack of TV dates further extended his inactive stretch, thus unable to avoid the WBA-mandated showdown with Marrero.
The only downside is that both boxers figure to be out of the ring for the remainder of 2016, leaving Marrero with just two fights on the year. The Herman Caicedo-trainer contender was last seen stopping countryman Luis Hinojosa this past August in Brooklyn, New York.
With any luck, the waiting period for his next appearance won't extend too deep into the new year.
"The timeline in which I think this fight will take place is realisticly in January 2017," Marrero believes. "As I'm sure Zambrano will need and want all the time he can get to prepare, which is ok because no amount of time will stop the inevitable.
"The wait has been long and way overdue, as I fought over three years ago vs. Jesus Cuellar and I'm ready for my fight again. I spend my time waiting for this fight training and spending time with my extended gym family. Pretty much what I've done for over six years. Herman keeps me very occupied trust me. My goal now is to win the title, defend 15 times and retire happy to be with my children."