By Jake Donovan
"It's about f***in' time."
That was the immediate reaction from featherweight contender Claudio "Matrix" Marrero, who has finally secured his long-pursued showdown with interim titlist Carlos Zambrano. The WBA-ordered title bout officially has a date, as the two will clash on February 24, with the winner to serve as the mandatory challenger to recently crowned titlist Abner Mares.
The bout was originally due for a November 2 purse bid and then pushed back to December 19, but has since been called off as all parties agreed to terms for the forthcoming contest.
Event handlers are working to secure a venue and network,with either Spike TV or Showtime to broadcast the card. The date is significant in that the lead promoter, Floyd Mayweather Jr. - whom signed Zambrano this past summer - will celebrate his 40th birthday, undoubtedly complete with a post-fight celebration and perhaps even a major announcement regarding his own Hall of Fame boxing career.
For now, he gets to play the role of promoter as Zambrano (26-0, 11KOs) will finally make his first ring appearance under the Mayweather Promotions. The unbeaten 32-year old boxer from Peru has been inactive since last August, when he scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Jose Sanmartin in the lone defense of the interim strap he claimed in a 12-round decision over then-undefeated Daniel Ramirez in their vacant title bout last March.
Marrero (21-1, 15KOs) has won seven straight following the lone loss of his career, a 12-round decision to Jesus Cuellar in their vacant title fight in Aug. '13. The 27-year old southpaw from Miami by way of Domincan Republic was hoping to secure a rematch with Cuellar, but will now have to set his sights on Mares - at least if the goal is to pursue the main title.
"I'm very happy for Abner Mares, he's a great champion," Marrero told BoxingScene.com of the recently crowned two-time featherweight champ. "Jesus also gave a great account of himself. Right now I'm focused 100% on Zambrano and just happy he finally stopped running long enough to sign the contract for our fight. I want him to hand over the belt in the ring, not in a courtroom. I'm glad I finally got my wish. Christmas came a week early."